According to a report on, Subaru World Rally Team manager Paul Howarth has driven the stages for next year’s Repco Rally Australia and says they will be some of the fastest in the whole season.

Howarth apparently visited the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on his way home from Rally New Zealand and inspected the competitive stages in the Tweed and Kyogle Shires.

Howarth told that the new roads bore no relation to the loose gravel tracks of the Perth based event, but would still present a unique challenge to teams and drivers.

“The stages are basically well used farm feeder roads,” he said. “Compared to the other gravel roads we compete on they are smooth, very wide and have a very hard base. The surface is almost like bitumen in places. It’s the sort of road that will turn black with tyre rubber. It’s going to be a very fast rally; perhaps the fastest of the season.

“The roads are quite unlike anything else in the season. They are as fast and smooth as those in Finland but with none of blind crests or jumps. Saying that, it should be quite a safe rally because there aren’t too many hazards immediately off the road. There are a couple of short, twisty 5km stages in the forests, but on the whole the roads are out in open countryside. About 35 per cent of the route is under tree cover.”

Subaru World Rally Team driver Chris Atkinson, who grew up on the Gold Coast, about 40 minutes north of the rally’s Kingscliff base, said he had little rally experience on the roads to be used. “I’ve rallied a few hundred kilometres north and a few hundred south, but never actually there,” said Atkinson.

“To be honest, up to now I’ve been more interested in the beaches and the water than exploring inland! But it looks like next year’s route will be different to anything else I’ve done before. The region is the site of ancient volcano, so it’s very picturesque and mountainous. The stages are completely different to the red earth ones of Perth, but in a country this size that’s hardly surprising - pretty much every region has its own type of road. From what I know the stages are going to be fast and flowing. I reckon we’ll see a lot of action.”

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