Tasmania’s north is set to host the cream of Australia’s tarmac rally drivers when Rally Tasmania gets underway on February 15, and further entrants are expected before the field closes this Friday (January 25).

Already, 2007 Targa champion Tony Sullens, seven-time Bathurst winner Jim Richards, and two-time Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst, have confirmed their participation in the modern section.

Entries have been received from all over Australia for the three-day event, which takes place from February 15 to 17.

Tasmania’s sole entry for the classic section, David Cooper, with his 1977 Holden Torana A9X, has entered Rally Tasmania 11 times. The only year he missed was when his son was born at the time of the event.

“It’s a fair dinkum rally where the fastest person wins. There is no handicap, which could see a Mini beat you, like happens in some other bitumen events,” Cooper said.

Despite carrying the hope for Tasmania, the Launceston driver said he is confident of a strong performance.

“We enter with the intention of finishing in the top three,” he added.

Another Tasmanian poised to pounce in the modern section of Rally Tasmania is Burnie’s Jamie Vandenberg, driving a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9.

After a tough battle for third against Tony Quinn in Rally Burnie, Vandenberg is set to push his car to the front of the field for what should be a fierce fight.

“We have made a few adjustments to the car since Rally Burnie which will hopefully put us in the top end of the field,” Vandenberg said.

The quality field of competitors and cars - ranging from Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and the new Subaru WRX STI - promises to provide many exciting battles.

“With people like Jim Richards and his co-driver Barry Oliver in there, it’s always going to be a good challenge. It’s going to get very close at the end of the rally,” Vandenberg added.

“Our goal is to finish in the top five, but it would be great to finish in the top three.”

More than 70 cars are set to roll into the north of the state for the Friday start in Wilson Street, in the heart of Burnie, at 3.45pm on Friday, February 15. Rally Tasmania will take entrants through some of tarmac rallying’s iconic roads, such as Hellyer Gorge and Savage River.

There are a total of 21 stages across 200.87 competitive kilometres, with the first cars expected to cross the finish line in North Terrace in Burnie at 2pm on Sunday, February 17.

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