Tasmania has again turned it on for the hugely popular Inveresk Super Special Stage, with more than 6,000 watching the opening to this year’s Subaru Rally Tasmania.
It was Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy who were quickest on the night, but the true winners were the locals who enjoyed a feast of rally action on the 820m tarmac stage under lights.
The crowd, which was about 1,000 larger than 2018’s attendance, got to witness almost 30 drivers showcase their skills, with very different approaches to the tight and twisty stage.
Bates was pleased to take the early lead into Saturday’s action, but like all of his fellow competitors was once again impressed by Launceston’s support of the event.
“It was lots of fun, it’s nice to come here and put on a show for the thousands of spectators who came to watch us,” Harry Bates said.
Second fastest in the Ford Fiesta G4, Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt were equally as delighted to perform in front of thousands of rally fans.
“It’s a fantastic crowd – it’s been really well supported here tonight and hopefully we’ll have the same over the weekend with the crowds and we can put on a show,” Dalton said.
It was an ominous start for four-time CAMS Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans, competing in his first rally after recently focussing on his off road and SXS exploits. He finished third quickest in the Subaru WRX STi.
Evans, who this weekend sits alongside co-driver Bernie Webb, said he was impressed on all fronts.
“This is where I cut my teeth and it’s just good to be back out there,” Evans said.
“It’s great to be in a Les Walkden prepared rally car. This car is just unbelievable – it’s so easy to drive and I was able to put on a bit of a show in front of a huge Launceston crowd.”
Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read finished in fourth.
Taylor said the atmosphere and support for Subaru make this event a special one for the manufacturer.
“It’s always felt like a bit of a home rally for me, although I’m not from Tassie, our team is based down here so I spend a lot of time down here and it’s such good rally country,” Taylor said.
“The atmosphere has just been wild. It’s so good to just see everyone come out and support us.”
Standings after Inveresk Super Special Stage: