The entry list has been set with another strong field confirmed for the event, with the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) going from strength-to-strength.
More than 50 crews from around the country will contest the Victorian event, 30 of which are entered in the ARC component of the rally.
Headlining the 54-crew field are current ARC leaders Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin, and their teammates Harry Bates and Coral Taylor, who are coming off their first win in more than a year.
While the two Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia stars will be contending for the outright win, they will be facing fierce competition from one the strongest entry lists seen this season.
Leading that charge is Make Smoking History Forest Rally winners Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith in their Winpart Group backed Hyundai i20 G4, and the returning Scott Pedder, who will be behind the wheel of a Skoda Fabia R5 alongside Glenn Macneall.
Pedder and Macneall are one of a few crews running a Skoda, with Maguire Motorsport’s Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey looking to build on their runner-up finish at the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland in their new Skoda, while Realty Lane’s Daniel Gonzalez and Daymon Nicoli will be wanting to bounce back after difficult run in Queensland.
Joining Gonzalez and Nicoli from West Australia are the two IntelliSpatial Fleetcare Racing Hyundai i20 Rally 2 cars of Peter and Alex Rullo and their co-drivers James Marquet and Ben Searcy, as well as the all-woman team of ARC debutant Kelly Thomas and Stephanie Esterbauer.
As usual, there will be a decent cohort of Toyotas in the field, with Luff Motorsport’s Jamie and Bradley Luff continuing their impressive season in the Yaris AP4, while James Dimmock will be making his first appearance in the ARC since the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston alongside Larisa Biggar.
Ford will also have strong representation in Gippsland with AGI Rallysport’s Luke Anear and Malcolm Read, and Activ Rallysport’s Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb leading the way in the Ford Fiesta MK2’s, while Dowel’s decorated father Justin will be driving Proto Cars Mitsubishi Mirage G4 alongside Tracey Dewhurst.
Other high profile entries running top spec Fiestas include IKON Signs’ Dean Ridge and Muireann Hayes, as well as Penang Mulang’s Gandewa Sanders and Rhianon Gelsomino, who are entered in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
Headlining the Production Cup though will be two Tasmanian crews with Steve Maguire and Carver Mechanical/Bridgestone Huonville’s Bodie Reading and Mark Young to continue their season-long battle in their Mitsubishi and Subarus.
Competing in the ARC Production Cup alongside the two Tasmanians and Sanders are a trio of familiar ARC names, including Victory’s Nathan Stokes and Ian Wheeler returning in their Subaru WRX after a tough run in Gympie.
Hayes Tractor Implements’ Ben and Cathy Hayes will contest their home rally in both the Production Cup and the ARC 2WD Cup behind the wheel of their Subaru BRZ, as will Queenslanders Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid, who have also entered their KMC Frostys Garage’s Ford Fiesta in the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup.
The ARC Classic Cup also sees the return of its three regular crews with the father-son duo of David Thompson and Matthew Sanders and Ivan Thompson and Nathan Quartermain up against Forthluck Premium Gin NZ’s Ian Griffin and Gregory Hilton.
Rounding out the ARC entry list are half a dozen Motorsport Australia Victorian Rally Championship (VRC) crews, who despite entering in the national component of the event, are not registered for championship points.
Those crews are Brad Till and Mitch Garrad, Nicholas Seymour and Matthew Whitten, Brendan and Richard Hood, Daniel Traverso, Paul Lahiff and Matthew Kirby, and Christopher Fitzgerald and Ashley Ewers.
Notable names entered solely in the 24-crew VRC field include Brendan Reeves and Peter Schey, who has Christopher Schey calling the notes.
With more crews running the national component event compared to state for the first time this year, Clerk of Course Andrew Roseman was thrilled with the increased interest in the event.
“We are absolutely stoked with this year’s entry list as it’s one of the biggest that we have had in a long time – certainly the biggest in my time associated with this rally,” Roseman said.
“But I think what’s the most impressive is the quality of the field entered, with such an array of top-spec cars entered and big names to drive them – it’s really exciting
“The ARC has grown significantly in the past couple of years, and it’s great that we can be an integral part of it.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the best crews in Australia once again and we can’t wait to put on a show once again.”
The rally will kick off at the Port of Sale on Friday 25 August with the Rally Show at 4pm before the action officially takes place in the forests near Heyfield, Briagolong and Stockdale.
Written by Motorsport Australia