Classic rally cars vie for Queensland honours
- 9th July 2013, 3:00pm
Kicking off on Friday night, classic teams from all over Australia will demonstrate rallying from yesteryear, finishing off with the “WebStor Wheel change Challenge” in front of thousands of rally fans gathered for the Showdown @ the Showground, the opener for this year's International Rally of Queensland.
No fewer than four Escort RS1800s will line up for the action, two of which were built by Historic Rallysport in Britain and will be driven by John Hills and his son David.
Ross Dunkerton, past multiple Australian Rally Champion and the only driver in the rally to have won more than 100 rallies, will start right behind clear favorite Neal Bates, also a multiple Australian Rally Champion, who this time will debut his son Harry Bates navigating in their TTE replica RA 40 Toyota Celica.
Bates with regular co driver Coral Taylor won the Classic Otago rally earlier in the year and is in top form; although his trip to New Zealand prevented him from competing in round 2 of the Classic rally challenge as part of the ARC. Fro Horobin from Canberra (Datsun) leads the series.
Bates protégé Ryan Smart from Yandina starts behind Horobin in a similar Datsun 180B. Smart, a former top ARC competitor, is making a return to rallying, this time classic car mounted. He has seen first hand how much fun the classic competitors have and wants to take the fight right up to Bates.
Smart's Datsun 180B may be no challenge for the Toyota, as Bates is considered to be one of the fastest Classic rally drivers in the world and the RA-40 Celica is equally rapid. That won’t prevent Smart from having a big attempt to beat him and the Sunshine Coast crowds will be the ultimate winner of this on-road spectacle.
Bates has been virtually unchallenged since building the RA-40 last year. He is a former works Toyota driver having driven for the factory for more than 20 years in locally-built Corollas and even a WRC Corolla. Bates' speed in the RA-40 opened many eyes, including regular ARC drivers in outright cars, as recently as the last round in South Australia where he set outright top-five times.
Classic rally cars are fast; they are exciting to watch and crews compete for fun and to entertain the crowds.
Rally Queensland regulars Clay Badenoch (Toyota), Mark Beard (Datsun) and Chris Harbeck (Toyota) will give the spectators plenty to cheer about too.
KCF Rallysport will field Keith Fackrell in his immaculate RS1800 in period Eaton Yale colours - one of the best presented classic cars anywhere.
But for many, the highlight of the classic entry will be Jeremy Browne and Rob Hunt in an original Mini Cooper S - the actual car Jeremy rallied 40 years ago in the Australian Rally Championship and overseas.
Classic crews will have their cars on display at Nambour showground’s prior to the Showdown and will then participate in a run off for the “WebStor Wheel Change” challenge, promising plenty of fun for the crews and the fans alike.
Rally competition over the weekend will be over 195km of forestry stages and spectators will have many opportunities to see the Classics in action at Imbil and Pomona throughout the weekend.
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