Russian driver Evgeny Novikov claims road position will be critical for the Coates Hire Rally Australia round of the World Rally Championship at Coffs Harbour from September 12-15.
As part of the three-pronged Qatar M-Sport operation, Novikov has endured a difficult season, however is determined to learn from his mistake at the previous Coffs event in 2011.
He was on target for a strong result, running as high as fourth before rolling on the final day.
Novikov’s co-driver Ilka Minor is a veteran of five Rally Australia’s with the highlights being helping Manfred Stohl to podiums in 2005 and 2006 in Perth.
“The last time (at Rally Australia in 2011) the weather was quite bad on the first two days so it was very difficult. It’s a challenging event but one that I am really looking forward to,” Novikov said.
“Road position will be important so we need to make sure we have a good run through the qualifying stage.
“I am very fortunate to have Ilka next to me. This will be her sixth time competing in Australia and she has been on the podium twice.”
The other two M-Sport drivers Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville will be relying on strong recce runs leading into their first try on the northern NSW stages.
“We’ll try to gather as much information as possible but you can never know what the conditions are like until you are actually there,” Ostberg said.
Similarly Neuville is mindful of readjusting his approach ahead of tackling the stages in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
“Both Nicolas (co-driver Gilsoul) and I have been studying lots of on-boards from 2011 so hopefully we will be in the best possible position going into the recce,” Neuville said.
The ceremonial start will be staged in the heart of Coffs Harbour on Thursday ahead of the opening evening super special in the city.