A NIGHT stage in the bush and three new opening-day speed tests that organisers rate the best yet form part of a new look Coates Hire Rally Australia route.
The new stages of Utungun, Bakers Creek and Northbank, south of the event’s Coffs Harbour base, open the action at the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship on Friday morning and will be repeated in the afternoon.
“They are fast, technical, set in magnificent countryside and truly some of the best roads in the rally world,” said Clerk of Course Adrian Stafford.
The stages are split between the Coffs Coast State forests and open farmland, with many of the country shire roads lined by trees that leave no margin for error.
After Thursday evening’s Coffs Harbour ceremonial start, two passes through the mostly familiar Newry Long test add to the new roads to complete Friday’s 125.12km of competition.
Saturday features two passes through the marathon 50.80km Nambucca, one of the longest and most difficult stages of the season.
The 7.94km Valla is also driven twice, the second occasion in darkness, to complete the longest day of the event. The first pass will be screened live on global TV.
Five more tests north of Coffs Harbour on Sunday complete the itinerary, including two more live TV stages in Wedding Bells. The second pass forms the Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers.
The 17 stages cover 311.36km in a route of 1023.70km.