Coffs Harbour ready for ARC rally action
- 11th November 2008, 9:05am
Neal Bates, driving the TRD S2000 Toyota Corolla, will start as favorite for the rally.
Bates has a commanding lead in the Australian Rally Championship and is a former multiple ARC winner. The only other contender is Simon Evans, his Toyota teammate.
Should Bates win both heats, he will be crowned Australian Rally Champion at the rally.
Evans, last year’s championship winner, has had a string of bad luck this year and has had to get used to driving the new S2000 Corolla. Bates’ form this year has been as good as ever and with the new S2000 car he has found genuine speed where he has been able to take stage and outright wins.
The Toyota team has enlisted the help of veteran motoring journalist, Paul Gover, to drive a third Toyota Corolla in the event. Gover is no stranger to Toyota, having driven Corollas and Celicas in the past and has competed in many rallies. Gover can perform well, so look out for a top five result from him.
Michael Guest will drive the Pirtek LWR Subaru. Guest is looking forward to the challenging roads of Coffs Harbour. He is a former WRC driver and could challenge for the podium if all goes well.
It has been eight years since an Australian Rally Championship event has been in Coffs Harbour. Many crews have not experienced the fantastic roads the region has to offer. Veterans such as Bates, Evans and Guest will be familiar with the roads and will have an advantage over the newcomers.
Local hotshot, Nathan Quinn, could be the dark horse of the rally. He recently won the Myall Stages rally, a round of the New South Wales Rally Championship. He knows the region well and has a family pedigree to uphold, with father Martin a former local hot shot rally driver and now the event manager!
British Rally Champion, Guy Wilks has been entered by Honda Australia in a Honda Civic Type R – a car not seen rallying in Australia since the Rally of Canberra earlier in the year. Wilks drives a number of different cars overseas and is considered to be one of the best drivers in Europe. Whilst he may not be able to challenge for an outright position, he will be fast and exciting to watch.
Another up and coming driver, Glenn Raymond, will drive his ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla. He could also fare well in the rally. He has been getting faster all year and getting used to the new Toyota, despite a few mishaps and accidents during the year.
The Coffs Coast Rally is also a round of the New South Wales Rally Championship. Steve Forsberg leads the championship chase on 221 points, from Michael South on 209 points.
Veteran local rally driver, Wayne Hoy, has entered with Lisa Dunkerton, wife of veteran Australian Rally Champion Ross Dunkerton. Hoy, a former Banana farmer is well known in the region and can be expected to challenge for a podium finish.
In the Allcomers Rally, Stewart Reid is driving an old Datsun 1600. Reid normally drives a Toyota Corolla Group N (P) car. The crowd will enjoy Reid’s sideways style and if they haven’t had enough, they can wait for Troy O’Doherty in the thundering Triumph TR7 V8.
The event is being run by the Coffs Harbour & District Sporting Car Club.
The rally gets under way with a ceremonial start in Coffs Harbour city centre at 4pm on Friday. The Mayor will flag the cars away from 5pm. There will be local entertainment, and all rally cars will be on display.
The action starts on Saturday morning at 8am from the BCU Stadium. The cars will transport out to the famous Sherwood Road Stage where the real action will get underway.
Competitors face 111km of grueling competition on day one, and the same on day two.
Cars will be serviced at the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour. Spectators are welcome to come and view the cars as they are being serviced during the rally.
On Sunday morning, the action starts at 7:40am from the BCU Stadium and the cars will transport to Eastern Boundary Road for the first stage.
The rally will conclude with a podium ceremony at 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon at the BCU Stadium, where spectators are welcome and encouraged to attend.
With over 50 crews competing in the Coffs Coast Rally, along with their service crews and spectators, the rally is expected to provide welcome economic stimulus for the Coffs Coast region for several days.
- Full access
- Exclusive news
- Store & Tour discounts