The 2018 Bega Valley Rally will run stronger than the year it finished almost a decade ago.
President of the Sapphire Coast Sporting Car Club Kim Boyd said entries closed Monday night and the numbers were in.
“We had 61 drivers the year it was called off. We would love to see it get back to that.
“We don’t need it to become a WRC stage, but would like to see it progress to a similar level as the Alpine Rally in Victoria.”
The final tally of Tuesday morning lists 67 driver-navigator combinations, including the standing Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn and the current NSW Rally Champion, Bryan Van Eck.
Last year’s win in former Bega driver Ben Barker is also back on deck with fellow driver Beau Griggs in the passenger seat.
Mr Boyd said there were also other local combinations in the running, including about three husband and wife teams.
Mr Boyd, who will race alongside his wife joked with a laugh that it would be the stereotypical “women telling us where to go thing”.
It’s something of a coup for organisers to lure Australia’s biggest names as well as strong local pairings to the historic event – and also a leap on last year’s roster of 40 drivers.
Mr Quinn said he had signed up in about 2016 when the Rally was washed out, but had heard good things.
“This is a truly iconic event and I can’t wait to take it on, I’m really keen to come along and experience some of these Shire Roads I keep hearing about,” he said.
The Shire stages have proved to be a favourite with fans, who were eager to see stages back in Bega, but also with the drivers themselves.
“We’ve got four Shire Roads this year because that’s what the rally drivers love, it’s a favourite for them; open sweeping roads through beautiful countryside,” Mr Boyd said.
The Rally had run exclusively on Forest Roads south of Eden in both 2007 and 2008, but last year featured two stages in Bega and one further south on the way to the Seahorse Inn staging area at Boydtown.
Much like last year, fans will get a chance to see the dirt-racing action at a number of spectator points, but also get the chance to meet some of the teams and drivers at the Bega Showground as a parade area on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the cars will be gathered at the Seahorse Inn at Boydtown as a key service area for Sunday’s leg of racing.
Stages will run on Saturday and Sunday with spectator guides available online or at the Bega Showground Saturday. “We again want to thank the foresight of the Bega Valley Shire and the assistance of NSW Police in giving us permission to run this iconic rally,” Mr Boyd said.
You can download the spectator guide here – or grab a copy at the Bega Showground on Saturday.
Eden will have the lion’s share of spectator access to the competition stages with both Ireland-Timms Road and Burrawang Road having accessible spectator points during three of the stages.
Mr Boyd said the cars would also be in an out of the Seahorse Inn staging ground across the morning on Sunday.
Unfortunately there are no official spectator points during the Bega stages as Mr Boyd said there were safety concerns and it was a logistic nightmare to allow areas for spectators.
However, friends and family will be able to watch from private property along the roads, but you would need permission from owners to park and spectate from within their fence-lines.
*The map for spectator point five is indicative of the reverse stage and cars will be coming from the Right side into a left-hand corner.