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School’s in for tarmac rally rookies

Would-be rally stars will have the benefit of expert advice if they sign up for the next round of the Australian Tarmac Rally Championship in October.

Event director Peter Washington has booked professional co-driver Bernie Webb to run a special introductory session on Friday, October 2, the day before the Great Tarmac Rally gets underway.

Bernie is the reigning ATRC champion and has been rallying at national level for nearly 20 years. He has competed with factory-backed teams and privateer crews, notching up multiple wins including outright victory in Targa Tasmania. Along with driver/business partner, Steve Glenney, he produces Smoothline Stage Notes for every tarmac rally in Australia.

“The introduction session will teach the rookies what to expect on the event, with a particular focus on ‘traps for young players’ as well as how to approach the competitive environment safely,” Bernie says.

“Part of Smoothline’s mission is to make tarmac rallying as accessible as possible. When I first started in the sport, it was very difficult to tap into knowledge about how to go fast safely. Steve and I have worked hard to change that, and we’re happy to share that information.”

All first-time entrants to the ATRC will be required to attend the session but both Bernie and Peter Washington stress that it is open to all competitors who want to attend.

“I’m excited about Bernie agreeing to share some of his knowledge at our event,” Peter says.

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“Having Smoothline as the official supplier of stage notes to the Australian Tarmac Rally Championship has already bolstered our reputation as a provider of high quality motorsport events that are also run in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

“Our touring category lets people put a toe in the water to try tarmac rallying, just using their regular road car with no modifications required. If they like what they experience, they can then choose to continue in that category or take the next step.

“We’re proud that the ATRC is ‘user-friendly’ for anyone, and now with Bernie’s help, we’re taking things a bit further and ensuring we provide a solid grounding for people who are starting out. These sessions will be a part of what Mountain Motorsports provides at all future events.”

The Marysville/Reefton Spur area of Victoria’s Yarra Valley/Yarra Ranges will come alive with the sound of engines over the first weekend of October as the competing cars converge on the region for the third round of the 2015 ATRC.

Made up of four events that are contested in Victoria’s Alpine region and East Gippsland, the series kicked off with the Mt Baw Baw Sprint in February, and Round Two run at Lake Mountain in March. The final round will be run the first weekend in December and is based in Lakes Entrance.

The Great Tarmac Rally will see the cars tackle 210km of competitive stages, often described by competitors as some of the most challenging they have seen.

Starting at Marysville, the GTR travels through Camberville and Cumberland Junction in a stage including what many consider the highlight of any rally in Victoria: Reefton Spur. With one corner after another over its 37km length, the road follows ridge-crests looking out over the Upper Yarra Catchment Basin. All roads used in the event will be closed to public use during the competition runs.

Melbourne-based events company Mountain Motor Sports runs the series, which offers two levels of driving: one for fully licensed rally drivers, competing against the clock in specially prepared rally cars. The other group is the ‘touring’ category, which allows would-be rally drivers a ‘taste’ of tarmac rallying by driving their road car at higher-than-usual road speeds behind an experienced rally driver who demonstrates the right techniques.

While the ATRC is based in Victoria, the events attract competitors from every state in Australia.

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