The last time he was in Australia, Ott Tänak was in a Ford Fiesta R5, this time he was at the wheel of M-Sport's top-spec Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Getting to grips with the nature of the region's unique roads, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder came into their own on the final day's speed tests and finished in 6th place overall.
Out performing a number of their more experienced rivals, they secured a third fastest time on SS9 followed by a second fastest time on SS10 – just 0.6 seconds adrift of the stage victory.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WR, Elfyn Evans simply could not get to grips with the nature of the Australian roads. The Welshman struggled for confidence all weekend and the pace he was able to extract from the unfamiliar terrain was far from what he hoped. Gradually improving their pace as the event went on, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt were able to make some inroads, but with little to fight for, this is an event they'll be keen to forget, finishing 9th overall.
At the finish Ott Tänak (6th) said: "It's been a really tough rally. This was my first experience of these stages with a world rally car so there was a lot to discover. We made a lot of changes to the notes and it was good to see that the speed was still good enough to set some competitive stage times. With the experience we have, it was very hard to follow the top crews but we have learnt a lot and I am sure that we will be able to compete at the highest level in the future."
Elfyn Evans added: "It's been a really tough rally for us. We managed to make some small inroads throughout the weekend, but we still weren't where we wanted to be. It's important that we go back to the office and work out what was wrong so that we can ensure that we don't have another rally like this for a very long time! Now, my mind is firmly fixed on Corsica where I hope that we can rebuild our confidence and start to show the speed we know we are capable of."
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson observed: "We have seen some encouraging performances from Ott this weekend. Considering that he has never driven these stages with a world rally car, the times that he was able to set clearly show that the potential is there. Obviously this is a rally that Elfyn will want to forget, but we need to understand why he wasn't able to compete at the level we all know he is capable of. We'll analyse all of the data when we get back to the UK and I know that he'll already be focussing on Corsica."