A full field of 60 cars are set to tackle the longest event on the NSW rally calendar, the Kosciuszko Automotive Monaro Stages near Bombala in the state's south east.
Organisers have again set a new challenge to competitors, selecting an entirely new route, covering 190km of the region's best roads.
Based out of the Bondi Forest Lodge and travelling through both mature and harvested pine plantations, the stages offer fast, flowing, well-constructed gravel roads. Laid out over typical undulating Monaro terrain, the event has everything it needs to be the most exciting, adrenaline charged rally of the season.
The field takes in competitors of every level, from entrants in the introductory level Regularity event, competing in their very first rally, through to seasoned regulars battling it out at the front of the NSW Rally Championship.
The Wild Brumby Distillery/Jindabyne Brewing Rally Regularity section of the event has attracted three entries including Jacci Sharkey, who is competing in her first event as a driver, with last year's DRS2 winner Chris Stilling co-driving.
They are joined in the introductory level event, consisting of four stages, by Phil Chisholm. Phil is driving in his second rally after competing in the Caves Classic event earlier in the month.
ACT Series competitors will be chasing strong finishes as each of the sections of the series are still anyone's, with only a handful of points separating leaders. These include Andrew Penny and Mel McMinn (Gold Cup), Mike Behnke and Ellie Yates (Silver Cup and Clubman) and Chris Stilling and Erin Baker (Novice).
The Monaro Stages also sees the return of series regular Kelly Caruana in her newly built VE SS Commodore, the debut of which has been much anticipated with everyone keen to hear the echo of the V8 through the forest.
Mal Keough has a strong lead in the East Coast Classic Rally Series in his popular Audi Quattro.
In the Techworkz Automotive Clubman Series a close fought battle is set to continue with leader Jake Bramble, co-driven by Josh Love, in their classic Datsun 1600 only one point in front of Matt and Guy Ruggles in the Triumph TR7.
Close behind and poised to really make the remainder of the season interesting are Ron and Steve McKinnon (LA Lancer), only 9 points adrift in third, followed by Eoin Moynihan/John Brophy (Mk2 Escort) and Ben VanZyl/Nadine Bucher (Hyundai Excel). Moynihan won the Oberon round and VanZyl currently leads the Premier Panel Beating Hyundai Series.
As the penultimate round of the MTA NSW Rally Championship, currently lead by Tom Clarke in a Lancer Evo 9, the stage is set for yet another tight contest with the top three separated by just 11 points.
Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell showed everyone at Oberon that the 4WDs aren’t going to have it all their own way after an inspired drive in the front-wheel drive Citroën DS3, snatching victory by just 2.1 seconds on the final stage, moving to second in the championship.
Third in the championship is Mal Keogh and Pip Bennet in their impressive Audi Quattro S1. A favourite with fans, the pair's performance this year has also propelled them to a substantial lead in the East Coast Classic Series in front of Clubman leader Jake Bramble.
There’s also a few familiar faces returning to the forests for the Monaro stages, including the 2019 NSW Rally Champion Richard Shimmon, who has spent the last year giving his Evo 7 a freshen up.
Tony Sullens won last time out at the Caves Classic Rally in his Citroen.
2019 DRS4 winner, Jack Mobbs, is also back for the first time since last year's Monaro Stages and will be running his new turbo Liberty.
Gwynn Mulholland, usually seen carrying out Stewards' duties at events across the state, has entered his Cortina in the regularity section of the rally.
Since its inception in 2017, Andrew and Georgina Penny of Kosciuszko Automotive in Jindabyne have been naming partners and that support continues in 2020. Andrew and co-driver Rhys Llewellyn managed to win the 2019 event outright and will be looking to repeat that success this year.
It's ongoing support like this from local businesses, community members and competitors that has made Monaro Stages a fixture on the NSW rally calendar, growing from a clubman event to a full State Championship round.
In 2018, even after being impacted by heavy rain, it was awarded Best State Event at the CAMS State Awards.
Action gets underway at 8:30 am on Saturday and, with the help of internet service provided by SkyMesh, everyone will be able to keep up to date with results and stories throughout the day via the Kosciuszko Automotive Monaro Stages Rally Facebook page, Rallysafe and Chrissport.
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