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This Saturday, the Tasmanian Rally Series goes where it has never gone before.  Organised and promoted by the North West Car Club, the 2007 7BU Rocky Cape Hellyer Rally will be conducted in the forests around Mawbanna in the state’s north west.

Heading the field out from the Rocky Cape Tavern will be current series leader and 2006 title holders, David Waldon and Ross Ferguson, in the e-Home Subaru WRX from Hobart.  Behind them are three other WRX’s all trying to find ways to bridge the points gap that Waldon has opened up after only two rallies.

Chasing him the hardest will be Craig Brooks, with his regular co-driver Adrian Hodgetts back in the seat of the ultra-fast Roger’s Signs WRX.  Moving the rally’s location, however, has taken away Brooks’ ‘backyard’ advantage that he has had in the past, and although he is one of the few competitors in the field to have seen the roads, it’s been 10 years since he last competed in these forests.

That levels the playing field somewhat for the other contenders, Lynn Rattray and Lindon Hills, also from Burnie in the Pirtek WRX, and Lee Peterson and James Booker in the ARM WRX from Hobart.  The Peterson/Booker crew have suffered debilitating mechanical failures in both of the previous rounds, but not before showing some serious pace, and are keen to make amends.

For Waldon however, it will be a case of ‘steady as she goes’.  He’s got a whopping 42 point lead over Brooks, so all he needs to do is put a finish on the board and let the others fight it out for the points.

“It’s halfway through the series, so I don’t need to be doing anything silly at this rally.  My crew is urging me to try to make it three outright wins in a row, but I just want to bring the car home straight and make sure I get some points “ a very cautious Waldon said.

The Two Wheel Drive category is much much closer and there’ll be no chance to take it easy for any of the competitors. 

Heading the category at this stage is Hobart team Craig Sault and Scott Creswell in their Holden Commodore,  who have a two point advantage to fellow Hobartian’s, Christian Philp and Mark Watkinson in the Rockit Asphalting Ford TC Cortina.  Both teams have been working hard in the past six weeks, repairing damage sustained in the last round. 

The Sault/Creswell crew have repaired the diff that caused them to withdraw from the last event.  ‘Wally’ Philp had a lot more on his plate to bring the Cortina back to ‘as new’ condition after a rollover in the Huon forests.  Since then he has replaced the roof and both driver’s side doors, front suspension and windscreen, as well as performing repairs on the bonnet, front guards, and strengthening the rear of the car with a roll-cage upgrade.

“It’s been a lot of work, but I’m really looking forward to this rally.  The competition is so close and that adds to the fun of it”, Philp said

Further down the 2WD points order are locals Nick Kingston and Ben Korpershoek, both from the Circular Head area in the Smithton Laundry Service Holden Commodore.  They competed on these roads not long ago in a club rally that they used as a test for their re-developed V8 Commodore.  Disappointed with the lack of pace in the first round, they sat out the Huon rally to concentrate on getting the maximum out of the car for the Hellyer Rally.  The event runs inßß their backyard and the young guns of the series are planning to get their names back in the points this event.

The red-hot field will assemble at the Rocky Cape Tavern this Saturday morning from 7:30am, and the first car will depart at 9:00am.  The competition will be held over two heats, each with four stages, covering a total of 120 competitive kilometres.  The first car is expected to finish back at the Tavern at around 5:00pm.

There are two spectator areas where the cars can be viewed.  Spectator guides are available from event sponsors and online at www.nwcctas.org.au.

Photos: Potter Photography

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