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One of the world's most prestigious and exciting performance cars, the Aston Martin Vantage, is about to turn heads and get dirty at Rally Calder when Ivan Thompson and Karl Francis take on Rally Calder presented by East Coast Bullbars this weekend.

Thompson will compete in the world's first Aston Martin Vantage V8 gravel rally car in the opening round of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship with the support of his father, Classic Rally regular, David Thompson.

Car owner David Thompson is keen to support the new two-wheeled-drive formula for the Bosch Australian and believes the $400,000 Aston Martin is the ideal way to do it.

"We figured it needed some excitement and what better way to support the two-wheel-drive category than putting such an exciting car," explained Thompson.

"This car has been purpose built for the Bosch ARC from the concept to where it is now. The spectators should love it."

The project has not been without a few hurdles though. The unique entry has to run SUV tyres in order to accommodate the Aston's wheel size. Decked out in British Racing Green and accompanied by rally lights, the Aston Martin looks like something from Q's workshop for James Bond's next mission.

Despite a lack of testing on gravel, owner David Thompson is confident the car will be competitive from stage one.

"The car is perfectly balanced with a 50/50 split and from the testing we have done it is exceptionally quick. It has a six speed transaxle and lots of power with better than 420horsepower on tap - you definitely know it's a V8," said David Thompson.

On top of preparing the Aston Martin for his son, David Thompson has been busy preparing a new car for himself and Matthew Sanders.

"We decided the Falcon GT was going to NZ for a season to entertain over there so we are finishing off a Triumph TR8," he said.

"Ivan is probably a better driver than me - as much as I hate to admit it publicly, and over the years I have developed a lot of friendships in classic and I really enjoy the classic category, but at the same time we wanted to support the new two-wheel-drive category and entering such an exciting car is the perfect way to get behind it."

More than 2.5 million Australians will see the Bosch ARC on TV in 2012 and the series will generate more than 36 hours of national television across the Ten/One HD network - a media equivalency value exceeding $6 million. The Bosch Australian Rally Championship has also re-signed multi-national fuel and lubricant giant BP as the primary fuel supplier and Korean tyre giant Kumho as the exclusive tyre supplier for the championship for the third year.

The opening round of the 2012 Bosch ARC, Rally Calder presented by East Coast Bullbars, is scheduled for March 1-4 at Calder Park in Melbourne with round two, the Quit Forest Rally in WA on March 30-April 1, round three, the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast, on May 24-27, the Scouts Rally of South Australia in the Adelaide Hills from July 29-31 making up the fourth round, while round five, the Coffs Coast Rally will be run over the same roads used for  Australia's World Championship round at Coffs Harbour on October 13-14. The grand finale to the Bosch ARC will be Rally Victoria in Gippsland on November 9-10.
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