NSW Minister for Transport and Roads and NSW MLA local member for Bega, Andrew Constance will flag cars away this Saturday morning on the first competitive championship rally to be held in Australia, since before the World Championship Rally Australia was cancelled due to bushfires in November and the COVID 19 shutdowns that followed.
With a a full field of 90 cars including the reigning Australian champion Harry Bates leading the field in his Toyota Yaris, the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will also be the first major sporting event on the South Coast, injecting funds back into local businesses with around 500 visitors accommodated in Batemans Bay for the weekend, following the double whammy of the bushfire crisis and COVID 19 shutdowns.
Organisers say "The 2020 running of the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay has had to make massive changes to allow the event to run while the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. "The organising car club, North Shore Sporting Car Club (NSSCC), has put in place a significant COVID-19 plan and has been aided by the governing body for the sport, Motorsport Australia, ‘Return to Race’ program. "One of the consequences of the COVID restrictions has been a tough decision to not allow spectating at this year’s event. However, NSSCC and Rally NSW has put in place a series of online systems to allow rally fans to follow the popular event."
Michael Ward Rallysport is one of the many competitors looking forward to getting back out in the dirt at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.
Driver Michael Ward and Co-Driver John Fraser will be using the event to start preparations for this year's Classic Outback Trial scheduled for later this year in November.
"It's great to be able to get back into the driver's seat," Ward said. "We're using this event to start our preparations for the last Classic Outback Trial (COT) which has been moved to early November," he added.
Because the COT is a 'blind event’, the team will be running the Rally of the Bay using the Roadbook rather than choosing the pacenote option.
"Seat time, and practice reading the road at competition speed is what's needed for us leading up to the COT. With limited events this year, we're grateful the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay is on schedule," Michael said.
Co-Driver, John Fraser teamed up with Michael for the 2016 running of the Classic Outback Trial where they finished first in class. Fraser was then back for the 2018 running of the outback event, as well as the Alpine Rally of East Gippsland in 2017 and 2019.
The team will be running their venerable 1976 Toyota Corolla TE37 replica built in 2013 specifically for long distance rallies. The 1600cc 2TG engine has a ‘poor man's close ratio’ gearbox from a Lexus IS200 allowing the correct ratio for any situation. However, the smooth roads at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay won't be giving the MCA Gold suspension its usual workout!
Ward, based in Melbourne, started rallying back in the late seventies, ‘retired’ in 1986, having completed the State Bank Discovery Trial, and then returned to the sport in 2010. He has always had a keen interest in trials and long distance rally events.
Fraser, from Orange, NSW, has been navigating since his late teens, guiding many notable drivers. He is also an accomplished driver, winning the NSW Rally Championship class N2 twice, was second in the 1996 ARC to the works Daihatsu team (by 1 point!) and won his class in the 1996 Playstation Round Australia Trial.
The AMH Automotive Rally of the Bay will be conducted in the Forest surrounding Batemans Bay on the 4th of July.