The first ARC Gippsland Rally

The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally has been successfully run, with many smiling faces. Based in Heyfield, competitors and spectators went through the townships of Cowwarr, Glenmaggie, Newry, Tinamba, Maffra and Briagolong.

Gippsland Rally ran last December as a round of the Victorian Rally Championship and this year was the first time it has run as a round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC). It was a welcome return of the ARC to Victoria since 2019 and the first time in this area – The Middle of Everywhere.

Locals were spotted standing on roadsides to see the cars pass and wave to them on liaison routes on the way to the competitive stages. At the spectator points, large crowds included rally and motorsport enthusiasts, and people making this their first rally experience.

The event was promoted throughout the Shire of Wellington and beyond. Promotions from Bairnsdale to Geelong were running in the two weeks before the rally with 1,334 tickets claimed online that indicates a huge number people were interested in the rally.

The event had a positive impact to local communities with accommodation being the highest demand. Basic needs such as fuel and meals was another way the local community benefitted, let alone the party atmosphere at The Railway Hotel in Heyfield on Saturday night.

The competition itself was fierce and proved just how unpredictable this form of motorsport is. There were unexpected mechanical failures on two of the predicted top three, impressive top-two times being set by the unexpected (Scott Pedder and Taylor Gill) only to fall victim of mechanical failure, and consistency rewarding two (Max McRae and Troy Dowel) of the youngest drivers – on P plates! – finishing 2nd and 3rd place. The top three places was occupied by drivers who hadn’t stood on the podium in an ARC.

“It was fantastic to have been able to host this event here in The Middle of Everywhere.  Our towns were just buzzing with competitors, spectators and officials across the whole weekend.

So many people who were involved commented about what a great region we have, how awesome our roads were for rallying and what a great destination it is for hosting events such as The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally.

We’ve really enjoyed working with the event organising team and look forward to continuing this relationship into the future”, Wellington Shire Council Mayor Cr Ian Bye enthused.

Ashley Smirl and Cr Ian Bye smile in delight after having a ride in a rally car
The Middle of Everywhere’s Ashley Smirl and Wellington Shire Council Mayor Cr Ian Bye were amazed by the level of commitment made by the rally community.

“It was certainly action packed weekend of rallying with 53 crews tackling the stages. Glorious weather allowed our crews to put a grand spectacle in the forest for all the spectators and fans.

We certainly love the hospitality and enthusiasm that we have received from the people of Heyfield and the surrounding towns, and of course the amazing support from Wellington Shire in bringing the event to the region”, a delighted Event Director Andrew Roseman said.

As with any major event, planning for next year is already in progress. The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally team is working with its stakeholders on improvements to make the event even better.

Author: Michael Finger

Hi, I’m Michael and I’m a freelance photojournalist. I live in Montmorency, in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne and I offer a range of photography services to help you achieve the results you’re after.