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Australia’s longest running tarmac rally, the Burnie-based Rally Tasmania, will kick off the 2010 Australian Rally Championship in February next year.

Rally Tasmania will celebrate its 30th edition when it runs from February 26 to 28, with many of Australia’s fastest rally drivers already committing to the event.

Starting on Friday afternoon, competitors will contest 20 timed special stages three days, including the exciting Burnie street stage, which will conclude the event on Sunday afternoon.

It will be the second time that Rally Tasmania has opened the national rally series. In February this year the event showcased an enthralling battle between the Super 2000 Toyota Corollas of multiple champions Neal Bates and Simon Evans.

Bates went on to win the event by just 12.5 seconds, but it was Evans who would win his third Australian Rally Championship after a dominant season, swapping to a Mitsubishi Lancer for the final four rounds.

Five months out from the 2010 event, the Victorian concreter is already looking forward to returning to Rally Tasmania.

“It’s a great event and the enthusiasm of the people on the north west coast of Tasmania makes for a great atmosphere at the rally,” Evans said.

“As the only tarmac event in the championship it adds some variety to the ARC, but it also means that securing a good haul of points at the first round is vitally important.

“I can’t wait for the Super Special Stage around the streets of Burnie. One of the great aspects of rallying is being able to perform in front of big crowds, and I’m sure they won’t get any bigger than at the Burnie street stage,” Evans added.

Rally Tasmania event manager, Kevin O’Daly, said he was thrilled to be welcoming the ARC back to Tasmania again.

“It’s great to see Rally Tasmania once again chosen as the opening round of the championship,” O’Daly said.

“Our event benefits from the increased spectator numbers that the Australian Rally Championship generates, and as a result of that, local businesses on the north west coast will benefit as well.

“Like Rally Tasmania, the ARC has a long and successful history, and we welcome the ARC competitors back with open arms,” he added.

As well as being the ARC opener, Rally Tasmania will also attract the cream of Australia’s tarmac rally crews, with Tony Quinn (Nissan GTR), Jim Richards (Porsche), Tony Longhurst (Subaru), Jamie Vandenberg (Mitsubishi) and Jason White (Lamborghini) all expected to be among the full field of competitors.

Over its 30-year history, Rally Tasmania has gained a reputation for slick organisation and brilliant roads, and has a long list of loyal competitors who keep coming back to the event year after year.

The 2010 event, from February 26 to 28, is expected to continue that tradition.

2010 Australian Rally Championship calendar:

1. Tasmania, 26th- 28th February

2. Western Australia, 27th -  28th March

3. New South Wales, 15th – 16th May

4. South Australia, 26th – 27th June  

5. Queensland, 31 July/1 August (APRC)

6. Victoria, TBA
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