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Although he’s a Sydneysider, Hatton’s car is maintained by Activ Rallysport in Melbourne, so contesting the final round of the Victorian Rally Championship makes perfect sense.

His J-Sport four-wheel drive, turbocharged Hyundai i20 has been fully rebuilt over the enforced rally season layoff, and will appear in a striking new colour scheme this weekend.

The Hyundai will sport new suspension for the eight stage, 120 kilometre event on Saturday, but Hatton is simply hoping to have a good clean run, rather than focusing on the end result.

“I’ve been out of the car for a long time, so getting into the driver’s seat and being on the pace of the leaders is going to be a big ask, but we’ll be trying hard,” Hatton said.

“Like any sport, it takes a while to find a rhythm and get back into the groove, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on the dirt.”

The rally has attracted a top class field, including fellow Australian Rally Championship regulars Richie Dalton, Nathan Quinn, Eli Evans and Troy Dowel.

“This event was initially supposed to be a round of the national championship until COVID intervened, so there’s plenty of guys looking to get some knowledge of the stages,” he added.

“It means the pace will be hot, but we’ll just do our own thing and see where we end up.”

JJ will also have a new co-driver sitting beside him for the Gippsland Rally, with Queensland youngster, Brad Jones, stepping in to call the pacenotes.

Jones currently leads the Australian Rally Championship two-wheel drive and Junior Cup classes.

59 cars will start this weekend’s Gippsland Rally, which is based out of Heyfield in the state’s east.

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