Racers rate Repco Rally course
'HARD, fast and difficult' is how championship leader Mikko Hirvonen summed up the Repco Rally Australia route after completing reconnaissance of the course yesterday.
Instead of driving around in his BP Ford Abu Dhabi rally car, Hirvonen cased the course in an ordinary, unmarked street vehicle.
He made a note of the way the roads were turning, the tightness of the corners, whether the car was going over a crest, where to brake and where it was possible to cut corners.
“There are some really, really fast stages,” he said.
“It is really a hard surface and a little bit loose on top which is going to make things quite difficult on Friday, but otherwise it looks quite OK.”
Hirvonen heads into Rally Australia three points clear of five-time champion Sebastien Loeb with a further two rounds remaining after this one. And he fancies his chances of remaining on top after winning his home rally in Finland last month.
“It's all in my hands, and anything is possible,” he said.
“The difference to Sebastien is only three points so anything can still happen but I am pretty confident.
“It's so fast in places that it is very difficult to make up any differences with other drivers. Even a small mistake can cost you the victory so you can't just go flat out without doing any mistake.”
Although Loeb is under pressure to come from behind and win the championship he was a cool customer on a school visit to Kyogle yesterday.
“At this point in the championship, I think everything is still possible,” Loeb said.
“I'm sure that there is some pressure but we are in a situation where we just have to try and win and that is what we will try to do here.”
After his first look at the course yesterday, Loeb gave it his seal of approval.
“There are a lot of different kind of roads, some very wide and fast-paced, some very different paced also,” he said. “It looks interesting and it should be a nice rally.”
In fourth position in the World Rally Championship is Hirvonen's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who said he'd had an 'up and down' season.
“It would be really nice to finish in the top three,” Latvala said.
“But the main thing at the moment is to help my team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who is leading the championship
“And I try and support the team in the fight to win the manufacturers' championship against Citroen.”