The Rally of the Bay is set to roll into town on Saturday, August 11 with a slightly different flavour.
The rally has been a cornerstone leg on the NSW Rally Championship since the 1970s, but this year it also serves as a round of the Victorian Rally Championship.
Jon Thomson, a spokesperson for the event, said it was an easy decision to make.
“The NSW Rally panel put together a sharing agreement this year,” he said. “People are far more willing to travel these days, and we have a quality event up here.”
The initiative will add between 10 and 12 cars to the event, and organisers are expecting more than 70 cars on the final start list.
“We’ve got the potential of two of the latest World Rally Championship-2 cars,” Mr Thomson said. “That should be a couple of Skoda R5s driven by Richie Dalton and Adrian Coppin.
“There’s also the potential for Harry and Lewis Bates to contest the rally in a Toyota Yaris AP4 and Toyota Corolla respectively.
“The rally will also incorporate the East Coast Classic Championships series, so there’s probably another 15 or 16 cars contesting that.”
The rally will kick off with a ceremonial start on Clyde Street at 8.30am, where spectators will have the chance to see the cars, and get autographs from the drivers. Spectator instructions will also be available.
The rally will then run for nine stages: four in morning, four in the afternoon, and one in the evening.
In between the sets of stages, Corrigans Beach Reserve will be used as a service park, where cars will return for running repairs.
Nelligen’s Nick Sandilands will race in the rally with Moruya’s James Price.
“We’ve been working together for the past five years, and I did my first rally with James in Bega last year,” Sandilands said.
Sandilands is the co-driver in the car, meaning he has the important job of giving the driver instructions while the race is happening.
“We’re given a road book at the start of the day, and that gives you obstacles with an intermediate distance in between them,” he said. “We’re not given any practice either, so you’ve just got to figure out where you are on the track on the fly.
“You’ve really got to be on your A-game.”
Peter Thompson, from Moruya Heads, will drive in the rally with Ken Hind.
“We do as many rallies as we can, and we really enjoy it,” he said. “I’ve been driving with Ken for about 10 years, so we’ve got a really good rapport.”
Thompson said drivers need to trust their co-drivers to be successful, especially considering the roads look completely different under race conditions.
“He makes the call, and if you’re doing it properly, you steer to his calls even when you can’t see where the road is going,” he said. “When you drive them at normal speeds, they look nothing like when you drive them at rally speeds.
“I’ve done a couple of rallies down here, and I drive the stages afterwards, and they’re completely different.”
Thompson said the thrill of the rally kept him coming back.
“I love the whole concept of getting on a road and driving as fast as you can, and that’s quite often not as fast as other can drive,” he said. “You’re always amazed at how quick they can do it.
“The camaraderie of a rally is fantastic as well. No matter how good the guys are up front, they’re always willing to help out the guys down back.
“It’s a great sport.”