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One of the state’s premier motorsport events, Rally Tasmania, has been confirmed as the opening round of the 2009 Australian Rally Championship, to be held in Burnie on February 13, 14 and 15.

This will be the first time the all-tarmac rally has been a round of the national championship, although in it’s pre-tarmac days it was a round of the ARC when conducted on gravel.

Its inclusion on the ARC calendar follows the successful conduct of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge in October, which took over the running of the ARC round when the Rally of Melbourne withdrew from the series at short notice.

The work of  the Burnie-based organisers and volunteers impressed senior motorsport officials who have now voted in favour of the region hosting another round of the Championship.

Rally Tasmania has again received the full support of the Burnie City Council, and according to Mayor Alwyn Boyd, the national championship status sits well with the event.

“For many years Rally Tasmania has been the premier motorsport event in Burnie, and for it to receive Australian Rally Championship status is true recognition of the quality of organisation,” Mr Boyd said.

“The Burnie City Council are pleased to be once again supporting the event, and we’re looking forward to a bigger and better rally in 2009.”

Rally Tasmania has also received the full support of  Burnie Sports and Events, and a gala atmosphere is being planned around the rally.

The highlight of last year’s event was an exciting stage through the streets of Burnie, and event manager, Scott Spedding, says the stage will make a planned return in 2009.

“Competitors and spectators really loved the street stage this year, so we feel obliged to run it again in 2009,” Spedding said. “A street stage is only made possible through the co-operation of the City Council, local businesses and residents, and we’re hoping to receive their support once again.”

Rally Tasmania will begin with a ceromonial start on Friday, February 13, followed by four stages that afternoon. Competition will continue on Saturday and Sunday, with a total of 20 special stages and around 220 competitive kilometres on offer.

As well as being a round of the Australian Rally Championship, Rally Tasmania will also include classes for Classic and Modern tarmac rally cars. Along with all the regular ARC teams, entries are also expected from former Bathurst winners Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst, and a host of other high profile tarmac rally driver
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