Last round on the sun-baked dirt tracks of Australia’s east coast
The FIA World Rally Championship (where many teams involved are equipped by BMC) ended this weekend. The 2017 Rally Australia features a menu of 21 stages totalling 318.16 kilometres, an overall distance of more than 1,200km and a three-day format similar to that of 2015 and 2016. Certain tests will be run in the opposite direction to previous years, however, while there will be two days of action to the north of Coffs Harbour and one to the south, which means some of the tracks visited by the event will be entirely new for all the crews.
Rugged and dusty forest tracks in the bush combine with shire roads, in public use throughout the year, to provide a tough and tricky gravel blast. Based in Coffs Harbour, almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on the New South Wales coast.
A new-look Friday features three previously unused stages on wild forest roads north of the town, driven in the morning and repeated in the afternoon.
Highlight of Saturday’s longest leg is the monster 49km Nambucca. In the afternoon it is split into two stages, Welsh Creek and Argents Hill.
Friday and Saturday close with two runs through the asphalt Destination New South Wales test on the Coffs jetty, with dramatic sea views offering a picture postcard backdrop.
Three stages to the north provide Sunday’s finale, including Bucca and the fan favourite Wedding Bells Power Stage.
A mix of hard base roads, some tight and twisty and others fast and flowing. Shire roads are lined by trees close to the edge in many places. Many stages travel through dense rainforest and the low angle of the sun in mornings and evenings can create a ‘strobe’ effect as it flashes through the branches.
- Australia hosted WRC from 1989 to 2006 in the west coast city of Perth.
- Langley Park super special stage next to Swan River provided the template for such tests.
- Won the accolade for the best rally three times in the late 1990s.
- The rally moved to the east coast in New South Wales in 2009 and was relocated to Coffs Harbour two years later.
What’s new for 2017
Revised opening leg on Friday north of Coffs Harbour which blends familiar roads into three new stages. Saturday morning’s near-49km Nambucca stage is split into two in the afternoon. The shorter Argents Hill will be broadcast globally on live television.
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