Rally Australia is this coming weekend, and what better way to get to know the event than to watch old clips from the same rally? Australia has been part of the WRC since the late 80's, and this time we're looking back to 1997.
Of course, the rally itself hasn't changed much. It has moved from one part of the country to another, but you still see a lot of rolling gravel, dust and kangaroos. It's a tough gravel rally that has taken out a lot of the otherwise stable drivers, and decided championships. Finnish drivers seem to have an advantage here, with Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen all having multiple wins.
We meet both Kankkunen and Mäkinen in this video, the latter chasing his second world championship with Mitsubishi. The challengers to the title were 1995 winner Colin McRae in a Subaru and Carlos Sainz in a Ford. If any of those could snatch a win here, the championship would still be wide open in Wales. McRae had also won here before, but this season he seemed to either retire or win rallies. The jumps in Australia might be where the championship is decided.
Kenneth Eriksson had also won this rally before, and the Swede was looking for a good result here to help his teammate i Subaru. Richard Burns was also a potential winner, but since he was in Mitsubishi at that time he would have to place behind Mäkinen even if he was faster. Juha Kankkunen would try to help his teammate as well, and the aging Finn had proved his speed earlier in the season. The teammates might be the decicive factor here. Didier Auriol had won the event in a Lancia Delta, but that was in his championship-winning season and now he was in a brand new Toyota Corolla.