Finalists Ready for Junior Challenge Final

The six finalists in this year's Australian Rallysport News Junior Rally Challenge are ready and raring to go for the Grand Final, to be contested this weekend at the Saxon Safari Tasmania. With a prize package valued at over $16,000 on offer,...

The six finalists in this year's Australian Rallysport News Junior Rally Challenge are ready and raring to go for the Grand Final, to be contested this weekend at the Saxon Safari Tasmania.

With a prize package valued at over $16,000 on offer, the ARN Junior Rally Challenge is the most lucrative series in Australian rallying, and as a result competition between the six state finalists will be fierce.

The Grand Final will be held over the two Heats of the Saxon Safari, with the driver scoring the most points from the two Heats being declared the 1999 Champion.

Network 10 will feature the final of the ARN Junior Rally Challenge during their Sunday afternoon coverage of the event.

The ARN Junior Rally Challenge is open to drivers 25 years of age and under, in two-wheel drive, normally aspirated cars of 2-litres or under.

This year's finalists are:

SOUTH AUSTRALIA SAM BRAND - TOYOTA COROLLA FX GT Two victories and a second place from the three qualifying rounds in South Australia gave Sam Brand and easy 16 point win over Jason Gordon. Brand ventured to the Rally of Melbourne for experience, but crashed on the first day - thanks mainly to suspension that was too hard. Will find it tough to win, given that his experience of tight forestry stages is limited - there aren¹t many forests in SA, you see!

QUEENSLAND JASON WALK - 1971 TOYOTA COROLLA Walk won the first two Queensland events, but destroyed his car in a Rally Queensland accident. He won the state section by five points from Gavin Mosher, but has been forced to build a new car for the final. The oldest car of the finalists, the Corolla is the real darkhorse with a powerful 1900cc motor. A real chance for victory.

VICTORIA ANDREW PANNAM - NISSAN SUNNY GTI Pannam has a brand new car for this event, which was finished literally days before the final. His new Nissan Sunny GTi has been built by Evans Motorsport, so it should be quick out of the blocks. Determination and enthusiasm gave Pannam victory in the Victorian component, and despite the final being only his second event in a front-wheel drive car, the smooth Tassie roads should suit him well. While the Datsun 1600 he used earlier in the year has been pensioned off, he¹s still confident of a good result.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA BEVAN PHILLIPS - HYUNDAI EXCEL Phillips would probably rank as the most experienced driver in the field, having contested Rally Australia last year in his diminutive Hyundai, winning his class. The Excel is not a popular rally car in Australia, but Phillips has made it go exceptionally fast this year, particularly in wet and slippery conditions. The car¹s lack of power and good gearing could be its only downfall.

NEW SOUTH WALES GAVIN CROKER - DATSUN 180B Croker was the pacesetter in NSW for the entire 1999 season, but exclusion from the final round at Bega for using an illegal engine put his finals aspirations in doubt. But Croker believes his ageing Datsun 180B will produce even more power in the final, and thinks the reliability of his car could be a bonus. His downfall could be a lack of pacenoting experience, but despite this, he should be considered one of the favourites.

TASMANIA DAMIAN TUNKS - TOYOTA COROLLA RV Tunks got the easy ride into the final, as the only Tasmanian entry in this year¹s ARN Junior Rally Challenge. But despite this, his local knowledge may prove valuable on home soil. The Group N Corolla is unlikely to be the fastest car among the finalists, but the 20 year old should do well just the same.

Australian Rally Championship http://www.rally.com.au

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