Australian wildfires bring WRC season to a premature end

Thierry Neuville (BEL) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 18, 2018 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-1XJ2VDDJN2111 // Usage for editorial use only //

Widespread destruction caused by the deadly wildfires in the states of New South Wales and Queensland in Australia has given the organisers of Rally Australia no other choice but to cancel the final leg of the World Rally Championship (WRC) originally scheduled to start today.

The premature end to the 2019 season sees Hyundai Motorsport chalking up their maiden win as a constructor in WRC, the Korean team had carried an 18-point lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing into what would have been the season finale, after Toyota’s Ott Tanak had sealed the driver’s title in Rally Spain two weeks ago – his maiden win as a driver, which also ended Sebastien Ogier’s streak of consecutive WRC drivers’ titles at six!

Ott Tanak is the first WRC champion not named ‘Sebastien’ since 2004!

In a stunning turn of events, Tanak then announced a few days after his Rally Spain victory that he would be joining Hyundai Motorsport in 2020 on a two-year contract, starting with Rallye Monte Carlo in January. The Finn will join Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and 9-time champion Sebastien Loeb for Hyundai’s 2020 campaign.


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