Sunshine Coast sports fans will meet some of the biggest stars of the International Rally of Queensland when members of the Proton R3 Malaysia rally team make an exclusive appearance at a Sport-Biz lunch at Coolum Surf Cub on Friday 30 July.

Drivers Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae and their respective co-drivers Stephane Prevot and Bill Hayes will arrive at the lunch immediately after completing a morning shakedown session with other contenders from Japan, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia for the biggest championship rally to be staged in Australia this year.

After competing with mixed success in the first three rounds of the 2010 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand, the factory-backed  Proton R3 Malaysia team will arrive on the Sunshine Coast determined that their only Australian appearance this year delivers a podium result.

The Sport-Biz lunch will be hosted by Coast sports media identity Benny Pike.

It will offer sports fans more used to football, surfing or athletic personalities an opportunity not to be missed for a first-hand insight into the high-speed, high-pressure world of international rallying, says International Rally of Queensland Director Errol Bailey.

“Chris and Alister are among the elite group of the world’s best rally drivers. Their busy schedules don’t stop for long, so it’s a huge attraction to have them competing on the Sunshine Coast and attending the Sport-Biz lunch at Coolum Surf Club,” Mr Bailey said.

“The Sport-Biz lunch is an especially appropriate venue for their appearance, as the rally organisers are keen for Coast business representatives to experience how the International Rally of Queensland is able to make a significant contribution to the local economy and their own enterprises.”

Atkinson, the 30-year-old Monaco-based Queenslander who spent four years in the Subaru World Rally Team after winning Rally Queensland in 2004, will be joined on his “home” rally by his Belgian co-driver Prevot.

McRae, 39, is a member of Britain’s most famous rally dynasty.

His late brother Colin was 1995 World Rally Champion and father Jimmy a five-time British Champion. Alister won the British Championship also in 1995 and has contested the World Championship as a factory driver for Mitsubishi and Hyundai.

On his first Queensland visit, the Scottish driver will be guided by experienced Australian co-driver Bill Hayes.

The Sport-Biz rally lunch will start with drinks from 11.30 am, followed at 12 midday by a two-course lunch with wines, beer or soft drinks from the club’s function room, which provides magnificent ocean views.

Tickets cost $65 per head and can be purchase by phoning Coolum Surf Club on (07) 5446 1148.

Rally tickets are on sale now at Corporate Hospitality facilities for business guests are available at the Coates Hire Rally Shootout at Caloundra and the Imbil forestry Special Stages.
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