The World Rally Championship reconvenes in Coffs Harbour this weekend for Coates Hire Rally Australia, where Sebastien Ogier has a real chance of securing his third championship.
With an advantage of 93 points over Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, Ogier just needs to finish ahead of the Finn to seal the title. If Latvala wins, Ogier needs to finish second and score points on the Power Stage.
Should he succeed, Ogier will join Sebastien Loeb, Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen as the only drivers to claim three or more championships.
The crews face 193 miles of stages, split roughly equally between fast, flowing farmland roads and tight, twisty forestry tracks. Whatever the scenery, though, the stages are smooth and firm with little gravel on top, which should reduce Ogier’s disadvantage running first on the road.
Behind Ogier, Latvala will be keen to consolidate his second place in the standings – he is just 16 points ahead of VW junior driver Andreas Mikkelsen. Life has be easier for them as fourth-placed Mads Ostberg will have to sit out the rally after suffering injuries when his recce car collided with a truck.
It does seem remarkable that we’re anticipating the Drivers’ Championship to be won on round 10 of 13 event season. But that’s what happens the best driver in the world has the best car in the world. Perhaps more remarkably, this will be the 12th year in succession that a Frenchman named Sebastien has won the championship. What’s the betting Ogier will reach the same record-breaking heights as Loeb?
Drivers’ Championship standings after 9 events
- Sebastien Ogier — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 207 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 114
- Andreas Mikkelsen — Volkswagen Motorsport II/VW Polo R WRC — 98
- Mads Ostberg — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — 90
- Thierry Neuville — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 80
- Elfyn Evans — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 61
- Kris Meeke — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — 56
- Ott Tanak — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 54
- Dani Sordo — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 52
- Hayden Paddon — Hyundai Motorsport N/Hyundai i20 WRC — 46
Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 9 events
- Volkswagen Motorsport — 300 points
- Hyundai Motorsport — 161
- Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team — 148
- M-Sport World Rally Team — 138
- Volkswagen Motorsport II — 64
- Hyundai Motorsport N — 45
- Jipocar Czech National Team — 43
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By Only Motors