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Some of the tightest battles this season have been in the 4WD National Rally Series and it will continue as three drivers head to Rally Victoria determined to knock each other off for the runners up position.
With New South Welshman John Mitchell having secured the title at the previous Round in Coffs Harbour, it will be up to Irishman Richie Dalton in his Subaru Impreza and Mike Bailey in his Mitsubishi Lancer, with outside chance Michael Harding in his Subaru Impreza, left to fight it out for second.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend for sure,” exclaimed Dalton. “I can’t wait to get down there and get racing!”
“I’m looking forward to a really exciting battle,” added Queenslander Bailey. “It’d be really easy to get knocked off the podium, so I’m looking to drive consistently and get to the finish!”
Dalton and Bailey head to Victoria and the final Round separated by just 11 points, with Harding 52 points back still in with a mathematical chance, albeit a very slim one.
“I’m really heading to Victoria to have some fun,” said Michael Harding. “If we get a good result that’s awesome. I’m really not thinking about second place in the Championship, so while we have a theoretical chance it’s a long shot at best.”
Dalton, who holds the slender points advantage in the second place race, had been on the verge of withdrawing from the battle due to budget constraints.
“If you’d asked me yesterday I’d have said I wasn’t going to be able to commit. Overnight though, with massive support from the Cat and Fiddle Hotel in Balmain and my very good mate Ivan Cummins, we can confirm we’ll be ready to fight it out,” said Dalton.
Having debuted a new partnership at the last Round in Coffs Harbour, Dalton also confirmed he would once again be paired with experienced navigator John Allen. “I’m really delighted to have John back in the car. He really boosted my confidence in Coffs, and it’s incredible how much I learnt from him!”
Bailey meanwhile is hoping consistency rather than speed will get him ahead of Dalton by the time they reach the finish ramp on Saturday afternoon. “The pace this year has been exceptional, and John Mitchell has been that pace setter. I just want to focus on a good, trouble-free rally to see me home.”
“We have had an up and down year, and the last rally in Coffs Harbour was pretty awful. Between nearly running out of fuel on the long stage, losing the intercom and then having an off on the Super Special stage and caving the front of the car in, it was pretty much a rally to forget,” exclaimed Bailey.
“I was happy to get to the end in Coffs, and now I’m hoping I can head to Victoria with that monkey off my back and aiming to give Ritchie a really good run,” added Bailey.
Meanwhile outsider Harding has a couple of extra tricks up his sleeve to debut in Victoria. “Since Coffs we’ve changed the car from restricted to unrestricted, which has given us an extra 40 kilowatts, which is a lot!”
“On top of that we blew up our gearbox at a recent State Round, so we’ve splashed out and got ourselves a sequential gearbox for the car. I’ve not raced in Victoria before but I know the roads are fast, so with more power and a sequential gearbox I’m hoping that’s all going to work in our favour!”
“We won the NSW title last year, we just won the ACT title this year, and it would have been great to have been a part of the fight for the National title too,” Harding said. “Things haven’t gone our way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a heap of fun at the last Round!”
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