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Australia - Preview

Knowing that Al-Attiyah could not compete in Australia, Araujo is using the Errani Team Group [car #39] entry in an attempt to score points whilst his nearest rival is absent. If Araujo wins in Australia and Al-Attiyah loses his appeal, Araujo will be FIA Production Car World Rally Champion - but if Araujo wins and Al-Attiyah's appeal is successful, Al-Attiyah can finish second on the final round, Rally GB, and still win the title. Rally Australia is Araujo's sixth and final points-scoring opportunity and so he is ineligible to score further points in GB.

The tactic of competing under more than one team entry during a season is perfectly within the rules and is one that several drivers have taken advantage of this year - including Al Attiyah, who competed under the Autotek JM Enginnering [car #44] team entry in Cyprus, when the Qatari driver recognised a new VW off-road contract, signed after pre-season PWRC event nominations had been lodged, meant he couldn't take up his Barwa Rally Team [car #50] entry in Australia.

Eyvind Brynildsen, Martin Prokop and Toshi Arai, who are fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the P-WRC, can still win the title and will be aiming for nothing less than victory in Australia.

Third placed Patrik Sandell, who won the opening two rounds of this year's P-WRC, will not contest Rally Australia, but will be hoping that a favourable result will keep him in the title hunt, come the final round of the series.

In addition to the Championship contenders, there will also be five new faces on this year's P WRC start list in Australia. Three times FIA Asia-Pacific Rally champion Cody Crocker and four times Australian Rally champion Neil Bates will both be 'guest' drivers, while double New Zealand Rally champion Richard Mason, Pirelli Star Driver hopeful Chao-dong Liu and former P-WRC points-scorer Stewart Taylor will all compete. Bates will give the new Toyota Auris Super 2000 (a model known as Corolla in Europe) its global debut in Australia, subject to an FIA homologation inspection prior to the event.

The rally organisers have also elevated local drivers Brendan Reeves (car #53), Steven Shepheard (car# 54) and Nathan Quinn (car #55) to priority status running amidst the P-WRC start numbers, but these competitors are ineligible for P-WRC points.


Other significant entries:

44 crews due to start.

A field of around 44 cars is set to take part, including 27 international entries. In total the drivers' will represent 16 countries and drive seven different brands of car.

Rally Australia chairman Alan Evans is confident the event will be a success: “Repco Rally Australia is going to showcase the world's best rally drivers and cars and the magnificent natural beauty and attractions of the Tweed and Kyogle shires,” he stated. “It will be an unforgettable experience for spectators and a major boost for the local economy, which has never experienced an event of this significance. Tens of millions of people around the world will follow it on nightly television.”


Route:

The rally is based in Kingscliff, on the Tweed Coast, which will also host the service park. The stages will all be based in the Tweed and Kyogle shires to the south-west. Two passes of an asphalt super special stage around the streets of Murwillumbah begin the action on Thursday and will also end the competition on Friday and Saturday.

The opening leg is the shortest, with much of the action based close to Murwillumbah, before Saturday's route takes competitors further west for stages clustered around Kyogle. The final leg is the longest, journeying west of Kyogle with a remote service based in the town's main street. A live TV stage ends the action before the finish back in Kingscliff. Drivers tackle 35 stages covering 344.72km of competition in a route of 1733.75km.


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