The Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) officially begins the second half of its 2023 season this weekend with The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally.
Taking place in and around the forests of the Gippsland region, the ARC’s fourth round will prove a huge challenge for the best rally drivers in the country, with the event serving as the first endurance event of the year – the winner declared based on the combined Saturday and Sunday legs of the rally.
A strong field of 54 crews spread across the ARC and the Till US Pickups Motorsport Australia Victorian Rally Championship (VRC) will contest the rally, with 28 ARC crews to tackle all 16 stages, totalling 182 competitive kilometres.
View the Supplementary Regulations
This rally itself features one of the strongest ARC entry lists for the season, with a number of drivers capable of claiming an outright victory.
Headlining the field are the two Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia Yaris GR AP4s led by Harry and Lewis Bates alongside their co-drivers Coral Taylor and Anthony McLoughlin, the returning Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall, who will be behind the wheel of a Skoda Fabia R5
, and the Hyundai i20 G4 of Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith.
With another former ARC winner in Justin Dowel making his long-awaited return to the national championship alongside Tracey Dewhurst, a total of five ARC champions will be competing in the same event for the first time in ARC history.
In addition to the five ARC champions in the entry list, the strong field includes plenty of other contenders, such as Tasmanians Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey and West Australians Daniel Gonzalez and John Allen in their Skodas, the Ford Fiestas of Luke Anear and Troy Dowel, with their co-drivers Malcom Read and Bernie Webb respectively.
While the talent pool runs deep in the outright contenders, the Cups will be just as entertaining with a strong field of 10 crews to battle it out in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup, led by Tasmanians Steve Maguire and Bodie Reading and their co-drivers Ben Searcy and Mark Young.
The ARC 2WD Cup will also prove to be an intense battle with Ben and Cathy Hayes to continue their entertaining duel with Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid.
View the full entry list.
The action begins on Saturday morning with eight stages comprising 120 competitive kilometres, where all 55 crews will take part before a VRC winner is decided at the end of the day.
On Sunday, ARC crews will complete the remaining 61km over eight stages, the last of which will be the EROAD Power Stage, where crews will battle it out for bonus points.
The event’s EROAD Power Stage also moves away from the more traditional format of running in a forest stage, and instead takes place at the Boisdale Hillclimb course, which also serves as a spectator point.
Register for a free ticket here.
For those who can’t make it to the final stage of the weekend, 7plus
will be live streaming the stage from 2:05pm AEST, while an extended highlights show will be released in the weeks following.
The EROAD Power Stage won’t be the only opportunity for fans to see the cars in action, with four stages housing Spectator Points across the weekend – two on Saturday and a further two on Sunday – all of which will have multiple vantage points.
A special Friday night street party will see all 54 crews congregate at the picturesque Port of Sale for the highly anticipated Rally Show, where fans can get up close and to the cars and drivers ahead of the event.
All information on the EROAD Power Stage and the other Spectator Points can be found in the official Spectator Guide.
Fans will also be able to stay up to date with live updates via highlights, video interviews and results on the ARC social channels and rally.com.au.
Ahead of the round, Anear was excited for what he was expecting to be a highly challenging event.
"We are really looking forward to the weekend. Our car is all fixed thanks to the boys at M-Sport and we are ready to go," Anear said.
“It’s going to be interesting with the rain forecast as it's obviously an event where we need to read the conditions.
“I think endurance rounds are good events, because there is no second chance and every corner has to count.
“Obviously you need to make sure you're at the end and we will do what we can to be there - having not finished Gympie after a big crash, we really need to bounce back and I am hopeful this will be the one.
“The EROAD Power Stage looks exciting too and it’s going to be great for the crowd with the stage being a combination of motocross, rallycross and rally - it will be a good challenge and a bit of fun.
“Whoever is at the finish line on Sunday will be feeling pretty good with themselves I would imagine.”
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally
takes place in Sale, Heyfield and the broader Gippsland region on 25-27 August.