Guide to Kennards Hire Rally Australia - Coffs Coast
IN A motorsport discipline where sheer seconds matter, the unpredictability of rally can never be underestimated.
Rally stages can be won or lost on gear changes, an overrun on a corner or the decision of which line in the road a driver chooses to take.
Looking at the track record of Rally Australia who would have predicted Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila would come through to win Kennards Hire Rally Australia for Toyota last year?
Or that Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville both would stumble in the final kilometres on the final day of the final rally of the year and yet again forfeit their hopes of a drivers' world championship to Sébastien Ogier?
In 2019 Tänak comes to Australia as the newly crowned World Champion, a deserving winner after a dominant season for Toyota.
But there are many battles still to be settled, including the position of drivers' runner-up and manufacturers' champion.
It could also be the last time Sébastien Ogier will be seen on the Coffs Coast with the six-time world champion indicating he may retire from the WRC in 2021.
After an action packed season, the fastest drivers now do battle in this 14th and final round over 25 special stages and 324.65km of rural and NSW Forestry roads.
They start with the traditional Rally Show and Ceremonial Start at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Precinct on Thursday from 3.30pm.
After the ceremonial start, grab a ticket and walk next door to the Destination NSW Super Special Stage.
A must-visit attraction is also the Pedders Rally Central at C.ex Coffs International Stadium.
Record field to stir the dust
A NEAR-RECORD field of 86 cars from overseas and Australia will thrill spectators at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast from November 14-17.
Crews representing 16 countries will include new World Rally Champion Ott Tänak and 16-year-old Taylor Gill contesting his first rally on L-plates. Rally Australia winners Sébastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala and CAMS Australian Rally Champions Harry Bates and Molly Taylor also are among competitors.
More than 20 women are in driver or co-driver seats.
The biggest field since Rally Australia moved to New South Wales in 2009 promises three full days and two nights of world-class rally action.
Tickets for Kennards Hire Rally Australia, priced from $29 to $119, are available now from Ticketek.com.
Highlights of the Coffs Coast event will include two nights of the harbourside Destination New South Wales Super Special Stage and a free concert by legendary rock band Dragon exclusively for four-day ticket-holders.
"This is a fantastic entry - the best we can remember since at least the time the rally moved to New South Wales from Western Australia after 2006," Clerk of the Course Wayne Kenny said.
"We have 12 World Rally Cars - the fastest cars in the history of the sport - and a cracking line-up of Australian competitors to keep the fans on the special stages entertained all day.
For the latest news and full ticket and attraction details see Rally Australia.
New world champion with everything to prove Down Under
OTT Tänak may have all but sealed his maiden FIA World Rally Championship, but a tough final test awaits on the roads of the Coffs Coast.
A second place finish at the RallyRACC Catalunya saw the Estonian claim the points he needed to seal the crown and now he has the weight of a champion resting on his axles at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
Having amassed 12 career rally wins, the one podium honour that has escaped the 32-year-old is the top step at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The victory of Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja in their Toyota ended a 15-year dominance of the title French drivers Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb.
"This has definitely been a target of my life," a euphoric Tänak said.
"My mother said to me that 'if Ott wants something, then he can make it happen' and I just had to make it happen," he said.
The title-winning victory in Spain followed wins at Rally Sweden, Rally Chile, Rally de Portugal, Rally Finland, ADAC Rallye Deutschland and Wales Rally GB earlier in the year.
"What a journey it has been… But we did it! We are world champions!" he wrote on his Facebook page after the win.
Throughout the 42-year history of the WRC drivers championships, drivers from just nine countries have won the WRC championship.
They are France, Finland, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Norway, and now Estonia.
Sébastien Loeb (France) holds the record for the most championships, winning nine during his career. Sébastien Ogier (France) is second and Juha Kankkunen (Finland) is third, with six and four championship wins respectively.
By the number of total rally wins (12), Tänak is now 17th in the all-time World Rally Championship drivers' league table.
Just days after winning the championship the World Rally Champion-elect dropped a bombshell that he would be leaving the Toyota Gazoo team from next season after signing with Hyundai Motorsport.
Tänak has driven for Toyota for the past two seasons after previously driving for M-Sport Ford.
"The vision that Andrea Adamo (Hyundai Motorsport team director) has set out is very promising and matches my own ambitions for the future.
"It's a big honour for me to have the opportunity to join the team at this exciting stage of our respective careers," he told Autosport.
"I have big respect for what Hyundai has accomplished; we've been fighting closely against each other for a number of seasons.
"They have always had a competitive team and car, so now it will be interesting to see things from the other side.
"The driver line-up is good and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together over the coming years." Hyundai Motorsport director Andrea Adamo called Tanak an "exceptional talent".
"Signing a two-year deal with Ott Tanak is a demonstration of Hyundai's continued commitment and ambitions in WRC."
November sun in Coffs
Everyone knows April Sun in Cuba and Still in Love with You ... get set for a walk down memory lane with the hit band Dragon.
Led by the brother of the original singer Marc Hunter, Dragon will rock the Coffs Coast with their unique sound and rally fans will be in for a real treat.
Grab some food from the international food fair just adjacent to the concert area and enjoy iconic hits from the '80s with top local support artists.
Ticket holders to Kennards Hire Rally Australia will enjoy this exclusive free concert.
Tickets for the WRC season finale on November 14-17 are on sale at Ticketek.com, priced from $45 for an adult single-day pass to $119 for four days.
Holders of the four-day "Ultimate Get Me Everywhere" ticket will get exclusive free entry when ARIA Hall of Fame inductees Dragon play the Pedders Rally Central competitors' service park in Coffs Harbour on Saturday night.
WHERE: C.ex Coffs International Stadium. Pedders Rally Central - Concert Stage.
WHEN: Saturday, November 16. Support acts from 5.45pm and Dragon at 7.30pm.
Free for 4 day Ultimate Get Me Everywhere pass holders.
Coffs performers to share the stage
Home-grown Coffs singer Kailey Pallas will hit the "world stage" when she performs for fans at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The singer, songwriter and musician, 19, will be part of the line-up alongside rock legends Dragon for a free concert on Saturday, November 16.
"I can't wait to perform at Rally Australia," Kailey said.
"It's such an exciting international event and it will be a big thrill to be a part of it. I've just had a ride in a rally car and can really understand what it's about, so now I hope some of the WRC drivers will come along to the concert and hear what I can do."
Kailey has been playing to live audiences since she was six years old and shared the stage with such performers as Glenn Shorrock, Sir John Rowles, Mental As Anything, The Radiators, Dean Ray, Shannon Noll and Daryl Braithwaite.
Local father-and-sons trio D'Boyzos will help rev up the party as a support act when legendary band Dragon performs at the free concert.
Comprising dad Pete Dyball, a seasoned professional musician, and sons Sam, 14, and Lee, 11, the acoustic group from Nana Glen will cover artists such as Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, Train, Vance Joy, Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, The Beatles and Maroon 5.
The concert will be staged in the heart of FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) action at Pedders Rally Central, the competitors' service park at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, from 5.30pm.
And fans will get a bonus when Saturday's leading WRC drivers and their team managers appear on stage for a lively Meet-the-Crews interview session between the support acts and the Dragon show.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.
Changes to the super special stage
THE Destination New South Wales Super Special Stage, the fans' favourite at Kennards Hire Rally Australia, returns with an exciting new course layout, more areas for spectators and a Thursday night start.
The 1.33km Super Special Stage will be held on Thursday and Friday evening.
Extended by 600 metres, the new stage layout includes, as before, sections of Jordan Esplanade and the oceanside Gallows Beach car park and adds the new dimension of running in both directions around the former deep sea fishing club.
A water splash returns in the lower section of the stage and the jump beside Gallows Beach is back - but will be taken in two directions on each car's run.
A holding compound before the start line will allow spectators to see all WRC cars assemble.
The new course layout has allowed the spectator area in front of the fishing club to be extended and there's a new area beside the beachside jump, while the cross-track bridge has been removed to improve spectator movement.
"Adding the loop around the fishing club, relocating the start and finish lines in front of the main spectator area, adding spectator and car-holding areas and running the cars in both directions over most of the stage will create a completely new challenge for drivers and a bigger spectacle for fans," clerk of the course Wayne Kenny said.
"The curved section of road where the cars race downhill at speed from the fishing club and past the corporate hospitality and general admission spectating areas promises action like we've never seen before at the Super Special Stage."