Hyundai clinched its first World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ crown, but not in the way the squad would have wanted after the Rally Australia was cancelled amid spreading bush fires.
With the drivers’ title already settled in the favour of Toyota’s Ott Tänak (below) , Hyundai held a slender points lead heading to Australia. However, the Tommi Mäkinen-led Toyota crew never got the chance to shoot for the double after devastating bush fires spreading close to the Coffs Harbour rally HQ forced the abandonment of the event.
It was initially planned to reduce the route by 70 per cent, which would have handed Hyundai the title anyway due to the reduced points on offer. However, ongoing concerns for the safety of both the local population and the WRC community meant the rally had to be cancelled entirely.
WRC Promoter and Rally Australia organisers arranged for all food supplies earmarked for the event to be donated to locals affected by the crisis.
WRC Promoter’s Oliver Ciesla said: “It’s a terrible situation. The crews wanted to give something back to a community which has always welcomed them.”
“WRC teams have donated all food to the Australian locals affected”
Hyundai caused a storm in the build-up by signing Tänak on a two-year deal, which leaves Toyota with a driver conundrum. Both Sébastien Ogier and Briton Elfyn Evans have been linked with the vacant Yaris seat – as has Hyundai’s own Thierry Neuville. Alternatively, Toyota could look to promote either of its young stars – WRC2 Pro champion Kalle Rovanperä or the WRC2 event winner Takamoto Katsuta.
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