Ben Barker claims third Bega Valley Rally title

Kalaru rally driver Ben Barker has claimed his third-straight title in the Bega Valley Rally on Sunday.

Barker won the event by a small margin of one minute and 29 seconds from four-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates.

Barker had led his former team boss by just 54 seconds after the opening seven stages on Saturday, but was able to extend his advantage by a further 37 seconds across Sunday's seven stages.

2017 Australian rally champion Nathan Quinn secured third place with a good run in the final stages to finish a further two minutes and two seconds behind Bates.

Officials said they had been incredibly pleased with the weekend saying they were particularly pleased with the large number of spectators that enjoyed some of the dirt-racing action across the weekend.

Local fans said it was an enormous effort from Barker to beat back some strong competition with the local contender posting the quickest time in the final four stages to seal a hat-trick.

Jayke Skeffington had set the pace in the opening two stages of the day and had by stage 12 climbed the ranks to second place.

Unfortunately for the Subaru WRX driver a poor run on stage 13 cost the driver almost 30 minutes to fall well outside the top 10.

Meanwhile, it was Bates applying the most pressure in the later stages, never finishing more than 10 seconds in arrears of Barker.

Another Kalaru racer - Leigh Manning - had been running in 12th place until stage 10 when a mechanical failure forced an early exit from the event.

It was an unfortunate finish for Manning who had been leading his class and setting a cracking pace in his Datsun 1600.

Manning was not alone as one of 11 drivers who were forced to retire ahead of the final stage with sixth seed Bryan van Eck the highest ranked to withdraw with unknown mechanical issues in his Toyota Altezza that led him to a NSW rally championship in 2017.

More details to come.

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