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The Final - Rnd 14 - Rally Australia - Nov17-20



Official Website: rallyaustralia.com.au

Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio

WRC+ : Live Stages/Live Maps/Onboard Action/Full Highlights plus.wrc.com/


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M-Sport set for Fiesta RS swansong



M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson says the upcoming Kennards Hire Rally Australia (17 - 20 November) marks "the end of an era" as the current evolution of the Ford Fiesta RS bows out of top line competition.

The successor to Ford's Focus RS made its debut at the 2011 Rally Sweden and has since racked-up 531 starts on 78 different WRC events. It claimed victory on its debut and the car has secured 50 top-three finishes and three clean-sweeps of the podium.

And as an all-new 2017-spec Fiesta World Rally Car nears completion, ready to make its debut at January's Rallye Monte-Carlo, Wilson reflected on the final top-level outing for the current model.

“It’s the end of an era, and Rally Australia provides a fantastic setting for us to say goodbye to the current Fiesta RS WRC – a car which has given us much success over the years," he said.

“After claiming a podium lockout on its competitive debut, the Fiesta became the car of choice for many and the fact that it has been entered more than 500 times at WRC level proves the extent of its popularity and performance.

“Fifty podiums and three clean-sweeps of the podium is a fantastic achievement and something that we are all very proud of. It would be great to wave goodbye to such a successful car with a strong result next week.”

M-Sport’s hopes in Australia ride with drivers Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli. Østberg is a key figure in the Fiesta’s success and has recorded nine podiums in the car, most recently earlier this year in Mexico. The Norwegian has only contested the championship's Australian fixture twice before and secured his best result of fifth when piloting the Fiesta in 2013.

Contesting the event for the first time, Camilli is hoping to close a year of development with a trouble-free run through all of the stages.

click: wrc.com/fiesta-swansong


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World champion Sebastien Ogier headed a Volkswagen Motorsport 1-2 in Thursday morning’s shakedown at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

He set the fastest time in his third and final run through the 5.02km Boyds Road speed test, edging Polo R team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen by a tenth of a second.

Jari-Matti Latvala set the pace through the opening run in his Polo R, before Thierry Neuville powered his Hyundai i20 to the top of the standings after the second pass. Both were later overhauled by Ott Tänak, who finished third in a Ford Fiesta RS.

Ogier was first into the stage and had a taste of things to come when he opens the roads for the first two legs on Friday and Saturday. The loose gravel was deep and the Frenchman’s quickest time was more than 11sec faster than his opening effort on unused roads.

“It’s such an incredible cleaning effect we have seen this morning,” he said. “By our calculations it is between 0.2sec - 0.3sec per car per kilometre faster. It’s always difficult here but during the recce a lot of people said it was even worse than previous years. I didn’t expect so much.”

Even Monday night’s massive rainstorm in the host town of Coffs Harbour offered no respite for the early starters.

“When we started the recce on Tuesday morning I never saw any marks of humidity anywhere. It is completely dry and dusty,” Ogier added.

Neuville and team-mate Paddon tied in fourth with Latvala completing the top six, a tenth of a second behind the Hyundai duo.

click: wrc.com/shakedown-australia



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Friday
SS1 Utungun 1, 7.88km




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SS2 Bakers Creek 1, 16.75km



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SS3 Northbank 1, 8.42km

SS1 - SS3: Mikkelsen leads in Australia


Andreas Mikkelsen won two of the opening three speed tests at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Friday morning to set the pace in this final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.



The Norwegian was quickest in the opening Utungun test in his Volkswagen Polo R. Despite yielding his advantage to Hayden Paddon in the following Bakers Creek, Mikkelsen won Northbank to regain top spot by 1.1sec from the New Zealander.

The dry and dusty shire roads were covered in thick gravel which proved a huge hindrance to the early starters. Mikkelsen, third in the running order, admitted he did all he could to offset that disadvantage in his quest to secure the series runners-up spot.

“We’re trying to cut where we can but I just tried to follow the line,” he said at the Northbank finish. “There’s so much cleaning it’s amazing. It will be difficult to fight with the guys behind. I have no other choice than to try win. I have to give it everything.”

Paddon gambled on tyre choice. All the Michelin-shod frontrunners opted for soft rubber, but Paddon elected to start with hard compounds at the front of his Hyundai i20.

“When it’s tight and twisty we struggle more with hards on the front,” he admitted. “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong tyre. The softs are a bit soft and the hards are a bit hard so somewhere in between would be ideal. I wanted to try something different to everyone else.”

Ott Tanak was 4.4sec behind Paddon but unhappy with the balance of his Ford Fiesta RS. Dani Sordo was fourth in an i20, with M-Sport duo Mads Ostberg and Eric Camilli completing the top half dozen.

First and second in the start order were Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville and the conditions did them no favours. Neuville was seventh, one place ahead of the Frenchman. “I think I took every risk I could possibly take. I have nothing to lose,” said Ogier.

The morning’s big loser was Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn lost more than four minutes after a mistake towards the end of Utungun when he slid wide and clipped a bridge. The impact broke his Polo R’s rear left suspension and he limped through the next two tests.

“I managed some repairs (below) but the faster I go the more I risk losing the whole wheel. I could go faster but I have to drive smoothly,” he said.



click: wrc.com/australia-ss2/



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SS4 Newry 16 1, 10.49km



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SS5 Raceway SSS 1, 1.37km

Two more stage wins for Andreas Mikkelsen enabled the Norwegian to complete Friday morning’s opening loop of speed tests at Kennards Hire Rally Australia with a 13.7sec lead as his closest challengers hit problems.

After pushing hard to overcome the handicap of thick gravel on the shire roads and win two of the opening three speed tests in his Volkswagen Polo R, Mikkelsen was quickest through the shortened Newry before topping the times in the short Raceway test.

“A very good morning, just like we wanted,” he said. “I expected the guys behind to be a bit quicker but I think we’ve done a pretty good job from third in the start order. The pace has been comfortable. No moments, just a good attack,” he said.

Dani Sordo provisionally led the chase in a Hyundai i20. However, the Spaniard started Newry two minutes late after getting lost on the liaison section and a 20sec penalty is likely, which would drop him to seventh.

Team-mate Hayden Paddon is half a second behind, the New Zealander admitting his gamble to fit hard compound Michelin rubber to the front of his i20 backfired. He touched several banks and couldn’t keep the car in a straight line.

“You have to try sometimes. It didn’t quite work but we’re still in the fight and we’ll give it a good go this afternoon. Today is about getting through in a good position. Tomorrow is possibly my favourite of the entire season and we’ll give it a really good go,” he explained.

Despite starting first in the worst of the conditions and sweeping the gravel for those behind, world champion Sebastien Ogier climbed to fourth in his Polo R. The Frenchman was 1.0sec ahead of Thierry Neuville, the Belgian suffering wheelspin in his i20.

Mads Ostberg completed the top six, despite stalling his Ford Fiesta RS at the start of Raceway, half a second ahead of team-mate Eric Camilli.

Ott Tanak’s good early times were undone with a sticking throttle in his Fiesta RS in Newry. Confusion with his pace notes caused the Estonian to spin, further valuable seconds drifting away as he waited for the dust to clear before continuing.

Lorenzo Bertelli and WRC 2 leader Esapekka Lappi completed the leaderboard.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss5/



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SS6 Utungun II (7.88 km)



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SS7 Bakers Creek II (16.75 km)



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SS8 Northbank II (8.42 km)

Andreas Mikkelsen continued to boss his rivals at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Friday afternoon to retain his mid-leg advantage.



Drivers returned for a second pass over the fast shire roads south-west of Coffs Harbour and the Volkswagen Polo R pilot eked out a few more seconds to lead by 17.4sec with three speed tests remaining in the opening leg.

The Norwegian edged team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier through Utungun. He had to give best to Thierry Neuville in the following Bakers Creek before Ogier completed a trio of different winners in Northbank.

It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Mikkelsen though. “It felt really bad in there to be honest,” he said at the Northbank finish. “Oversteer and understeer in every corner and then a water bottle became stuck between my feet. I managed to catch it in a corner but it was a bit scary.”

Grip was much better as the thick gravel had been swept away during the first pass and it allowed the early starters to finally make their mark. Second in the order Neuville was almost a second clear of Latvala in Bakers Creek before road opener Ogier distanced the Belgian by 1.7sec in Northbank in his Polo R.

“The road is cleaning and the car is working better now there is more grip,” said Neuville. But with road temperatures reaching 44˚C, tyre wear was an issue for many.

Ogier’s advantage over the Hyundai i20 of Neuville in third was 2.3sec but, more importantly for the world champion, he closed the gap on second-placed Hayden Paddon to 1.8sec. The Kiwi struggled badly with his i20’s handling.

“The tyres are really bad. I was driving too hard in the last stage and half. It was my normal style but it’s too aggressive,” he said.

M-Sport team-mates Mads Ostberg and Eric Camilli completed the top six with Dani Sordo next up. The Spaniard was finally handed a 20sec penalty for arriving late at the start of SS4 which dropped him out of the podium battle.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss8/



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SS9 Newry16 II (10.49 km)



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SS10 Destination NSW SSS - I



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SS11 Destination NSW SSS - II

Andreas Mikkelsen led Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Friday night after heading the leaderboard for most of a hot and dusty day in New South Wales.

Spurred on by the knowledge that he must win this final round of the FIA World Rally Championship to stand a realistic chance of securing the runners-up spot, Mikkelsen was 15.4sec ahead of Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

The Norwegian was quickly out of the blocks to win five of the opening six speed tests south of Coffs Harbour. He was 14.2sec clear at mid-leg service and eked out a few extra tenths when the roads were driven again.

It wasn’t all plain sailing as his charge was almost derailed in a bizarre incident. “A water bottle became stuck between my feet. I managed to catch it in a corner but it was a bit scary. I’m happy how the day turned out. We want to be second in the championship so we have to give it everything,” said Mikkelsen.

Thick gravel on the shire roads hampered the early starters, who swept the dirt away to leave a cleaner line for those behind. Third in the order was not ideal for Mikkelsen but he fared better than Ogier, who opened the road.

more: wrc.com/australia-friday-wrap



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Saturday

SS12 Nambucca I (50.80 km)


Hayden Paddon blitzed his rivals in Saturday’s opening speed test at Kennards Hire Rally Australia to climb into second and raise the pressure on leader Andreas Mikkelsen.



He won the marathon Nambucca stage and was 10.2sec quicker than Mikkelsen, vaulting his Hyundai i20 up the order from an overnight fourth to lie 13.5sec behind the Norwegian’s Volkswagen Polo R.

Paddon’s time was all the more remarkable as dust filled the car, leaving the Kiwi and co-driver John Kennard covered from head to foot.

“From the very first corner dust billowed into the car. I tried to ignore it but it was a bit distracting. I thought maybe the rear door was open but perhaps there’s a hole somewhere under the car,” Paddon explained.

Thick gravel covered the shire roads and the early starters struggled for traction. With temperatures already at 25˚C, hard compound tyres were the option for virtually everyone. The exception was road opener Sebastien Ogier who opted for softs in an attempt to maximise grip.

“I don’t know what’s the correct choice,” said Mikkelsen. “Four softs would have been correct for the first car but I’m a few cars back and I’m not sure that would have worked. I think hard tyres were the right choice for me, although I felt a lack of grip. Not an easy stage.”

Fourth fastest for Ogier left the Frenchman 4.3sec behind Paddon in the standings. “I had no choice but to take soft tyres. There is so much loose gravel that I had to try that to get some grip,” he explained.

Thierry Neuville slipped off the podium after managing only eighth fastest in his i20. The Belgian was more than 22sec behind Paddon and dropped 34.6sec off the lead.

“Hard tyres were right for me. I couldn’t have gone on softs, the car was still moving like hell at the rear,” said Neuville, who reckoned he lost a handful of seconds in hanging dust.

Dani Sordo climbed ahead of Eric Camilli into sixth, despite overshooting a junction in the dust. Ott Tanak was faster than Paddon at the opening split but his tyres wilted in the heat and the Estonian ended fifth fastest.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss12/



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SS13 Valla16 I (14.84 km)



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SS14 Raceway SSS II (1.37 km)

Kennards Hire Rally Australia leader Andreas Mikkelsen preserved his advantage over the attacking Hayden Paddon and Sebastien Ogier though the final two speed tests of Saturday morning’s loop.



He repelled the chasing duo to reach the mid-leg service in Coffs Harbour with a 13.6sec lead over Paddon. World champion Ogier was just 3.0sec behind the New Zealand driver with all eyes focused on this afternoon’s second pass through the marathon Nambucca test.

Mikkelsen yielded just over a second to team-mate Ogier and a tenth to Paddon in Valla in his Volkswagen Polo R. He then won the short Raceway before pronouncing himself content with his morning’s work and his choice of hard compound Michelin tyres.

“We did a lot of road cleaning. Seb took a risk with soft tyres which paid off for him. We have kept the gap more or less the same but this afternoon we have to push,” he said.

Paddon couldn’t match his opening stage pace but fourth and fifth fastest in the two tests kept him firmly in contention.

“We struggled a bit in Valla. It was very loose, especially near the start, and the car was sliding too much. Maybe I’m driving too hard and I need to bring it back a notch. We can’t be disappointed, we’re back in the fight,” said Paddon, who sealed the dust holes in his Hyundai i20 with duct tape.

Ogier was third in both stages in his Polo R, the Frenchman happy with his tyre gamble to maximise grip on the dirty gravel.

“I’m completely sure soft tyres were the right choice. We weren’t sure about going with softs but it turned out better than expected. This afternoon there will be issues with tyre wear so I have to be clever,” he said.

Thierry Neuville was fourth in an i20 but slipped back from the podium fight. He was 23.2sec behind Ogier and regretting not opting for soft rubber. Mads Ostberg closed to within 7.7sec of the Belgian in a Ford Fiesta RS, with Dani Sordo completing the top six.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss14/



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SS15 Nambucca II (50.80 km)

World champion Sebastien Ogier put doubts into the mind of Kennards Hire Rally Australia leader Andreas Mikkelsen after climbing into second place through the marathon Nambucca speed test and slashing the Norwegian’s advantage by almost five seconds.



Road opener Ogier enjoyed cleaner conditions than this morning to go second fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R behind team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. He relegated Hayden Paddon to third and the 4.6sec he regained from Mikkelsen cut the deficit to 12.0sec.

With temperatures climbing to 35˚C, Nambucca presented a tough physical challenge for the crew and also for the hard compound Michelin tyres that all the front-running drivers selected for the best grip.

Ogier quickly jumped out of his car at the finish to inspect the rubber before saying: “I tried to manage them and they survived quite well. It was a difficult stage, still a bit slippery because the line wasn’t always good, but I looked after the tyres.”

Mikkelsen checked the times and joked: “Seb told me he would help me to get second in the championship, but it doesn’t look like it! It was difficult to know how hard to push. I tried finding a balance but I don’t know how my tyres will be for the next stage.”

Paddon was only sixth in his Hyundai i20. “We always knew Ogier would be on a mission here. We had a good stage. The tyres only started going off about 5km from the end. If I had done much more I might not have got here,” explained the New Zealander.

Midway through the stage Latvala was almost six seconds faster than Ogier but his early attack took its toll on the Polo R’s tyres which were badly worn at the finish.

Mads Ostberg’s hopes of reeling in Thierry Neuville for fourth took a knock when he conceded 11.7sec to the Belgian, leaving the gap at 19.4sec. Set-up changes failed to work for the Norwegian, who couldn’t keep the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS in line.

Lorenzo Bertelli completed the stage with a damaged rear right suspension arm in his Fiesta RS.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss15/



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SS16 Valla16 II (14.84 km)



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SS17 Destination NSW SSS - III



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SS18 Destination NSW SSS - IV

Andreas Mikkelsen retained the lead of Kennards Hire Rally Australia after Saturday’s second leg but his hopes of ending his Volkswagen career with a win were hanging by a thread.



He kept world champion Sebastien Ogier and Hayden Paddon at bay during a sweltering day on the shire roads of New South Wales. However, a bizarre problem in the final country speed test slashed his advantage to just 2.0sec with one day remaining.

His 12.0sec lead was almost erased when his Volkswagen Polo R’s clutch pedal was bent and pushed down on the brake pedal. Mikkelsen drove more than half the 14.84km stage with the brakes on and conceded 9.2sec to Ogier.

“I cut a corner like I had lots of others,” said Mikkelsen. “There was a bang and I think a rock must have hit under the car and bent the clutch pedal across the brake. I had to drive the rest of the stage with the brakes on. We used a ratchet strap to bend it back into place (pictured below).”

Failure to win this final round of the FIA World Rally Championship on the German manufacturer’s last appearance would likely see Mikkelsen fall short in his efforts to overhaul Thierry Neuville in their fight for the runners-up position.

Paddon was first to attack Mikkelsen in the opening Nambucca test. The Kiwi relegated Ogier to third after a stirring drive through the 50.80km marathon. When it was repeated this afternoon Ogier piled on the pressure, demoting Paddon and closing on Mikkelsen before the Norwegian’s drama.

Road opener Ogier was worst affected by thick gravel on the roads this morning. The same tracks were cleaner this afternoon, but with the thermometer climbing above 35˚C tyre wear became an issue for all drivers.

Paddon ended 10.0sec behind Ogier in his Hyundai i20, but team-mate Neuville fell away from the podium battle. The Belgian regretted choosing hard compound tyres when traction was at its worst this morning.

Despite overshooting a junction in hanging dust, Dani Sordo climbed two places to fifth. He relegated Eric Camilli in the opener and Mads Ostberg later. Ostberg eyed Neuville’s fourth place but mid-leg set-up changes affected the handling of his Ford Fiesta RS and he fell back.

Overheating tyres prevented Ott Tanak from making any impression in eighth, with Lorenzo Bertelli and WRC 2 leader Esapekka Lappi completing the leaderboard. A rejuvenated Jari-Matti Latvala climbed to 11th after yesterday’s suspension problems, the Finn winning two stages.

Sunday’s final leg heads north of Coffs Harbour for the first time. Drivers tackle four tests before the rally-closing live TV Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest three drivers. The five stages cover 57.18km.

click: wrc.com/australia-wrc-day-2/



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Sunday

SS19 Settles Reverse I (6.20 km)




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SS20 Bucca16 (31.90 km)

Andreas Mikkelsen stretched his lead at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Sunday after closest challenger Sebastien Ogier spun away his victory hopes.



World champion Ogier conceded six-tenths of a second to leader Mikkelsen in the opening Settles Reverse speed test, north of Coffs Harbour. But his pace through the following dusty Bucca stage closed the gap between the duo to just 0.3sec shortly after the midpoint.

Ogier then spun his Volkswagen Polo R near the finish and completed the test 19.6sec slower than his Norwegian team-mate. Mikkelsen’s lead was up to 22.2sec with three stages remaining.

“It’s OK but we lost maybe 15sec. That’s part of the game,” said Ogier, as he inspected slight damage to the splitter at the front of his car.

Ogier’s error boosts Mikkelsen’s hopes of securing the runners-up spot in the FIA World Rally Championship, but victory may still not prove enough.

“We had a good stage, I pushed really hard but no moments. It wasn’t perfect as I did a couple of mistakes. It’s full concentration right to the end. I’m confident in this type of driving and in a really good mood,” said the focused Norwegian.

It was a disastrous stage for Hayden Paddon. He slid his Hyundai i20 into a bank near the midpoint and the impact knocked the rear left tyre off the rim. He dropped more than a minute and third place quickly turned into fifth.

Team-mate Thierry Neuville climbed to third. If the positions remain the same through the final trio of stages, it would be sufficient for the Belgian to secure the runners-up spot irrespective of the live TV Power Stage bonus points.

A hesitant Dani Sordo dropped behind Mads Ostberg in the opening test but moved back ahead again in Bucca as dust inside the Norwegian’s Ford Fiesta RS impaired his visibility. Sordo heads Paddon by six-tenths of a second with Ostberg 6.7sec behind the Kiwi.

Lorenzo Bertelli limped to the end of Bucca with only two-wheel drive in his Fiesta RS after breaking the rear differential, while Eric Camilli reported a brake problem in his similar car.

click: wrc.com/australia-ss20/



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SS21 Wedding Bells16 I (TV) (6.44 km)



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SS22 Settles Reverse II (6.20 km)



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SS23 Wedding Bells16 II (Power Stage & TV)(6.44 km)

Andreas Mikkelsen signed off Volkswagen’s FIA World Rally Championship era with victory at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Sunday afternoon.

The Norwegian won the final round of the 2016 season by 14.9sec from team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who spun away his own chances. It provided a perfect farewell for the German manufacturer, which bows out of the series after a dominant four-year period.

Mikkelsen’s win in a Polo R was not enough to secure the runners-up spot in the drivers’ championship. Third place for Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20, a further 57.7sec back, secured the position behind the already-crowned Ogier.

Ogier won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points. Neuville took two points for second, while team-mate Dani Sordo secured the final point.

click: wrc.com/australia-breaking

Congratulations Andreas Mikkelsen & Anders Jaeger on Winning, WRC Australia

Congratulations to Esapekka Lappi & Janne Ferm -Skoda Fabia R5, WRC2 Champions!





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Thank you all for reading/posting throughout 2016...


...Round 1- Monte Carlo, Jan 16-22 2017.

Automobile Club de Monaco ? PresentationAutomobile Club de Monaco

The 85th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, Round 1 of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship, promises to be an outstanding event as world class carmakers Citroen and Toyota return to the series to compete alongside Ford and Hyundai in WRC. To celebrate the occasion, the organising committee of the Automobile Club de Monaco has concocted a particularly inspiring route, more than 85 percent of which will be new compared with the 2016 event.

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