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The dramatically worsening spat between CAMS and the Victorian Rally Panel came to a head at the Victorian State Council Executive meeting last night when the board refused to accept the nomination of this year’s VRP Chairman, Ian Crook, for the 2008 season.

Despite having the full support of the Victorian Rally Panel and being well respected by the Victorian rallying community, Crook failed to gain the critical support needed to continue in the role.

With Crook effectively being given a vote of no confidence by the CAMS Board, deputy chairman, Stuart Lister, without doubt the most experienced rally person in the state, tendered his resignation in a move that seems likely to be copied by the entire Victorian Rally Panel.

The ongoing feud between the two parties reached flashpoint last week when the members of the VRP announced that they had formed an incorporated body, the Victorian Rally Organisation, which would allow the panel to hold funds and resources on behalf of the rally community.  This also meant that the VRO could potentially facilitate the proper management of any events run either inside or outside CAMS to ensure all events are conducted in a consistent, responsible manner.  Previously the VRP could have no influence on events run under alternate sanctioning bodies. 

What instigated the split was, amongst other things, the refusal of CAMS to give control of monies collected by the Victorian rally community back to the VRP. The VRP claim that over $70,000 worth of funds, raised by contributions towards the road damage fund, the trophy fund and the rally promotions fund (and which were made solely through the instigation of the rally community) remain locked in CAMS’ account where they are said to remain in a non-interest bearing account.

Requests by the VRP to access these funds to purchase equipment for the benefit of rallying, and to control their use, have met with stonewalling, with CAMS claiming that any equipment purchased would remain CAMS’ property, not that of the rallying community at large.

Crook’s snub by CAMS and Lister’s resignation will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications, particularly if, as seems likely, the Victorian Rally Panel members fail to renominate for positions on the panel next year.

Lister is considered the most experienced person in Victorian rallying, with over 40 years experience in all aspects of the sport. Finding a replacement for both Lister and Crook will be difficult, given the current mood of the rallying community, and CAMS will need to act quickly to stem the flow of blood letting.

There are interesting times ahead for the sport in Victoria. The challenge will be to satisfy both sides in the argument and to revert to a situation where both parties can get back to doing what they are appointed to do – promote rallying in Victoria.

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