Rally is here to stay

Russel Winks slides his Holden Commodore into a corner during Saturday’s rally at Bondo.

THE return of rally cars to the back-roads of Tumut has been welcomed by enthusiasts and participants alike with the success of last weekend’s Shell Racing Solutions Stages race, securing the future of rallies in the shire.

Rally cars have not broad-sided and revved around the Bondo area for over a decade with organisers spending the past seven years trying to get the cars back onto the local roads.

The event was held by the Brindabella Motor Sport Club (BMSC) and was also a round of the NSW State Rally Championships.

Seen as an enjoyable challenge for the crew and a test of the car’s performance and reliability, the entertaining and unpredictable nature of the eight stages that made up Saturday’s rally has organisers praising the Tumut back roads.

“We were so impressed with the conditions of the road,” Public Officer for the BMSC, Adrian Dudok, said. “It was different to most courses as the roads we rally on are usually of a poor condition. The Tumut roads were unique in they had a thin gravel layer on top that made it challenging for some of the drivers.”

The return of the rally racing to the Tumut area had been delayed by bush-fires and a flood, with the forestry needing to rebuild various areas of the proposed course. The competitors were thrilled to be finally back racing in the valley.

“Saturday was the culmination of seven years of blood, sweat and tears trying to get the event back,” Mr Dudok said. “Our patience has been rewarded though and of the 21 crews that started the race, it would be safe to say 21 crews were satisfied with the course. We are hoping the success of the event will see entry numbers double next year.”

Unfortunately the rally coincided with the Visy shut meaning crews and supporters had to bunk down for the night in Gundagai, where the presentations were also held.

“We will ensure next year there is no clash so the community of Tumut benefits from the rally,” Mr Dudok said. “It was great and a very successful event. The club is grateful to the community for supporting us to come back here. The beauty of the Tumut event was it was compact, close to town and the stages were close to one another. It all revolved around the Bondo Airstrip where we set up our head quarters.”

The rally went off without a hitch with only one car crashing out of the race and with no crew injuries, it was an organiser’s dream return to the area.

“It is always difficult to get a new event off the ground but given how the crews were talking about the course, it should be a much larger rally next year,” Mr Dudok said. “I think there would have been quite a few locals who came out to see a rally in the backyard. The area lends itself to become a mus- do event and with forestry assistance we want to secure the rally as a yearly event.”

Winners of Saturday’s rally was car number three with driver Jon Parker and co-driver Tim Batten in their Mitsubishi Evo III taking out line honours.

Second place getters Doug Wright and Jon Hall in a Subaru Impreza WRX also claimed the  NSW State Rally Championships rounds as well.

Third to cross the dusty finish line was Peter Neal and Brian Everingham in their Subaru WRX.