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Rally of Canberra organisers are looking forward to welcoming an increased number of international teams when the rally returns to the nation’s capital next May. 

Run as a joint round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship and the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the rally already has strong support from international teams, however the announcement this week of a new cup being introduced into the APRC in 2008 has the potential to increase this number even further.

The FIA has approved two new drivers awards for the 2008 season – the Pacific Cup and the Asia Cup - with the Pacific Cup likely to have a positive effect on the number of international crews participating in the Rally of Canberra, by making it more affordable for them to compete.

“The ‘Cup’ concept is an exciting new development that will allow teams to compete in international events, without the expense of doing the full APRC championship,” said APRC Team’s Coordinator Murray Brown.

“I am confident of a strong turn out for next year and believe the inclusion of both Cups will boost entries at all events,” he continued.

The Pacific Cup will involve teams competing in the three Pacific rounds of the APRC, those being Rally New Caledonia, Rally of Canberra, and Rally of Whangerei.

“It is a great initiative and I am glad that we can be a part of it,” said Rally of Canberra organiser, Mike Bell.

“The Rally of Canberra is known as one of the best rallies on the APRC calendar, and the Pacific Cup has the potential to bring more international crews to Australia which will be a huge boost for the event,” Bell continued.

2006 and 2007 NEC Australian Rally Champion, Toyota Racing Development’s Simon Evans, is looking forward to Rally of Canberra and is hopeful the new initiative will introduce Australian rallying to more international crews.

“Rally of Canberra is a fantastic event, not only do we get a chance to compete on the same stages as some great international drivers, but we get to showcase what rallying in Australia is all about to international rally fans and media,” said Evans.

“We have a great group of competitors in the NEC ARC and every event provides a new challenge, but I always look forward to the opportunity to see how we stack up against some of the international drivers,” he added.

With the World Rally Championship round, Rally Australia, being postponed until 2009,  Rally of Canberra will now provide the sole opportunity in 2008 for international crews to compete in Australia on an international licence.

“It is disappointing that Rally Australia could not get off the ground in time for 2008, however Rally of Canberra provides top level international rallying,” said Bell.

“It is a wonderful showcase of Australian roads and provides local drivers the chance to compete against international drivers.”

Former Australian Rally Champion and current APRC Champion, Cody Crocker, is excited about the potential both the Pacific Cup and its counterpart, the Asia Cup, have for the APRC. 

“I always love coming back and competing in Australia. It’s great to get back out on the roads and compare times with guys like Simon (Evans),” said Crocker. 

“Canberra is one of best places in the world to go rallying and the Rally of Canberra is a fantastic event. It has great infrastructure and fantastic roads.

Best of all, it is different every year - you are always challenged in new ways whenever you return."

“If the new cup concept can increase the number of international crews coming to Australia, then it is only going to strengthen the rally further,” added Crocker. 

Rally of Canberra will be held in the forests around Canberra on May 10 & 11, 2008.

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