The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) makes its long-awaited return to Victoria this weekend with The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally to serve as the fifth round of the 2022 season.
It’s been quite some time since the ARC last visited Victorian and even longer since it made its way out east to the picturesque roads of the Gippsland and Heyfield region.
Awaiting crews is 169 competitive kilometres across 13 stages and with the event to run as an Endurance Rally, there is no room for error as any mistake can end a crew’s rally.
Starting with a massive day on Saturday for the event’s 53 State and National entered crews, 120 competitive kilometres on eight stages make up the schedule, while Sunday’s five stages sees just the ARC competitors tackle the remaining 47 kilometres, including the EROAD Power Stage.
With the event welcoming both the nation’s best rally crews and the Hill Tino Motorsport Australia Victorian Rally Championship (VRC), the entry list’s impressive talent pool runs deep.
Headlined by the reigning ARC Champions, Harry Bates and John McCarthy, there will be plenty of crews in the 22 ARC-registered entry list capable of knocking off the leaders – the two with the best chance being Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton.
Edging ever so closer towards the top and hoping for a big round in Victoria are the competition’s young guns in Max McRae, Troy Dowell and Taylor Gill, while another youngster in Ryan Williams will have his hands full in a super competitive Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup.
Joining the Queenslander in 2WD will be regular rivals in Dean Ridge and Aidan Peterson, although Scott Pedder’s grand return to the ARC and the return of 2022 Netier National Capital Rally 2WD Cup winner, Guy Tyler, will certainly make this one of the most entertaining battles.
Having not been at an ARC round since Canberra, Tyler was looking forward to his return and believed that co-drivers were the most important aspect of the event.
“I don’t have too much experience in Victoria with the last national round I did in that state was back in 2014 for Rally Victoria,” Tyler said.
“Victorian rallies are very hard to remember, which is a challenge in itself, but the fact that it’s the first time the ARC has run in this particular location, pace noting will be extra important and crucial to a good result.
“In fact, I think the event is going to be won or lost with the co-drivers.
“The roads look really smooth and very tough to drive though, so I am not sure if they will suit our Mitsubishi Magna, but I am still really looking forward to getting out there and going up against a very competitive 2WD field.
“It should be a fantastic event as a lot of the guys have not done this course and I am quietly confident a top 10 is achievable – especially if the front runners have any issues.”
Tyler won’t be the only one making his first ARC appearance since Canberra, with podium placer Brendan Reeves to compete in the Classic Cup behind the wheel of his trusty Datsun P510.
Other notable names entered in the event is young gun Jamie Luff, Irishmen Cahal Carey and Ronald Bustard and first year rookies Daniel Gonzalez and Molly Spalding – the latter of which joins the Glendun ARC Junior Cup.
There will be plenty of opportunities for fans to see the crews taking on the impressive roads of Gippsland with five spectator points offering brilliant views on the action.
The Heyfield Service Park will also allow fans and the local public the chance to see cars up close and crews working on the cars during the designated service breaks.
A meet and greet is also scheduled for Friday afternoon leading into the rally, where fans can meet the stars of the ARC.
Fans unable to make it to Victoria can keep up to date with all the results and updates throughout the weekend through the ARC website and social channels.
The EROAD Power Stage will be shown live and free via 7plus at 2pm AEST on Sunday, while the extended highlights show will be aired on 7plus and 7mate shortly after the event.
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally takes place in the Heyfield Region on 26-28 August.