East Gippsland will be alive with excitement and the sound of engines when the Alpine Rally of East Gippsland returns later this year.
The Alpine Rally, which was first run in 1921 is Australia’s oldest motorsport event and the fourth oldest motorsport event in the world. With a history like that, it is easy to see why such an iconic event attracts cars and crews from every mainland state and territory in Australia as well as Tasmania, New Zealand and the UK.
This year has seen nearly 300 expressions of interest to run the event for a possible spot in the field of 105 cars that will take to the forests of East Gippsland from Friday the 29th November.
Such is the attraction of the Alpine that it will field 6 ex Australian Rally Champions, numerous state champions as well as the newly crowned Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn who won his first title last week at Rally Australia, Australia’s round of the World Rally Championship.
Add to that 4 times Australian Champion Simon Evans, 2017 winner Ben Barker and a who’s who of Australia’s best rallying and you have probably the best field ever in the event.
This year has also attracted 4 of New Zealand’s best rally drivers including Dean Buist and Derek Ayson as well as Irish National rally competitor Greg McCormack who will all be in Ford Escort BDA’s.
The Alpine Rally as Australia’s pre eminent Historic Rally means that it will attract the largest field ever of historic rally cars seen in this country. Event Director Owen Polanski said “Historic Rallying is the most popular form of the sport in the world at the moment, and Australia is no different.”
All cars must be over 30 years old, non turbo charged and non four wheel drive in keeping with the Alpines of old – which were tests of men and machines rather than technology.
“As well as that, the cars are incredibly exciting to watch” he said with a grin.
Polanski said “we are lucky to be so embraced by the East Gippsland community and especially Lakes Entrance which opens its community arms to well over 3000 people from all over Australia which includes competing crews, service crews, officials and spectators.”
“It is such a huge event to organize that it only takes place every two years and many crews build cars especially for this event” he said.
“It is not only Australias oldest motorsport event but one of the toughest with nearly 400 competitive kilometers over the three days of the event”.
The event is supported by East Gippsland Shire Council through its Regional and District Events Sponsorship program (RADES).
Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell said events such as these are vitally important to East Gippsland Shire as they directly and indirectly provide economic benefits to the region, along with the promotional benefits as a place to visit, live, work and invest.
“Council has supported the Alpine Rally for a number of years and is pleased to have been able to provide $3000 to this year’s event, which I am sure will be another success,” Cr O’Connell said.
“For the event promoters to continue to draw capacity fields time and time again is testament to not only the organisation of the Alpine Rally, but also to the terrain, natural beauty and hospitality our region extends to the 3000-strong contingent who converge on Lakes Entrance and East Gippsland from across Australia.
“I trust all competitors, crews and spectators enjoy the 2019 event and take the time to enjoy our region, its attractions and support our small businesses.”
The rally starts from the foreshore in Lakes Entrance from midday on Friday November 29th with a ceremonial start before heading out to the forests just north of Lakes for 4 stages which will help the crews settle for the next 2 gruelling days of competition.
Saturday will see the crews compete from Lakes Entrance, past Nowa Nowa, a service in Orbost and then through the forests to the East of Orbost before heading back to Lakes on Saturday evening.
Sunday’s competition will see the cars north of Nowa Nowa before finishing Sunday afternoon December 1st on the foreshore at Lakes Entrance. One of the highlights of the event is the chance to get up close to the cars and crews as they service on Sunday morning in Bruthen.