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When you think of Rally Australia, what do you think of? Is it the red, dusty roads of Western Australia? Is it the beach-side town of Coffs Harbour, swarming with rally fans? Or is it the countless famous moments which have taken place on Australian soil?

Italian, Alex Fiorio, in action in 1989. Photo: Peter Whitten

As an Australian rally fan, these moments have been ingrained in my memory, as some of the most famous (or infamous) of the World Rally Championship. Flashback to 1990. Carlos Sainz rolling his Celica on three occasions has become part of folklore.
The aerial footage of him stopping and immediately dropping the clutch after the second instance has been played thousands of times.
Surpassing that, however, is the most famous of the three accidents. With his helmet hanging outside of the open window, Sainz and the Toyota barrel rolled to its retirement, as there was no coming back from this one.

Carlos Sainz was unsurprisingly unable to continue after this roll. Photo: Stuart Bowes

Colin McRae’s ‘antics’ at Rally Australia are also well publicised, though not necessarily with the wheels in contact with the ground. Like Sainz, the Scot had his own big accident in 1999, but his jumps in ’97 and ’02 are the ones that stick into your memory.
Driving a Subaru in 1997, McRae launched into the stratosphere over the famous Bunnings jumps, leaving fans, and even co-driver Nicky Grist amazed.
Five years later, he was on a charge in his Ford Focus when it nose-dived over the Muresk jump, forcing him to retire. McRae, however, would win the rally on two occasions.

Colin McRae was forced to retire after this jump in 2002. Photo: Peter Whitten

The damage to the Focus was clear to see. Photo: Peter Whitten

Who can forget Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb’s fight in 2003, whilst both vying for their first world title? The final day's battle was epic, and one which is now steeped into memory. Or the innovative Langley Park Super Special Stages, which saw many fall victim to a very public humiliation. Simon Evans (pictured below) was one of those unlucky drivers, however, we think four Australian Rally Championship crowns more than makes up for that small indiscretion.

Simon Evans rolled on the rally opening super special in 1999. Photo: Martin Holmes

Think back to 2005, when the almost unstoppable Sebastien Loeb was well and truly stopped in his tracks. The Frenchman unbelieveably made a mistake and hit a tree, leading to his teammate’s victory.

Sebastien Loeb crashed out of the lead in both 2005 (pictured) and 2011.

2005 also saw local hero, Chris Atkinson’s extraordinary fightback. After leading through SS5, he dropped over two and a half minutes, only to surge back to fourth position. He finished only six seconds away from his first home podium.

Chris Atkinson jumping his Subaru on the way to fourth place in 2005. Photo: Peter Whitten

Wind the clock forward to 2011 - the first year in beautiful Coffs Harbour, where the weather did not come to play.
Amidst a huge Citroen in-fight, championship leader, Sebastien Loeb, rolled out of the lead, promoting team mate, Sebastien Ogier, to the lead.
More drama followed as Ogier, too, crashed out, resulting in a commanding one-two win for Ford. Scratching the surface of the history of Rally Australia brings out many stories of days gone by. There’s a good feeling here in Coffs Harbour surrounding the 26th instalment - it will be a cracker! https://twitter.com/RallySportMag/status/930613946268114944
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