The Townsville City Autosports Club hosts its annual Ingham Toyota Forest Rally this weekend with 16 crews to take part in the nine-stage event.
While metropolitan cities in Queensland are affected by the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the state’s rural regions are still allowed to host events in line with government restrictions – meaning the rally will go ahead.
Like many events running in line with Motorsport Australia’s Return To Race strategy and Government protocols, the Townsville City Autosports Club has implemented a number of changes in order to run this weekend.
The biggest change the club will make for the event is the adjustment of crews clocking in with control officials, which will now occur with more contactless procedures.
As it’s never been done before, RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) regulars Simon and Elyse Jansen have been helping the club come to terms with the new processes.
Event organiser Geoff Nicol revealed that the event preparation is progressing well.
“Everything is looking good for the event and we’re getting the last bits organised, including giving training sessions to all officials,” Nicol said.
“It’s a matter of making them understand the restrictions and what we have to do to continue – especially surrounding the control officials.
“Essentially what will happen is that instead of co-drivers coming out of the car to give their paperwork on the table when clocking in, officials will go up and get them to sign in while staying in their car.
“It’s obviously something we’re not used to but Simon and Elyse, who have experienced that process during their national and state championship campaigns, have been talking us through it, which has been really helpful.”
With many of the event’s regular competitors unable to make the trip up due to restrictions, a number of high-profile competitors such as Anthony Tander and Megan Byrne from the Motorsport Australia Queensland Rally Championship are unable to make it.
Because of that, the Jansens enter the round as the favourites courtesy of a solid run of form in the ARC’s opening two rounds of the year.
And although there are only 16 crews competing, Nicol was still pleased with the turnout for the multi-club rally.
“Considering the situation, we’re happy with 16 crews all up,” Nicol added.
“We usually get around that 25 mark, so considering that a number of crews can’t come from down south, it’s good to know we have similar numbers to what we usually get.
“The crews will be completing three passes of three stages, making it a nine-stage rally and I must admit that the roads are looking really good.
“A lot of people enjoy forestry roads, so they like competing in this one and we really like running it for them.
“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about - If the competitors are having a good time, then it makes us happy because it means all the hard work is paying off.”
The Ingham Toyota Forest Rally takes place around the Ingham forest on 7-8 August.