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A huge 71-car field will contest next week's Western Victorian Crane Trucks Yarra Valley Stages, making it the most popular event on the state calendar this year. A trend against four-wheel drive rally cars in Victoria's state championship seems to be continuing, however,, although there could be a good explanation. The next round of the series is the championship's most popular event, to be held just outside Melbourne on September 22. Of the 37 cars entered in the VRC component, only seven of those are four-wheel drives, and two of those come from NSW in the hands of JJ Hatton and Chris Higgs. The family duo of Arron and Darren Windus lead the field away in their Subaru Imprezas, with Hatton and Higgs to follow. However, the bulk of the field is made up by a host of super-quick Ford Escorts, Nissans and Mazdas.

Luke Sytema will be one to watch in his BDA Escort. Photo: John Doutch

Justin Walker, Brendan Reeves and Luke Sytema will all be very fast in Escorts, as will the Datsun 1600 of Carl Stewart and the Silvias/200SXs of Alan Friend, Andrew White and Brian Semmens. Behind the Windus', Warren Lee in his Lancer Evo 9 is the highest seeded four-wheel drive competitor in the VRC, at car seven. In the Victorian Club Rally Series event running in conjunction, only one of the 34 cars entered is a turbo four-wheel drive. The reasons for the lack of more modern cars are probably many and varied, but 2019 is "an Alpine year", and many of those entered will be testing their cars ahead of the late November favourite. Whatever the reasons, the 71 entries for the Yarra Valley Stages bodes well for the future of Victorian rallying. See the full Yarra Valley Stages entry list HERE.
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