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The forthcoming TRUSSME National Capital Rally will be headed this year by a group of 15 Classic rally cars, two of which will be driven by former Australian Rally champions, Ross Dunkerton and Geoff Portman.

This year’s event, to be held on November 25, will see even more sideways action than normal, with the appearance of Dunkerton and Portman who are set to re-ignite the forests of the nation’s capital. It has been a long time since both these drivers competed in Canberra at the same time, however Dunkerton has been there many times since, competing, and sometimes winning events in the Canberra region.

Dunkerton, a five-times Australian champion, is generally considered to be our most successful rally driver of all time. Known as something of a larrikin and TV personality, he is always out to please the spectators. He was placed fourth outright in the Dunlop Otago Classic Rally this year before retiring just kilometres from the finish.

Portman, on the other hand, is the quiet, serious type, letting his driving tell the story. With two Australian championships and six Alpine Rally wins to his credit, he has always been rated as one of our fastest rally drivers ever. Late last year he came out of retirement to win the Alpine rally again.

Ross will be competing in the Classic category in a Datsun 260Z, with co-driver and car owner, Brisbane’s Alan Stean. They are to use Silverstone tyres, which Ross expects to give them an ‘edge’ over their rivals in Canberra. With a second in Melbourne, and a fourth at Bega this year, Ross is backing the tremendous power that the Z pushes out – he has always done well in Canberra, and really wants this win.

Geoff Portman will be teamed with well-known co-driver, Ross Runnalls, in a Datsun Stanza similar to the car they used in their 1980 ARC campaign. It is the same car that Dunkerton and Stean used in Bega, and then at Perth during Rally Australia this year.  Portman believes it to be a better car than the ‘works’ or factory built cars he ran years ago. Portman does not enter events just to cruise around - when he runs it is to win, and according to Geoff, the Stanza is the car to do just that.

One of two cars entered by Snooks Motorsport, the Stanza is a sister car to the one entered by Darryn Snooks’ co-driver brother – Steuart. On recent form these guys are arguably the quickest crew entered - expect them to make the running. They are very fast and have a well oiled crew behind them run by another Snooks – Justyn, who is responsible for the building of the two cars.

It has been many years since Canberra reverberated to the heady sounds of Ford Escort RS1800’s, but many will remember the epic battles between Canberra’s own, Greg Carr and Fred Gocentas, with the likes of Dunkerton, Portman, Brock, Fury and of course, possibly the most famous battle of all, with Ari Vatanen during the 1980 Castrol International Rally.

Carr and Gocentas won, in the end by a margin of only 40 seconds. And these were huge events, regularly drawing crowds of 30-plus thousand spectators. The only way to get to the Mineshaft in those days was to catch a bus, because the roads were blocked by cars!  The Trussmee Nat Cap Rally might not draw crowds like that but there will still be plenty of action as crews line up for the event on November 25.

So, if you remember the good old days of standing in the pine forests late at night  listening to the sounds of a BDA Escort or something similar being thrashed along some twisty mountain track, headlights flickering in the distance, then you need to be in Canberra on November 25.

Information can be obtained from www.classicrallycars.com - or www.bmsc.com.au , or the Canberra Times on November 24.

Accommodation packages are available – www.classicrallycars.com

Spectator information will be available on the above sites in the week prior to the event, or the Canberra Times, FM104.7 and www.rallysportmag.com.au.

The event is run by Brindabella Motor Sport Club, and includes 170 km of special stages and starts at 11:30 am at the Weston Club in Weston, ACT.
The Nat Cap is also the last round of the 2006 NSW Rally Championship, the ACT Championship, and the Classic Rally Challenge.

The NSW Rally Championship  will be decided between Michael Boaden in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 and Darren Williams in an older model Lancer Evo 3.  Boaden currently leads the championship by 22 points but, with 32 points on offer, there is still a chance for Williams to take the title should Boaden have problems.  

The Total Traction Services ACT Rally Series is still quite open with past champion John Stilling leading by 11 points from Richard Leitis, both of whom are driving Mitsubishi Lancers.  There will be a mix of both 2WD and 4WD cars in the ACT Series component of the rally, with the likes of Kagan Skipper competing in his Daihatsu Charade De Tomaso, a little pocket rocket that can take it up to the 4WDs on occasion.

Sean Herbert, although new to the sport this year, has set some extremely good stage times and finished an event in the top  three already. He will certainly be one to watch.

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