The FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) will take centre stage in Coffs Harbour this weekend as two Championships come to a dramatic close at the Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally.
With six crews taking part in the regional APRC final, there is plenty to play for with 198 competitive kilometres over the course of the full 14-stage making up the busy schedule.
Headlining the entry list is FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Hayden Paddon, who will be alongside fellow countryman John Kennard for the finale.
A full charge of five Australian finalists will be up against the New Zealand star, with RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) title contenders Lewis Bates, Harry Bates and Richie Dalton all in the mix to become the region’s champion.
While all three crews will also have their minds preoccupied with the exciting ARC battle for the title, the two other entered crews in the APRC finale will be looking to cause an upset.
Enjoying a breakout debut year is Realty Lane’s Daniel Gonzalez and co-driver Daymon Nicoli, who continue to improve their performances in their Skoda Fabia R5 week-on-week.
The final name on the APRC entry list is Luke Anear, who has had a busy year competing in events all around the world, including five WRC rounds across three continents.
Behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Rally2, Anear has competed at WRC rounds in Italy, Estonia, New Zealand, Spain and Japan, as well as in Austria for the European Rally Championship.
Now, in what will be his first event on home soil since April’s Netier National Capital Rally, Anear was looking forward to competing back in Australia.
“It feels really good to get back and compete on home soil – especially since it’s been a long time and even longer since I was at Coffs,” Anear said.
“The last time was in Coffs was back in 2018 and I remember it being such an awesome place, even if it was very wet.
“This year, there will be some tough competition with Hayden coming over, as well as Harry and Lewis being up the top. I am sure there will be interesting strategies at play, so let’s see what happens.
“I actually quite like the whole ‘everything on the line’ format (of the APRC) and the fact that you can win the (APRC) championship this weekend. It’s a great incentive for people to push as hard as they can for a really good result and that’s going to put pressure on everyone.
“It’s been a really busy year and it would be nice to finally win something on gravel. I have been competing against full time category drivers and young stars of Europe this year, and I am hoping that could help me.
“I am sure the international experience will help and doing them close together will have a major benefit too because more seat time helps translate into results.
“With that said, I still need to take one corner at a time because you never know what’s going to happen.”
There will be plenty of opportunities for fans to watch the cars up close, including at Rally Central or at the spectator points.
Saturday afternoon’s Super Special Stage and Sunday’s EROAD Power Stage will be live broadcast via 7plus, while interviews and highlights will be released throughout the event on the ARC and Coffs Coast’s social media channels.
For spectator information and to register for free tickets, head to www.rally.com.au/coffscoast.
The Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally takes place in and around the forests of Coffs Harbour on 25-27 November.
Feature Photo: Daniel Kalisz