BASED on the service park and rally HQ at the Unkya Reserve, the 2020 North Coast Rally ran in the forests around Eungai Creek and Macksville on Saturday.
The event was organised by the Australian Motor Sport Action Group (AMSAG) and directed by 2017 Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn (who noted after the event that driving in rallies was a lot less work than organising them).
Cancellation of a NSW Rally Championship round the preceding weekend added a few more competitors and a field of 47 cars started the rally. The COVID-19 pandemic this year severely reduced the number of rallies, and competitors were eager to get in as much driving as possible.
The event consisted of eight stages on gravel roads, covering 133 kilometres of competitive driving.
If you are unfamiliar with the speeds achieved in rallies, the winning car covered the distance in one hour and 31 minutes for an average speed of just over 88kph.
Roads were in generally excellent condition despite a small amount of rain earlier in the week, and the Forestry Corporation must be thanked not only for letting rally cars into the forest but for providing great conditions for the competition.
Thirty-four cars were classed as official finishers, with mechanical failure accounting for the majority of the 13 non-finishers. (One car withdrew because they thought there were "too many big humps", but as it was the first ever rally for that driver, co-driver and car they were allowed to be a bit cautious).
This might sound like a high dropout rate, but the lack of competition during 2020 didn't allow for much real life endurance testing.
Special mention should be made of the Macksville Lions Club who provided food and drinks all day (and even made a special trip to obtain some sugar-free soft drinks) and the medical team from Beneficial Safety who had nothing to do all day except to assist someone (me, actually) who had inhaled part of a sausage sandwich and thought he was choking to death.
First - Jamie Luff/Brad Luff, Subaru WRX
Second - Simon Jamieson/Luke Jamieson, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7
Third - Andrew Maurer/Brett Kerr, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO6
Fourth - Brian van Eck/Jim Gleeson, Toyota Altezza
Fifth - Jeames Taylor/Steve Jordan, Mitsubishi Galant VR4.