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More than 100 West Australians from some 50 Perth suburbs have been working on a voluntary basis at all 18 previous runnings of Telstra Rally Australia to make the event one of the most acclaimed in the FIA World Rally Championship – and they will do it one last time when the final Telstra Rally Australia is held in Perth.
 
Telstra Rally Australia first ran in 1988 as a trial event in the World Rally Championship. For every year that it has run since, approximately 2000 volunteer officials take part in a variety of tasks to ensure the rally is a success in every aspect. The work of officials range from early morning starts to form road blocks and ensure no one enters a rally stage, to the more glamorous job of escorting drivers from the airport to their hotels. Most officials don’t meet a driver, many don’t even get a chance to see a rally car in action and there are even some who spend all the time at vital roles indoors that they don’t see daylight for the week of the event!
 
While volunteer officials have come and gone for various reasons over the years, 103 officials from Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia have continuously volunteered their time on every Telstra Rally Australia and once the final special stage is run this Sunday, they will farewell Telstra Rally Australia from Perth after 19 years.
 
While each official has started from humble beginnings, many of them have since risen to senior positions in the Telstra Rally Australia officials’ team, leading newer groups of officials through their tasks. One such official is Clerk of Course Adrian Stafford.
 
“I have always had my love of rallying and reasons for being involved in Telstra Rally Australia,” said Rossmoyne-resident Stafford. “But it never ceases to amaze me how much commitment, time and energy people offer year after year. To realise that there have been 103 officials who have unwaveringly offered their time and expertise to this event astounds me. Quite simply, people power runs this event, and we could not have done it without them.”
 
While every one of the 103 foundation officials has their own stories to tell, one theme runs through all the officials’ memories – camaraderie. “The people you meet, the friends that you make and that last forever is something very special about being a part of Telstra Rally Australia,” said Kelmscott official Margaret Courtis. “You find yourself in situations with new faces, old friends, in odd situations and you all work together because you really want this to be the best event. It’s an incredible feeling,” she said.
 
Simone Woodard, General Manager of Telstra Rally Australia expressed gratitude to the foundation officials over the years. “It is astounding to see how much energy officials have given this event in its 19 year history,” said Woodard. “I speak on behalf of the Organising Committee, Eventscorp and all the Telstra Rally Australia staff team when I thank the foundation officials for their commitment every time this event has run.”
 
The staff team is not without its own foundation official. Serpentine’s Rob van Leeuwen, has been organising logistics and operations for Telstra Rally Australia from the first to final year.
 

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