The 2020 Motorsport Australia Tasmanian Rally Championship gets underway this weekend, with the CJR Enterprises Hellyer Sprint Rally to open the three-round championship.
A number of the state’s top rally drivers will feature as part of the championship’s season opener, which will see 24 entered crews undergo 70 competitive kilometres through the Rocky Cape.
The entry list makes for interesting reading with 17 crews vying for championship points, seven of which have been state champions in the past and boast an impressive 11 titles between them – the most decorated being Jamie Vandenburg, who won a hat-trick of titles from 2003–2005.
Joining Vandenburg in the round will be the championship’s previous six winning drivers including last year’s champion Tim Auty, Eddie Maguire (2017), Keith Abblitt (2016), Marcus Walkem (2013–2014), and Craig Brooks (2008 and 2015).
In recent years Brooks has been involved as a driver and team principal in the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC).
In 2018, Brooks’ Orange Motorsport Engineering prepared Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis to finish runner-up in the ARC, before becoming the factory Subaru squad with 2016 ARC champion Molly Taylor, who finished third in last year’s national championship.
Now making his return back to the driver’s seat, Brooks is both excited and nervous to get back out there again.
“I am pretty excited to get into the rally car this weekend. I haven’t been behind the wheel for two and half years now, so I am really keen,” Brooks said.
“We did a test day a few weeks ago with the intention to blow off some of the cobwebs. I still feel like there is still a little way to go, but getting an event under our belt will certainly work a long way fixing that.
“I am feeling a little rusty, so the goal for this weekend is to get to the finish and have a clean run. It would be great if I was somewhere towards the top end of the field though.
“I am also really looking forward to catching up with the other competitors. The competition is full of friends and the camaraderie between everyone is excellent. We’re really looking forward to getting out into the bush with our friends, and enjoying some series competition.
“There is no doubt that the exceptional work of the North West Car Club has been key in putting this together. Without their hard work, this event simply wouldn’t have got off the ground. They are doing their best to jump through all of the requirements to make sure it can happen safely, and I congratulate them.”
Young star and 2018 Tasmanian Champion Bodie Reading is another driver looking to continue his rise up the ranks and secure top results.
However like Brooks, Reading has had a lack of seat time in 2020 and is excited to get behind the wheel again. However the 23-year-old believes this year will be more about development.
“Really excited because it’s the first event in almost 11 months. I am going to be pretty rusty, I guess, but we will see how I go,” Reading said.
“The main goal of the weekend will just be to get through every stage. I have made lots of changes to the car including some new suspension, so I need to get used to that. I’ll probably spend the first few stages getting used to the car and once I feel comfortable, I will really push and see how I go.
“I don’t think I will be in the running for the title this year because there are just three rounds. I will be using this season as a development year, and then go for a full title tilt in 2021.”
The CJR Enterprises Hellyer Sprint Rally takes place in the Rocky Cape on Saturday 5 September.