FOR the first time since 2008, Narooma hosted a high speed car rally on the fast, flowing and popular roads that border the town. The Narooma Forest Rally, which was round 3 of the Techworkz Automotive ACT Regional Rally Series, attracted 23 of the top ACT and NSW rally drivers.
Reigning ACT Series Champions Michael Harding and Julie Boorman, driving a Subaru WRX led the crews away in the bright morning sunshine from the Service Park on NATA Oval, setting the fastest time on the first three competitive stages before succumbing to a turbo gasket issue.
The surprise packet of the day was 19-year-old Harry Bates, who in his second ever rally was setting times equal to those of the most experienced competitors in the field. Bates, son of four-times Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates, showed that he had definitely inherited the family talent, on his way to setting the fastest time on two of the eight rally stages driving a near standard Toyota Corolla. Without a doubt, the Narooma Forest Rally will be remembered as the time that Australia’s next big motorsport talent announced himself.
With the afternoon rain setting in, the crews returned to the forest for a second loop of the forest stages in tricky and slippery conditions. Experience shone through in these difficult circumstances, with previous ACT Series Champions Michael Barrett and Thomas Barrett sweeping the stages to take the outright event win.
“We were thrilled to hear that Narooma would be hosting a rally again, as the roads here are some of the best roads in the country,” Michael Barrett said,
“We had a trouble free run, and enjoyed every aspect of the event, especially seeing the excitement of the locals in the community,” he said.
Andrew Penny and Rhys Llewlleyn finished second outright, in a Subaru WRX which they built in only four weeks, after their usual car suffered an engine failure at the Rally of Batemans Bay that saw the car gutted by fire.
“We are only here today due to the support from the rallying community,” Andrew Penny said.
”We have received so many calls of support and assistance over the last four weeks, and we are incredibly lucky to get the new car to this event and have a good shake down run,” he said.
Event organiser Michael Taylor praised the local community for their support of the event, where over 100 people gathered at the spectator point to watch the fast paced action.
“We are already in discussions with Eurobodalla Council to lock in a date for the rally in 2015,” Taylor said.
“We are very keen to ensure the Narooma Forest Rally becomes an annual event, as we can see the event growing to become one of the most popular events on the calendar.”
Results: First; Barrett / Barrett – 1:21:14. Second; Penny / Llewellyn – 1:24:34, third; Waterhouse / Wilson – 1:24:54