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Next year’s Victorian Rally Championship calendar, released just days ago, is down to five events, thanks to the cancellation of the NGK Rally of Melbourne, Victoria’s ARC round, of which the VRC was a part. The ROM was also to be the last round of the Victorian Championship.

The VRC’s opening round will be the Cerberus Stages on March 17, and is scheduled to run in the Nojee and Powelltown areas as it did this year. Again the event will be promoted by the Cerberus Car Club under the direction of Luke Teunissen, however the club will no doubt be looking for an improvement on this year’s wet and slippery conditions.

Round 2 sees the VRC circus heading to East Gippsland for the East Gippsland Stages on May 5. The East Gippsland Stages, a new event on the regular VRC calendar, is being directed by Peter Otzen for the Melbourne University Car Club and promises some great stages and quality roads in this little-used area of the state.

Just five weeks later competitors will make the long trek to Bega for the popular combined  NSW-Victorian round on June 10 which will be under Graham Roser’s direction. Despite an eight hour trip to the event start from Melbourne, the Bega Valley Rally will be well attended as it is traditionally a favourite of Victorian crews, thanks to its fast and smooth shire roads. The customary interstate challenge between the leading crews from both states will once more be a highlight, and should ensure a tight battle for supremacy.

A familiar name in past VRC events, the George Derrick Memorial Rally, will see crews competing in a little-used area of Gippsland around Erica and Heyfield, north of Moe, on July 21. Clerk of Course Andrew Ormesher will take the reigns for this event and is sure to find some challenging and interesting roads for his event as the VRC reaches the three-quarter mark. A bumper field seems assured as the George Derrick will also be a round of the Victorian Clubman Rally Series. Around 70 crews can be expected to attend this event which uses officially closed roads.

There should be no excuse for competitors not having their cars ready for the fifth and possibly final VRC round for the year – 12 weeks separate the George Derrick from the Akademos Rally on October 13. For the Akademos, crews will head north east from Melbourne to the Blue Range area of the state into familiar rally country around Alexandra. A favourite rally area for many, the Akademos will be another State Championship round for the very active Melbourne University Car Club. Natasha Swan will be in charge.

A replacement for the calendared final championship round, the NGK Rally of Melbourne, seems unlikely, which will be a disappointment to those crews who relish the enjoyable stages in the Yarra Valley. The event is unlikely to be resurrected after the event’s promoters, Neil Cuthbert and Justin Hunt, withdrew their support, citing family and financial reasons. Therefore the 2007 VRC looks like being fought out over just five events. One event that was expected to feature in the 2007 calendar was the Ballarat Begonia Rally but internal squabbling saw it pulled from the calendar this year and an application to run it next year failed to materialize.

Nevertheless, despite a shortened calendar, the Victorian Rally Championship will once more be a hotly contested series that will spring a few surprises along the way and see the emergence of some new names as well as the re-appearance of some familiar ones.

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