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The famous Begonia Rally is set for a return to the Wombat Forest around Daylesford, following its launch by the Clerk of Course and local dignitaries. Supported by many local businesses, the rally is once again on the local calendar after a break of more four years.

The Rally will be conducted on August 15 and is the fourth Round of the Victorian Rally Championship. This year the ‘Begonia’ will incorporate Round 5 of the Victorian Clubs Rally Series. A combined entry of more than 70 cars is expected.

A strong contingent of rally fans are expected to soak up the action as the teams battle it out over 12 hours and a gruelling 180 kilometres of competitive driving split into approximately 10 special stages.  

In welcoming the Event and its sponsors back to the Central Highlands, Hepburn Mayor Councillors Bill McLenaghan noted the potential contribution of the event to the local economies from sales of accommodation, meals, food and fuel over the weekend.

Local support
Conducted by the Ballarat Light Car Club, the Begonia Rally is one of the longest running rallies in Australia, with past winners including many Australian and Victorian Champions.

At the launch, local competitor Mark Fawcett – who is current Victorian Rally Champion – provided a demonstration of car control on the forest roads in his Subaru WRX.

Mark, who runs local business ‘Ballarat Bolts & Fasteners,’ will be one of more than 70 competitors in the Begonia Rally, which will bring cars and crews from all over Victoria and interstate.

The Begonia Rally is likely to have a big impact on the final result of the 2009 Championship so competition is expected to be unrelenting over the 300km course including more than 170km of competitive special stages.

Timing over competitive sections will be ‘to the second’ and it is expected that less than 2 minutes will cover the top three or four crews at the end of the rally!

The winner
The winner of the rally will be determined by the total time taken on the competitive sections, which are closed for the duration of the Event with the approval of various controlling agencies such as the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

The Light Car Club is now actively seeking the support of local business – as sponsors of the closed road Special Stages, enabling the establishment of closely controlled spectator points in the forest.

Clerk of Course
The return of the Begonia Rally to the Central Highlands after a four year break will be made possible by the active participation of more than 100 volunteer officials who will act as control officials, spectator marshals and road closure officials.

Clerk of Course for the Event will be Tim Collins who has organised many past Begonia Rallies and is once again stepping forward to take on the very demanding role of coordinating the event and its massive team of officials and competitors.

“We are anticipating a strong field to compete on what must count as the very best rally roads in Victoria at the present time. The tourism benefits for Daylesford are significant since any competitors and officials can be expected in the locality overnight on the 14th/15th of August,” he said

The Event will be initially based at Victoria Park in Daylesford with a Start scheduled for 10.00 a.m.

“At the Start, spectators will be able to see the assembled cars and their crews before collecting spectator instructions and an event schedule.

“A hallmark of the event will be the safety program, which includes a comprehensive program of activity in the forest from very early in the day that will alert wildlife to the coming activity and enable them to move away from the vicinity of the roads, deeper into the forest,” commented Tim Collins.

The Begonia Rally will be conducted under a DSE Permit and under the National Competition Rules of CAMS with all activities being consistent with the Regulations and advice contained in the Victorian Rally Bulletin 2009.

DSE involvement
DSE Midlands District Manager Jon Rofe said car rally events are a legitimate use of State Forest and are well-regulated.

"DSE will issue an event permit for the Begonia Rally," Mr Rofe said.

"Car rally event permits come with a number of guidelines and regulations, including route selection, traffic control, engagement with stakeholders and protection of environmental values."

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