With 2019 Victorian Rally Champion Arron Windus the most recent high profile name to confirm his spot in the Netier National Capital Rally in Canberra, the field is beginning to take shape as one of the strongest line ups in recent years.
Already, 38 crews have entered the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season opener with all supporting ARC cups made up of multiple entries.
While Windus and co-driver Daniel Brick would consider themselves a chance to sneak into the outright top five, the duo also form part of a very impressive White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup pool of talent.
Windus will find himself fighting out for Production Cup honours against the likes of Chris Higgs and Clayton Hoy– both of whom produced a number of respectable stage results at last year’s Netier National Capital Rally.
With all three drivers likely to be a slight chance for overall honours too, they have plenty of big names to worry about in the outright competition, including the reigning champion, Harry Bates who enters the event having won the past six ARC rounds.
Bates’ Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammate Lewis Bates and Shamrock Haulage’s Richie Dalton have also entered the event already and feature as the biggest threats to stop the number one seed in claiming a seventh consecutive ARC round.
Other notable drivers to have entered are Rally Australia stage winner JJ Hatton, Fiesta R5 pilot Luke Anear and 2011 ARC champion Justin Dowel.
In addition to the main contenders, there is one driver entered in Canberra who already has people talking – 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn.
The New South Welshman is locked and loaded for an appearance in Canberra and Ray Winwood-Smith has the honour of sitting alongside him for the season opener – the only catch being their car remains a mystery.
While their entry has been welcomed by the rally community as one of the top drivers in the field – what car they will be driving will certainly make a difference as to whether they are challenging or cruising.
The other intriguing battle to take place in Canberra later this month will be that of the Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup, with a handful of young stars mixing it up with the experienced heads.
In terms of the young drivers destined to make a name for themselves in the rally, Ryan Williams and Aidan Peterson would surprise no one should one of them claim top honours in the Cup.
The experience of any one of Kevin Raedel, Trevor Stilling or Adrian Stratford would also be confident of walking away Canberra as the 2WD Cup winner.
Out of the current entry list, the feel good story once again sits with Troy Dowel who continues his inspirational journey to the ARC after defeating an 18-month battle with acute leukaemia.
Entries to the ARC season opener are still being accepted until 5pm AEDT on 12 March, with interested crews encouraged to enter before the event reaches capacity. A full entry list will be revealed upon entry closure.
The Netier National Capital Rally takes place in and around the forests of Canberra on 26-28 March.
Photos: Sportz Fotos