WORLD Rally Championship drivers generously praised the quality of stages on this year’s Coates Hire Rally Australia.
Here’s what they said in public comments following reconnaissance and competition:
Every year I really enjoy to come Down Under. It’s a special rally. Like I said, the roads are beautiful and the last two years were very successful for me. I won the two, so of course I am happy to come back here.
This is a beautiful rally, with some really nice flowing stages, but also some technical places as well. There is some loose gravel; it’s not easy to open the road.
The long stage (Nambucca) is part of rallying from time to time. It’s a nice challenge, especially this one, which has a beautiful profile. The night stages on gravel, I’m not sure this is the best – when it brings dust, it can be not so easy.
For sure I look forward to coming to Australia. It’s not only the event itself, but it’s the whole coming here to the country, to the people. The atmosphere here is amazing. And also the scenery when we are driving. It’s beautiful.
It’s like being in the jungle (sic), very different to all the other rallies we do, so it’s really, really enjoyable, so I am always looking forward to coming back to Rally Australia…and the Nambucca stage is the highlight. It’s a really long stage, beautiful. It has everything – twisty sections, open sections, little bit on tarmac, little bit on gravel, but it is a huge challenge for man and machine.
The stages here in Coffs Harbour are really, really nice. They’re fast, flowing stages in places and quite technical through the forest. Generally speaking, it’s a fast-flowing gravel rally and it’s up there as one of my favourites.
Obviously Finland comes top of the list, but this is a very close second. I look forward to this one. We’ve always had good speed here and we missed the podium last year because of a penalty. I always hope we have the speed to be right up there.
My favourite stage is Nambucca. We all like it. It’s such a nice, flowing rhythm and a good long stage. It’s a real challenge but as I said, there’s a real nice rhythm to it, and it’s certainly one I’m looking forward to.
I love travelling and I love seeing different things around me and Australia is a fantastic place to come and it’s even better when we get a chance to drive a rally car here.
The roads are very nice. I like this rally very much. Especially this year, it is even nicer. We are more in the open area, wider roads, faster roads, so it is going to be quite enjoyable for us.
There are other events which I prefer maybe a bit more but this is always a special event in the year because it’s so far from home and it is very different. You drive on the other side of the road, so many things change.
I like the stages, especially Nambucca stage. It’s very fast, very nice corners. Very nice area, beautiful landscape, so I really like this stage. I look forward to this stage when I come here – and the kangaroos as well. It is always a unique opportunity each year to see them – but I haven’t seen any this time yet.
The stages are in very good condition this year. Not so much gravel around, which is maybe not so good for us. We wanted a bit of gravel with our lower starting position but the stages are quite nice, particularly the new stages. I’m also looking forward to Nambucca.
I like Rally Australia. It’s the closest event to home, so that’s one good thing, and obviously we’ve got a lot of Kiwi support that comes over here. The roads feel a little bit like home, so it’s almost like a second ‘home’ rally. I feel comfortable in the environment here. It’s a nice place to come.
It’s probably the number one event in the year for me, because it is almost a home event. It’s the one I’ve been looking forward to the most all year.
All the stages are quite challenging, but then we have to have the correct tyre choice and find the good feeling. I’m sure it will be OK – there’s nothing too bad out there.
I’ve been a bit critical of the first stages last year, but this is a great Rally Australia. These stages are incredible and this will be one of the most difficult events of the year. The stages are so technical with so many different surfaces. The terrain’s really tough – you’re in the trees, out of the trees. It might be one of the shortest rallies in the championship, but it will be very, very difficult – don’t let that fool you!
These are the most enjoyable stages in the championship. I still have to drive in the rally car, but even in the recce car – in the 50km stage, I was telling my co-driver every three or four kilometres, “What a nice stage.”
Well done to the organisers for picking these roads. Sometimes we have tough stages, but here every stage is nice.