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The world’s best rally drivers have taken time out ahead of the crucial Australian round of the FIA World Rally Championship to see the sights of Sydney on the famous Harbour BridgeClimb today.

Coates Hire Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast, starting next Thursday and running until Sunday, will be Round 10 of the WRC and could see the drivers’ title clinched by Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier.

Ogier was one of six internationals who climbed to the 134 metre peak of the Harbour Bridge for Sydney’s ultimate photo opportunity.

The view from the bridge that joins the north and south sides of Sydney spans all the Harbour out to the Pacific Ocean and includes the Opera House and, on a day such as today, hundreds of pleasure boats and ferries.

Ogier was joined by his closest rivals in the title fight, Ford driver Thierry Neuville and Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, plus Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke and Ford’s Evgeny Novikov. Australian Adrian Coppin, also contesting the WRC category, joined the visitors to point out the landmarks.

But the camaraderie of today’s three-hour climb will be replaced by intense rivalry after the drivers arrive in Coffs Harbour, 540 kms north of the New South Wales capital, to prepare for Coates Hire Rally Australia.

Ogier has won five of the nine rounds for the new Volkswagen-Motorsport team so far this season and leads Neuville by 75 points in the standings.

To secure the title, he must pick up nine points more than Neuville and one more than Latvala. Should Ogier win both the rally and the closing Power Stage, Neuville would have to finish second in both competitions to prolong the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship.

The drivers returned from the BridgeClimb excited by the experience but eager to head to Coffs Harbour to start serious preparations for Coates Hire Rally Australia, including two days of route reconnaissance before Qualifying on Thursday morning kicks off the competition.

Coates Hire Rally Australia will be run over 22 special stages from Thursday to Sunday, including the ARMOR ALL Super Special Stages held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Rally Hub in Brelsford Park, near the centre of Coffs Harbour.

The event starts with the Qualifying session on Thursday morning followed by the Coates Hire Rally Show and Ceremonial Start in Coffs Harbour from 4pm on Thursday.

Tickets to Coates Rally Australia cost as little as $30 with an all access pass including reserve seating for just $215.

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