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With four drivers within a mere handful of points of each other the 4WD National Rally Series is set to go down to the wire with just two Rounds remaining.
 
Designed to cater for those drivers who had invested in turbo-charged, four-wheel drive rally cars, the 4WD National Series has proven to be one of the most hotly contested Championships this year.
 
After four Rounds, with just Coffs Harbour and Rally Victoria remaining, the top four drivers are split by just 12 points. Michael Harding sits at the head of the points table, but after a costly crash he will most certainly be absent in Coffs Harbour, allowing equal second placed Mike Bailey and John Mitchell, as well as fourth placed Ritchie Dalton the opportunity to grab the lead.
 
“It’s disappointing for Mick Harding that he’ll probably have to miss Coffs,” said John Mitchell. “But that means we’re in a position to improve our position in the points and I’m looking to make the most of that!”
 
Mitchell, a New South Wales State Championship regular, is looking forward to the next Round in Coffs Harbour. “It’s a rally that’s always been good to me, and it always feels like a home rally too,” he said.
 
Coffs, run in conjunction with Australia’s Round of the World Rally Championship, will see drivers compete across three days representing the biggest test for drivers and cars this season.
 
“I think you have to take a smart approach,” explained Mitchell. “The roads are always nice and that will certainly suit someone like Ritchie Dalton, his Lancer Evo is running in the unrestricted category, where as our car is in PRC trim so we run a turbo restrictor.”
 
For Dalton, currently fourth in the Championship, it’s been a remarkable rise to prominence for the Irish man who debuted in Coffs Harbour just last year. “I have to remind myself that my total experience is only five events!” laughed Dalton.
 
“I’ve grown up around rallying, my dad was a navigator. I hired a car off rallyschool.com.au to do Coffs Harbour last year to just have some fun, but I guess the bug bit me too hard and I jumped straight in and bought a car.”
 
Dalton admits he’s surprised by how quickly he’s been able to get up to speed, and is quick to thank the efforts of Steve Glenney in helping him steer the obstacle course of top level rallying.
 
“It’s definitely a steep learning curve especially if you want to be competitive. I know I still have an awful lot to learn so to have a guy like Steve Glenney sit with me is incredible.”
 
“It’s been great in my first season to be able to get stages wins against guys like John Mitchell. We go to Coffs Harbour coming off a tough Round in Queensland, so the pressure is definitely on, but I’ve got a hugely experienced navigator in John Allen who is going to sit beside me so that motivates me to do well,” Ritchie added.
 
Mitchell, Dalton and Mike Bailey will be the front-runners in the 4WD National Rally Series when it resumes at Coates Hire Rally Australia when it gets underway on Thursday 12th September in Coffs Harbour. Log onto www.rallyaustralia.com.au for competitors and spectator information.
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