Rally returns to Lakes

Rally returns to Lakes

Once again a round of the Australian Tarmac Rally Championship is to be held in East Gippsland.

The Snowy River Sprint will run over the weekend of September 21 and 22. Based in the iconic holiday destination of Lake Entrance, this multi-staged rally is run on the mountain roads behind Buchan and includes two 38km stages, among the longest and most challenging anywhere. The event attracts some of the best cars, drivers and co-drivers in Australia.

This year, Mountain Motor Sports, the promoter of the AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Championship, is pleased to announce a new partnership with Beat the Heat. The distinctive, high performance vehicles of Beat the Heat will be the course cars for the series. Beat the Heat members are volunteers, who are all employed within the Victorian Emergency Services sector.

The not-for-profit group, promotes legal off-street drag racing as a circuit breaker for at risk kids.

“This is the beginning of an exciting new relationship,” Peter Washington, of Mountain Motorsports, said. Snowy River is the first event of the 2019/20 championship. Defending, three-time Australian Tarmac Rally Champion, Tim Hendy, will miss Snowy River due to other driving commitments. Targa legend and past Australian Tarmac Rally Champion, Craig Dean in a Shelby GT Mustang, will take full advantage of his absence.

In the classic competition, the Escort of Keith and Alex Morling, who conceded back-to-back championships last season to the BMW of Gluskie Winter Motor Sport, are coming to Snowy River, determined to reclaim the classic competition title. In super sport, the reigning tarmac champions, Mark and Lacy Biggs, in a WRX, will be looking for a good start to the season.

The fast roads around Buchan have proven to be a haven for the big American muscle cars, with the Shelby Mustangs, Vipers and Corvettes, testing the nimbler Lotus and Porsches. If it rains however, the older four-wheel drive rally cars, the Mitsubishi Evo and WRX, will come into their own.

East Gippsland Shire Council mayor, Cr Natalie O’Connell, said with the AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Championship in September, and the Alpine Rally in November, both based in and around Lakes Entrance, more than half a million dollars will be injected into the local economy through tourism, accommodation bookings, cafes and restaurants.

“Council is pleased to sponsor these events which bring great economic benefit to East Gippsland and the audience includes visitors from around Victoria, interstate and internationally,” Cr O’Connell said.

“It also will highlight some of the attractions our region is renowned for, like fishing, boating, our beaches, walks, surfing, and the famous Buchan Caves.

“Each year motor sport contributes $2.7 billion to the Australian economy and we look forward to welcoming the rally crews to our region.”

Unlike the Alpine Rally in November, with its designated spectator points, the Tarmac Rally Championship, because of the speeds, doesn’t encourage spectators in the special stages. However, the lunch break on Saturday, September 21, 2019, is held in the main street of Buchan. Vehicles are on display and competitors enjoy chatting to the visitors and locals.

Unique to Tarmac Rallying is the ‘Tour’. This is where ordinary people can drive their ‘Pride and Joy’ on the special stages being used by the AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Championship crews. They are part of all the activities surrounding the Championship. A speed limit of 130km applies and there are a number of other safety requirements.