Just a few weeks after an epic opener to the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship, the second round has arrived with a huge field of talented steerers to tackle the forests of Oberon.
More than 50 crews are entered in the 2022 Midstate Freight Oberon Stages Rally, which is also hosting the second round of both the Clubman and Hyundai Rally Series and the third round of the East Coast Classic Rally Series.
A gruelling 146.22 competitive kilometres spread across 10 stages awaits the 31-state championship listed crews, all of whom will be hoping for a big result.
Enjoying the number one seed tag are reigning champions Tony Sullens / Kaylie Newell with the duo to be behind the wheel of the very quick 2015 Peugeot 208 AP4.
They will have their work cut out for them thista weekend though with a number of RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship crews and top state crews entered.
The notable drivers looking to shake things up for the day include Jamie Neale, Thomas Dermody, Clay Badenoch, Peter Dimmock and Simon Jamieson – despite all five being down the order on the start list.
Click here to view the start list.
There are also names entered in the event that might be more familiar to ARC fans with Tom Clarke, Timothy Wilkins, Dean Ridge and the legendary ARC title winning combination of Neal Bates and Coral Taylor.
All four crews would consider themselves hopeful of getting a good result on the weekend, especially Clarke and Wilkins, who finished fifth and sixth outright respectively at the Netier National Capital Rally earlier this month.
For Clarke, who is running a classic 1981 Datsun Stanza as opposed to his Ford Fiesta R5, Oberon is a nostalgic event and one that he enjoys contesting.
“I am absolutely looking forward to this weekend as it’s been a while since I have been in a classic car. In fact, I have probably been in a classic car maybe two or three times in five years,” Clarke said.
“We’re really excited because this is a rally that is close to home and we have picked up a new car, which hasn’t done any time on a gravel road, so this is the perfect place to test it.
“Oberon also has a special place in my heart because it was my first ever rally and I have done it six or seven times so for me, the roads are really good out there.
“I have no expectations, but I just want to get the car around to where it is supposed to be and hopefully have a crack at the 2WD Championship if things go well.”
Wilkins on the other hand is targeting a big charge for a state championship but will have plenty of work to do after a disappointing Saturday in Canberra hurt his chances.
Still, having won the event twice in his career, Wilkins remains confident that he can give Sullens a run for his money.
“There are some pretty good names in the entry list, especially Tony, but for me I am more looking forward to getting the car and getting some redemption for Canberra,” Wilkins said.
“A few top guys are going but I think it will end up alright for us and we would like to try and win this weekend. We have done it before so I think it’s possible, we can do it again.
“With that said, unfortunately Tony Sullens has bought an AP4 and that makes him the benchmark of the course. We ourselves have made some adjustments but hopefully it doesn’t take us long to find our speed.
“These roads suit us and I love the idea of a blind rally, so I am looking forward to getting on the road book and having a crack.”
Click here for more information on the round.
The 2022 Midstate Freight Oberon Stages Rally takes place in Oberon on Saturday 23 April.