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The Specialised Brake and Clutch Service Jenolan Rally is the opening event of the 2009 Pipe King Rally Series and will take place on Saturday, April 4 in the Jenolan State Forest, near Hampton.

The roads around Hampton have a reputation for providing quality rallying to test the over-subscribed field of 50 AMSAG competitors. The stages consist of flowing roads connected by tight-apex junctions, with surfaces changing from slippery red clay through to hard gravel. In addition, the rally winds in and out of harvested forest areas which provide further challenges as drivers will need to adapt to changeable road conditions.

In the felled forestry areas the stages develop a ‘fast’ line where the gravel has been cleared by the first few cars on the stages and the traction level is high. Under the trees the stages are slippery and often damp, with grass and pine-needles littering the side of the road. The event is split into two sections - night and day - with approximately half of the 115km being contested at night, culminating in a testing 40km stage to decide to outcome.

One of the main features of the Specialised Brake and Clutch Service Jenolan Rally is the compact nature of the event. The service park is situated within walking distance of up to three spectator points and is a constant hub of activity with spectating, servicing, scoring, catering and toilet facilities all at this location. The rally begins with a short ‘Super Special’ adjacent to the service area.

If 2008 form is anything to go by, all the top drivers will be faced with the challenge of trying to keep pace with the AMSAG Champion, Brad Goldsbrough, in his classic Datsun 1600.

‘Goldy’ won all but one AMSAG events in 2008, including the Jenolan Rally, in what can only be described as an awesome effort considering the nature of the opposition he faced. The only round he didn’t win was Cowra where he suffered mechanical problems while leading the event by nearly 30 seconds after only three stages. Under the AMSAG rules he was able to fix the damage and rejoin the field by the last stage of the day.

What is even more remarkable is that all AMSAG events run in two categories – Classic and Open. Brad was able to record overall times ahead of the Open category competitors in his 40-year old car simply by driving the ‘wheels off’ the Datsun, affectionately known as ‘The Little General’.

The Classic category at Jenolan consists of a number of competitors looking to end the Goldsbrough dominance. Stalwarts Jack Wightman and Jim Gleeson have entered a Datsun 260Z and will be amongst the front runners, as will Bill Brown in his immaculately prepared Datsun 1600. Jim Middleton returns, driving in a newly built Holden Commodore and will be looking to establish himself as a front-running competitor.

AMSAG debutant Jayke Skeffington has shown impressive speed in the few events he has contested in his Datsun 1600 and there is speculation that he may have the speed to contest for podium positions. John Hills returns in the BDA Mk1 Escort, Mark Callinan in the BMW and Matt Stretton in the V8 Mercedes all cannot be discounted from outright predictions.

The Open Series will be an interesting battle between 2WD and 4WD vehicles, with Gareth Morgan-Thomas and Matt Ruggles starting as favourite in their Subaru WRX. Graeme Cook has entered a turbocharged 2WD Nissan Silvia, and Gerald Schofield is back in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6. Also aiming for the Open podium will be Matt and Adam Young in the thundering V8 Commodore, whilst Trevor Parsonage in the spectacularly driven turbocharged Bluebird will make his presence felt.

The Rookies Series is a new initiative from AMSAG as the club strives to provide grass-roots entry level motorsport, and a field of 17 competitors highlights the strength of AMSAG in the current rallying environment.

Tom Clarke (Datsun) and Anthony Campbell (Commodore) are the most likely to take it to Jayke Skeffington, however there are strong claims to be made for Michael Batt, Darren McGuire and Tim Joass to figure in the results. Thornleigh Car Club have supported the series well, with no less than three entries originating for that group.

Spectator information is available via the AMSAG website: www.amsag.com.au. Competitors interested in upcoming AMSAG events as part of the 2009 Pipe King Rally Series can also find information about the club at the website.

Photos: Geoff Benson

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