Tasmanian rallyists are a hardy bunch. Only when the chill of winter is upon them do they deem the 2010 Tasmanian Rally Series ready to begin. With winter now upon us, twenty-five crews will tackle freezing temperatures in the Styx Valley Rally, held over 130 competitive kilometres in the forests north of Hobart this Saturday, June 5.

Defending champion Lynn Rattray and co-driver Lindon Hills will lead the field in a newly acquired 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Spec C. The car, purchased from Les Walkden Rallying, was campaigned by Cody Crocker in the 2009 WRC Rally Australia. The duo are chasing their fourth State title, a feat achieved by only three other drivers in the 46 year history of the series.

“We had a Spec C on order from Japan,” says Rattray, “but it kept being delayed so I bought this car, which is probably better than I could have built. It's better balanced (than the old car) and puts its power to the ground better. It should be faster - I would be disappointed if its not!”

Rattray and Hills will need to be in top form, as they head one of the strongest fields seen in many years. David Waldon, champion in 2006 and 2007, returns to the series after a two-year hiatus with Damien Grimwood calling the notes, in a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Spec C.

Fresh from fifth outright in Targa Tasmania, Jamie Vandenberg, champion from 2003-2005, returns to the gravel in a Mistubishi Evolution III after four years away from the series. Despite the older machinery, Vandenberg's speed and experience will ensure he is right at the pointy end.

Andrew Wylie, the 1999 champion, showed time off was no barrier to success, securing second outright in the last event of 2009 in his 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Spec C, another ex-Walkden car, despite nine years between events.

Further down the field will be the battle for two-wheel drive honours. Young pairing Stephen Turner and Anna Flittner are the defending class champions in their Ford Falcon XR6. They will be hoping to hold off the super quick Lee Petersen and new co-driver Daniel Willson, in a Nissan Pulsar Gti.

Marcus Walkem and Tim Kulhanek are also looking to build on their impressive 2009 speed, with their Toyota Sprinter undergoing substantial upgrades.

The first competition car will leave the New Norfolk esplanade at 9:00am with spectator information available from the start line this Saturday.

Pic: Stuart Edwards

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