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The Alpine Rally of East Gippsland is one for the ages, and perhaps the most popular, and most anticipated rally in Australia. A rally with countless moments steeped into history, some of the stories are almost unfathomable. Beginning with stages around the north-east of Victoria from 1921, it has previously been a round of the Australian Rally Championship. Frustrating difficulties obtaining the use of roads in the traditional Alpine areas saw the event moved to Gippsland early in the 21st century, and since, it has cemented itself on the Australian rally calendar. This year, 125 classic rally cars will take to the stages around Lakes Entrance in what will be an epic battle. Australian Rally Champions, classics regulars and international stars will battle it out for the coveted trophy. Though days gone by have seen tremendous heat, once coupled with a 120km night stage, this year may see a polar opposite weather event come to fruition. An extreme weather event is expected for the state of Victoria over the weekend, with hundreds of millimetres of rain reportedly set to fall. https://twitter.com/RallySportMag/status/936371918835290112 Rain will remove dust, but will make grip hard to judge, if it is in fact there at all. I’d doubt many of the competitors are complaining, as the event only comes around once every two years, but the challenges are sure be amplified with pouring rain and slippery roads. Leading the field will be defending champion, Jack Monkhouse, ready to tackle the 375km of ‘blind’ competitive stages. Though the South Australian was lucky to even get to the start. A major component failure on a pre-event test put the recently re-built Datsun 180B on a tight timeline to be fixed in time.
Jack Monkhouse Alpine Rally Datsun 180B

Monkhouse's 180B will be back at 100% for the rally. Photo: Jack Monkhouse/Facebook

Luckily for Monkouse, and co-driver, Dale Moscatt, they will be there and as fast as ever. Following Monkhouse, the entry list only gets better. Simon Evans, the popular four-time Australian Rally Champion, will pilot the Datsun Stanza which he drove at the Otago Rally and the Rally of the Heartland in 2017. Recently crowned Australian Rally Champion, Nathan Quinn, will start from a bewildering car 13, but no doubt be on a charge from a great road position. Kiwi stars, Deane Buist and Derek Ayson, will be very fast, also. Both in well prepared Ford Escorts, they’ll be out to fly the New Zealand flag in Aussie territory.
Deane Buist Ford Escort RS1800 Alpine Rally

Deane Buist will be flying the New Zealand flag alongside Derek Ayson. Photo: Alpine Rally

The entry list doesn’t end there. The list also includes regular Australian chargers Luke Sytema, Nathan Reeves, Brett Middleton, Neil Schey, Grant Walker and Alan Friend. The list goes on and on. As the Alpine Rally promotions have said, the tradition continues in 2017, and it is set to be another classic. RallySport Magazine will have updates throughout the weekend. View the entry list HERE. https://rallysportmag.com/comment-alpine-rally-facing-tough-decisions/
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