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Rally stars and cars, live music, outdoor dining, vehicle displays, market stalls and children’s attractions will create a festival atmosphere for the official “Start Your Engine” party to launch the Brakes Direct International Rally of Queensland at Kings Beach, Caloundra, next Friday night.

The free party will start from 6pm – with market stalls and food outlets open from 3.30pm – bringing back a popular annual event that regularly drew thousands of rally revellers and family groups until it moved to other locations after 2005.

Around 90 crews and their cars, including some of the best from Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Australia competing in the 25-27 May rally, will line up to meet the public and sign autographs before taking the official start at 8pm.

The honour of starting first will go to Australia’s most successful international rally driver, Chris Atkinson, who with Belgian co-driver Stefan Prevot is seeded number one for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship round that is the weekend’s feature competition.

And among the onlookers will be Lucky 7 V8 Supercar driver Tim Slade, who will not participate in the official start although he will drive a “works” Polaris in the weekend’s Australian SidexSide Rally Challenge for all-terrain vehicles. His $60,000 Polaris RZR XP racer will be on display at Kings Beach.

Other attractions will include a live radio broadcast between 6pm and 7pm by Zinc 96.1 FM Morning Zoo personalities Nugget and Al, plus Bob Abbot and the Fabulous Green Machine band, food from several countries and, for children, a jumping castle, face painters and balloon artists.

Rally Director Errol Bailey says the Start your Engine party is making a welcome return to Kings Beach.

“We moved away for a few years, but it’s great to be bring the rally back to Kings Beach. The community certainly makes us feel welcome there.

“It’s a free event where families, fans and rally crews get together to celebrate one of the coast’s biggest annual sports events and give it a great send-off before the demanding challenge that lies ahead over the weekend.”

Tickets to see the Brakes Direct International Rally of Queensland Special Stage action can be purchased on-line until midnight today at www.rallyqueensland.com.au, from tomorrow at the events centre in Minchinton Street, Caloundra, at the Start Your Engine party, at the Hella Service Park at Imbil Showgrounds and at the entrance gates to Spectator Points at Caloundra’s Main Event, the BP Ultimate stage at Pomona and the Imbil forest.

THE International Rally of Queensland is benefiting Significant Regional Event Scheme (SRES) funding under the Events Queensland Regional Development Program (EQRDP).

The EQRDP is an investment program designed to extend the flow of economic and social benefits of events to regional Queensland. The SRES celebrates and supports those events that have a particularly strong track record of growth and economic success for their region.

A state-wide initiative, the program is committed to enhancing existing events in regional Queensland, as well as assisting in the establishment of new events.

Since the EQRDP began in 2001, more than $18.3 million has been invested in 856 regional events, an indicator of the important role these events play in their communities and wider Queensland.

The International Rally of Queensland also is supported by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
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