(Event news, 28/8/2013) FOUR-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates and Coral Taylor will start favourites in the Australian Classic Rally Challenge round at Coates Hire Rally Australia.
Regarded as the most formidable duo in Australian classic rallying, Bates and Taylor will drive their 1980 Toyota Celica RA40 World Rally Car replica.
The Celica has been the car to beat in classic events around the country and in New Zealand, Bates and Taylor winning the classic Otago Rally in March on their first attempt.
But some of Australia’s best classic rally cars have been entered for the event and Bates will have to battle for any result.
Queenslander driver John Spencer will run a Nissan 240 RS coupe that won the New Zealand Rally championship in 1984. Crewing a Mitsubishi Lancer, Spencer and fellow Queenslander John Goasdoue were the first Australians home in the WRC field of the 2011 Rally Australia event.
Former Australian Rally Championship front-runner Ryan Smart will compete in his Datsun 180B SSS. He proved at the recent International Rally of Queensland, that he could set times close to Bates.
Tarmac expert and Targa Tasmania winner Tony Quinn will take to the dirt stages in an Escort RS 1800, forsaking his normal Nissan R35 GT-R tarmac mount.
Coffs Harbour local Mal Keogh cannot be discounted, either. He’s got local knowledge and his Datsun 1600 is well suited to the Coffs Harbour shire roads.
Long-distance Rally expert Keith Callinan will drive his Holden Monaro, another car well suited to the high-speed shire stages that the Coffs Harbour event offers.
Fellow local Troy O’Doherty and Matt Ruggles will pilot their thundering TR7 V8s. These cars are sure to impress the many thousands of spectators.
The range of other classic models set to compete includes Ford Escorts, Alfa Romeo, Nissan Bluebird, Toyota Corolla and even a Mini Cooper S.
By special invitation, two iconic cars from the infamous “too fast to race” Group B era will be seen in action art selected times and locations. Dave Thompson and Stewart Reid will showcase an Audi quattro S1 replica, recently acquired from New Zealand and also a genuine works MG Metro 6R4, the very same car driven by Tony Pond in the UK and resplendent in the original Rothmans colours of the day.
These two cars have never been seen in Australia before and, indeed, Group B Rally cars have never been seen in demonstration runs at an Australian world championship event. These cars have over 600 hp and will put on a stunning display for everyone to enjoy.
Alongside them on display at the Rally Hub are expected to be a Lancia Monte Carlo 037 and Ford RS200.
The Classic round at Rally Australia will showcase cars from what is known as a golden age of rallying in Australia, when the region was made famous during the Southern Cross International Rallies of the late 70s.
Once again drivers from all over the world will come to compete in Coffs Harbour, this time they are in the latest cars in a world championship event.