Australian Rally Championship http://www.rally.com.au ----------------------------------------------------------- Entries for the third round of the Australian Rally Championship have now closed, and the cream of the country's rally drivers are...
Australian Rally Championship http://www.rally.com.au -----------------------------------------------------------
Entries for the third round of the Australian Rally Championship have now closed, and the cream of the country's rally drivers are confirmed starters for the 1999 Respect Yourself Forest Rally in Perth on June 25-27.
Heading the list is 1998 Australian Rally Champion Possum Bourne. Bourne won last year's Respect Yourself Forest Rally and, as top seed, his factory-backed Subaru Impreza World Rally Car will be the first car flagged away from the rally's gala free-to-public start in Forrest Place at 8.00pm on Friday 25 June.
Second car down the ramp in the packed shopping precinct will be the Toyota Corolla World Rally Car of former Champ and four-time Forest winner Neil Bates. Bates and Bourne are arch rivals for the Championship title and, with scant points between them, the Respect Yourself Forest Rally will play a crucial role in determining which driver takes the ARC crown.
Third man away will be Ed Ordynski. While Bates and Bourne drive highly modified WRCs (World Rally Car), the South Australian will be at the helm of a near standard Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V.
Ordynski has often demonstrated that sheer talent can more than make up for a lack of horsepower and his presence at the Forest Rally is expected to keep Bates and Bourne under pressure. Keeping Ordynski under pressure, however, will be Victorian Cody Crocker in his factory-backed Group N Subaru Impreza WRX and Queenslander Stewart Reid in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI.
Many of the 18 interstate drivers crossing the Nullabor for the Respect Yourself Forest Rally have been here before, but two cars that are entirely new to the forests of Mundaring are the Volkswagen Motor Sport Australia-entered VW Golf's of Victorians Simon Evans and Jason Slot.
The two VWs are favourites for the F2 (Formula 2 front-wheel-drive) category at the Forest, but they'll be given a run for their money by the diminutive Daihatsu Charade of Rick Bates ... Neal Bates' almost identical twin brother.
Rick Bates and his tiny red Daihatsu make a fearsome combination in the forests, but the other end of rallying's size scale -- the Aussie Cars -- make an even more fearsome spectacle. Fishtailing through the forests of Mundaring on Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26, will be the Ford Falcons of Victoria's Andrew Murdoch and South Australia's Steve Winwood. And keeping the Ford versus Holden rivalry going is local lad Hugh Letessier in a Holden Commodore.
With a total of 73 entrants there'll be plenty to see at this year's Respect Yourself Forest Rally. The first opportunity to get close to the action will come from noon onwards on Friday 25 June when the rally starts to assemble in Forrest Place (the heart of Perth's shopping precinct) ready for the 8.00pm start.
On Saturday 26 June the rally will head into the hills around Mundaring to the east of the city for the first of 15 stages and some 190 kilometres of competitive rallying.
Mundaring Airstrip (off Mundaring Weir Road) is the place to be in the morning. For the first time in the Forest Rally's long history, competitors will actually run on the roads around the airstrip giving spectators the chance to see just what sort of speeds and acceleration modern rally cars are capable of. Spectator points will cover two stages and, with the cars running in reverse order on the opening 'Healthway' stage, there'll be action aplenty from 9.00am 'til 2.00pm.
Saturday afternoon will see the rally continue with all-new spectator stages at Bartons Mill off the Pickering Brook Road. Action starts around 5.15pm and will go on into the dark as the last cars through finish the stage. In the meantime the leading cars will head off to the nearby Kalamunda Shopping Centre for a special two-hour service park. Like the Forrest Place start, the service park is free to the public and all are welcome.
On Sunday 26 June the rally returns to the forests with the day's spectating kicking off at Mundaring Airstrip from 9.45am onwards and heading over to Bartons Mill for the closing stages of the event. The leading cars are expected to come through the Bartons Mill spectator point around 12.20pm, and with tensions running high as competitors make a last-ditch effort to pull back a few vital seconds, the crowd is assured of some first-class rally action.
Victors, vanquished and spectators alike will then make their way back to rally headquarters at the Novotel Vines Resort in the picturesque Swan Valley for the official finish and free-to-public celebrations which will include a pipe band, food and wine-tasting, and family entertainment.
The complete entry list is now available on www.rally.com.au