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While it is only round two and three of a year-long six round series, it is definitely crunch time for anyone having a serious tilt at the 2014 Hankook Tyre Queensland Rally Championship.

Rally teams from all over Queensland, Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region will converge on the Sunshine Coast next weekend for the annual International Rally of Queensland, which forms two rounds of the Queensland State series. 

Round two will play out on the Saturday leg, and the all important and possible series deal breaker will unfold on the long and tough Sunday stages that rally’s through the fast and challenging Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Series leaders, and hot favourites, Matt van Tuinen and navigator Erin Kelly, driving a Subaru WRX STi, will go into the rally with a slender lead of five points over Ian Menzies and Robert McGowan in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Six.  In a similar car, and just four points behind are the Rockhampton crew of Wayne Menzies and Chris Baxter in third position.  

While van Tuinen and Kelly will go into Rally Queensland as the touted Top Dogs and the ones to watch, they know only too well how the fast roads and red hot pace of this rally can jump up and bite very quickly.  The quick, flowing and technical roads in this rally can make or break a team in the blink of an eye.

Steven Shepheard & J.McCarthy, 2013 QLD Rally Champions.Nothing brings the best out in a sports person than having the opportunity to compete on the same stage as the best in the world.   International Rally of Queensland attracts drivers, teams and manufacturers from all over Australia and Asia Pacific region and the local Queensland teams relish the opportunity to display their equal talents and speed in front of them all and in some cases, beating them at their own game.

Other teams competing and looking to improve their position in the state championship will be Marius Swart and Peta Davies in a VW Polo S2000.  Swart and Davies rolled out of contention in last year’s Rally Queensland and got off to a rough start to the 2014 season with mechanical failure in round one.  The car and the crew have the speed and ability to take it up to the leaders and will certainly be wanting to spray the Champagne on Sunday afternoon.  

Sitting comfortably in fifth spot in the championship and looking to muscle their way onto the podium will be the team of Ross Cox and Terry O’Donnell in an aging, but still strong Mitsubishi Gallant VR4.  

Proving that age shall not weary them, Cox, O’Donnell and the VR4 are looking for a strong and consistent run over the two day marathon event.  Energetic young guns Todd Webster and Ryan Preston in a Subaru WRX have also put together a focused effort in the lead up to the rally and are looking to retain or improve on their position in the championship and get within striking distance of the leaders.

The close and exciting battle in the two wheel drive championship will continue at Rally Queensland with new kids on the block Clay Weston and Brendon Wrigley looking to hold their outright lead in the 2wd series. Driving a left hand drive Ford Fiesta, this is Weston’s first season as a driver and so far has set the pace and is proving to be the one to beat.  Close behind, willing and definitely able, are the experienced teams of Brian Brosnan and Wayne Morton in a rare and crowd pleasing BMW 318i.

While Chris Wedding and Wayne Jefferies in a quick and versatile Datsun 1600 got off to a slow start to the season, they will be looking to hunt down the leaders and put themselves in a stronger position to have a serious charge at the championship lead.

International Rally of Queensland gets underway with a ceremonial start on Friday night, 20th June at Kings Beach Caloundra, and will continue over the weekend in the hinterland forests near Imbil.  Further details regarding the rally as well as spectator information can be obtained from www.rallyqueensland.com.au

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