A number of Western Australian rally crews, including last year’s WARC title holders Tom and Nerralie Wilde, will take part in the second running of Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast this weekend.

The Wilde’s, who recently conducted a testing day with former World Rally Championship driver and rallying legend Alister McRae, have spent the year preparing for the rallyschool.com.au junior challenge on the big stage at Rally Australia instead of competing in the WARC.

“The day with Alister McRae went really well,” Tom Wilde said. “We took a lot of stuff out of it and now feel we’re ready for the junior challenge at Rally Australia.”

Wilde said the experience with McRae was priceless and hoped to put into practice the wisdom that was installed in him on the day.

“We worked on how to choose smoother lines through corners and also spent quite a bit of time on how to take better pace-notes as well,” Wilde said.

“We have prepared well for the junior challenge at Rally Australia - now we’re just going to go out there and give it our best shot and we’ll see where we are after the first stage is complete and then decide how hard to go,” he said.

21 year-old Jack Flanagan will contest the 2WD section of the rallyschool.com.au junior challenge and said he was a mixture of excited and anxious on the eve of his first rally outside Western Australia.

“I picked up my new car the Daihatsu Charade last week and on Monday I tested it and that was the first time I drove it, which makes me a little anxious,” Flanagan said. “I got used to it pretty quickly though because it is a front-wheel drive same as my old car. It just doesn’t have as much power as the rear-wheel drives, which basically everyone else in the category.”

Competing in the World Rally Championship Group N section and contesting his first Rally Australia is West Australian Razvan Vlad who said his Ford Fiesta ST should suit the winding Coffs Coast roads.

“I can’t wait. This is why I bought this car: So I could do Rally Australia. I am really excited,” Vlad said.

“We actually did a test yesterday and it was very nice. The roads are very good, twisty and narrow and that should be an advantage four our small and nifty car,” he said.

Meanwhile, John Bruinsma from the Holden Rally Team will take his ARC 2WD leading Holden Commodore through its paces on the winding Coffs Coast roads and will not be daunted by the international Rally Australia field.

“It’s great to be there with all the blokes from Europe and all that and I am looking forward to seeing some of them in action,” started Bruinsma. “But we’re pretty focused on our little show at the moment. We’re still going to run our race.”

“The European guys are just spinning out with 460 horse power - they were pretty amazed. It leaves a lasting impression of Australia with them as well and that is what we’re about at the Holden Rally Team,” he said.

Bruinsma said he hoped to maintain his lead in the 2WD section of the ARC but promised to still entertain the fans at spectator points where possible.

“There are still spectator points that need to be entertained,” Bruinsma laughed. “It’s still just liaison between spectator points – I’ve told my new co driver Adam Phillip to note where they are.”

Despite his status as a rallying veteran, it will also be West Australian Graeme Miles’ first attempt at Rally Australia who is said his aim was to just finish the event.

“We’re aiming to finish the rally and then if we finish in the top 20 outright in the ARC that would be like winning for us,” said Miles.

“It’s going to be awesome. The roads have good traction – the winding roads should be fast but there are very few straight stretches to really put your foot down,” he said. “I am very excited, well, as excited as a 57 year-old can get anyway,” joked Miles.

Lee Tierney will also contest the rally as Mark Pedder’s co-driver. Rally Australia starts this Thursday September 8 and will conclude on Sunday September 11.
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