When the 2020 MTA Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship season finally begins next month, there will be a number of familiar RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) names on the entry list.
With 58 crews already entered into the popular Rally of the Bay and only 32 spots left to fill, the competition for the first state rally event in the country since motorsport was put on halt due to COVID-19 features a number of a high-profile names.
Headlining the long list of ARC crews is 2019 ARC champions Harry Bates and John McCarthy with the duo running in their championship winning Toyota Yaris AP4.
Joining the reigning ARC champions on the entry list are Toyota Gazoo Racing teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony Mcloughlin, 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith, 2018 Kennards Hire Rally Australia stage winners JJ Hatton and Nathan Long and Irishman Richie Dalton alongside Dale Moscatt.
Other notable ARC names confirmed to start their 2020 campaigns off in Bateman’s Bay are Chris Higgs, Troy Dowel, Tom Clarke, Arron Windus, Andrew Penny and young star Taylor Gill.
With such a mixed array of regular ARC crews to battle it out for the first time in 2020, the reigning ARC champion couldn’t wait to get out and rally again.
“Ideally we would be getting ready for the third round of the ARC but obviously we are not due to COVID-19, so we’re very excited to finally be back,” Harry Bates said.
“We were always planning to do an event as a test prior to the first round of the revised ARC calendar after so long out of the car, and what better event to do it at than Batemans Bay. It’s only an hour and half from home and it’s quite special to me.
“I was very keen to do it because it’s not only a fantastic event, but it was where I did my first ever rally back in 2014 and I have only been back once since. It will be the first time in five years I compete there and I know they’re fantastic roads.
“I had a look at the entry list and there are a lot of talented people doing it. Plenty of crews are capable of challenging for podiums and stage wins, but I am hoping to go out and set some of the fastest times and pick up where we left off in 2019. But I am well aware we’ll have to work hard to do that.
“The main goal though is to get rid of the cobwebs on the car as we have not driven for a while. The priority is obviously the ARC so next month’s event is an ideal test and I will be looking to be competitive as I can.”
Despite entries for the Rally of the Bay still being open, North Shore Sporting Car Club President Brett Middleton was confident it would fill up quickly and was impressed with the calibre of entrants already confirmed.
“It’s a good feeling knowing we may be one of the first state rallies to take place since restrictions around the country begun to ease and what a way to start off the season,” Middleton said.
“An event with some of the best roads in Australia with some of the best crews in the country, including the likes of the Bates brothers and Nathan Quinn, is really exciting.
“The Eurobodalla Shire has also been really welcoming and supportive with getting this rally off the ground, especially in the current circumstances, so we’re looking forward to the 2020 season opener.”
The event will be subject to local government restrictions and will run according to the Return To Race strategy, which has specific guidelines for rally events.
The Rally of the Bay takes place on 4 July in Bateman Bay.