When the 43 strong entrants head to the 2019 Automotive Monaro Stages, it will have an entirely different feel to the event they competed in 12 months ago.
The biggest change to the rally that won the 2018 CAMS NSW/ACT Event of the Year is the simple fact that it won’t be affected by gale force winds and torrential rain, which plagued the event and was responsible for stage cancellations last year.
For this year’s event though, the weather is expected to hold up and give CAMS MTA NSW Rally Championship title contenders every chance to claim the championship.
Crews will be covering more than 150km across two heats around the picturesque Coolangubra State Forest as well as the surrounding shire roads.
Event organisers have been working overtime to get the event, and new roads, in good stead for the final round, which deputy Clerk of Course Kim Winks believes is ready to go.
“We are going pretty good and the forest here is looking very nice,” Winks said.
“It’s not wet at all. There was a bit of rain here yesterday but it’s drying out now. The preparation is done. All the shire roads look good and are ready for the day so we are very excited.
“We have changed one of the stages a little bit - mainly getting rid of the clay which makes it difficult for drivers if it is wet but other than that, it’s effectively the same as last year.
“It will also be a little foreign this year because all of the competitors wouldn’t have seen our shire roads due to being washed out last year which we are very excited about.
"One family of locals will be throwing a party of about 50 people where the cars drive past so you can definitely say there is a lot of excitement going on around here.”
As for the Championship itself, two drivers are locked in a tight battle for the title with Richard Shimmon and Glen Raymond both a good chance for glory.
Both drivers have had a solid season this year with Shimmon’s Rally of the Bay win and consistency across all other rounds leaving him on 201 points, while Raymond’s opening three round wins have kept him in the game on 178 points despite missing a round.
A further six points behind Raymond is Tony Sullens, but the Citroen DS3 pilot will need to win his first rally for the year and hope the two drivers above him fail to finish the event for any chance to win.
While the state championship has a lot of competition going for it, the supporting card also has title stories of their own - including the East Coast Classic Rally Series, ACT Regional Rally Series, TechWorkz Clubman Rally Series and Development Rally Series.
Click here to view the entry list.
“Not only is the course a little different but with the calibre of crews that we have driving here - it's just going to be great event," Winks added.
“There are a lot of tussles going on at the moment with Richard Simmons and Glen Raymond leading the way in the state championship, while in the ACT series, Andrew Penny is a good chance for the Gold Cup.
“However for me, the Novice Cup is definitely the most exciting because it’s the best competition we have had in the series for a long time. There is three-way fight between Chris Stilling, Tom Easton and James Dimmick, which is fantastic.
“Those three boys in particular will get a kick out of the course because they have not been out here before and like most drivers, they will really love it out here.
“We have also had a bonus in our sponsors with Brumby Distillery recently coming on board and Laser Lamp offering an $800 prize for the outright winners of the event.”
The Automotive Monaro Stages takes place around the Coolingubra State Forest on 19 October.