An impressive 22 crews will do battle on the Coffs Coast next month for the CAMS Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season finale.
Headlining the Kennards Hire Rally Australia national championship entry list is Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read, with the duo locked in a tight battle for outright runner-up honours with Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin.
With 2019 champions Harry Bates & John McCarthy opting not to qualify for the national class in the WRC field, the trusty Toyota Corolla S2000 will return to service with former factory Toyota driver Ben Barker returning to the squad alongside co-driver Damien Long.
Both crews have entered both the ARC and the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) final round, with AGI Sport’s Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis joining Truck Wholesale WA John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver as the other cross-entered crews in their respective R5 machinery.
The remaining 18 crews on the ARC feature a number of returning stars, debutants and international drivers as Japanese driver Satoshi Imai makes his ARC debut alongside New Zealander Jason Farmer in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X N4.
Activ Rallysport will once again arrive with a full complement of four G4 cars in the ARC, as Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt lead the charge after taking out the Akademos Rally earlier this month.
Fellow Irishman Justin Hatton and co-driver Nathan Long return to the event, which saw them become the only crew outside the big four to win a stage in last year’s event.
Joining the two Irishmen with the G4 cars will be Justin Dowel and Kate Catford in the Hyundai i20, and Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo.
A number of other familiar names form part of the ARC field with Zayne Admiraal jumping in the passenger seat alongside Guy Tyler, South Australian Craig Haysman’s Triumph TR7 will continue to roar with Julie Boorman, and recent tarmac rally convert Ben Calder will have last year’s winning driver Steve Glenney as his co-driver.
Ethan Pickstock and Lisi Phillips return to the Championship after a mixed Adelaide Hills Rally in September, with the popular Nissan Silvia of Trevor Stilling joining the Coffs party with co-driver Larisa Biggar calling the notes.
There are also a number of New South Welsh names making up the ARC entry list with Scott Schubert and Dennis Neagle, James and Jane Collits, Lindsay Collits and Brad Dawson, Dean Ridge and Hugh Taylor, and Michael Heauchan with Tara McIlroy joining the national campaign.
Rounding out the entry list from further down the border are Victorians Jason Lennane and Amanda Ramia as well as Tony Moore and Troy Hutchins.
The ARC is part of a grand total of 88 crews competing across the whole weekend, with the WRC the main attraction as the world’s best head to the beachside area of the Coffs Coast.
Forming part of the 26-car WRC entry list is 2019 champion Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, while six time champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be battling Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul for second place.
Martin Grigg and Rachel Messer is another Australian crew joining Bates and McCarthy in the WRC field, competing in a Ford Fiesta R5.
In the other domestic competitions, Chris Higgs and Daymon Nicol lead an 11-field Rally Australia Cup, while Peter Dunn and Peter Helwig headline the Rally Australia two-day event, which boasts the biggest field of the whole event with 31 crews competing.
Clerk of Course Wayne Kenny was thrilled with the packed entry list lauding the interest of Australian competitors.
“This is a fantastic entry list – the best we can remember since at least the time the rally moved to New South Wales from Western Australia after 2006,” Kenny said.
“We have 12 World Rally Cars – the fastest cars in the history of the sport – and a cracking line-up of Australian competitors to keep the fans on the special stages entertained all day.
“We’re especially pleased to have so many Australian competitors, from championship contenders to those in the Subaru RS Challenge and Northern Hyundai Rally Challenge budget classes – a sign the sport in this country is in terrific health. The Two-Day event has drawn 31 entries, the most of all.
“Rallying is a sport that almost anyone can enter as long as they have an eligible car and it seems many competitors have taken this opportunity to complete a bucket-list item in their careers, to compete in a world championship event on the same roads as the greatest drivers in the sport today.”
Kennards Hire Rally Australia takes place around the forests of Coffs Harbour on 15–17 November.