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A bumper field of 30 cars will contest the final round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship at Kennards Hire Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour on 16-19 November. The ARC field will be just one part of the spectacle that is Rally Australia, with 78 teams competing across the World Rally Championship (WRC), ARC, New South Wales and Queensland Rally Championships. All eyes will be on reigning champions Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes as they head into the final round with a 30-point lead over championship rival and home-town hero, Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn. With Quinn and co-driver Ben Searcy cross-entered in the WRC field the teams will be separated on the road but the competition is bound to be close if the recent Lightforce Rally SA is anything to go by—Quinn and Taylor were the top two fastest in all 14 stages at the event, Quinn taking 12 stage wins and Taylor the remaining two. Other ARC regulars pitting themselves against the WRC teams include Tankformers’ Eli Evans and Glenn Weston, who have been working hard in the lead up to Rally Australia to iron out mechanical gremlins in their new Mini Cooper AP4, the father-daughter team of Andrew and Kirra Penny and Alliance Motorsport’s Peter Dunn and Dennis Neagle. ARC fans will also be keeping a close eye on Toyota Genuine Parts’ Harry Bates and John McCarthy. Although the pair sit third in the ARC standings, a title win, while mathematically possible, was highly improbable. Instead, Bates and McCarthy have chosen to take on the WRC field and there will be plenty of interest in their progress with the new Yaris AP4 in its second outing.

Molly Taylor regained the ARC lead at the previous event in South Australia. Photo: Peter Whitten

Other Aussies to watch in the WRC field will be Richie Dalton in the Skoda Fabia R5, Rhys Pinter in the Ford Fiesta R2 and Brendan Reeves in the Mazda 2 AP4. Also keep an eye on Maximum Motorsport’s Dean Herridge, who will be putting aside his operational responsibilities for the weekend to jump in the drivers seat alongside Samuel Hill in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. The ARC2 title will be a battle in its own right with all contenders starting the event with a clean slate in the winner-takes-all final. Tony Sullens, Craig Brooks and John O’Dowd, all competing in Subaru Impreza WRX Stis, will go head-to-head for the 4WD title while the 2WD title will be a race between Stephen Mee and Nathaniel Dillon. Lewis Bates, who qualified for the ARC2 2WD final, will instead have his first outing in the Neal Bates Motorsport 4WD Toyota Corolla S2000, ruling him out of the final. Rally fans keen on the classics will not be disappointed, the Classic Rally Challenge field including Datsun 1600s, Ford Escorts and a Mitsubishi Galant, along with Brett Stephens and Tony Brandon in their Datsun Bluebird. These guys will be out to bag some points and move up the table in the ARC Classic Challenge. Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney will also be keen to cap off their stellar year in the ARC 2WD title. The Kennards Hire Rally Australia National and State Entry List is available here.
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