East Gippsland Embraces Centenary Alpine Rally

East Gippsland will be alive with excitement and the sound of engines when the Lock & Load Alpine Rally of East Gippsland returns later this year.

The Alpine Rally, which was first run by the RACV in 1921 is Australia’s oldest motorsport event and the second oldest rally in the world behind the famed Monte Carlo Rally.

The Lock & Load Alpine Rally is an iconic event, attracting cars and crews from every mainland state and territory in Australia as well as Tasmania, New Zealand, America and the UK. This year has seen nearly 400 expressions of interest competing for a possible spot in the field of 105 cars that will take to the forests of East Gippsland from Thursday the 2nd December.  Such is the attraction of the Alpine that it will field multiple ex Australian and State Rally Champions.

As part of the centenary celebrations the event has extended to four days and will visit locations not used since the 1970’s. This year Ensay, Swifts Creek, Omeo and Benambra feature prominently on the third day, which begins from the Little River Inn at Ensay, has a major service stop at Omeo Recreation Reserve and an exciting spectator focused stage right on the outskirts of Omeo township. Other locations to feature prominently include Orbost, Nowa Nowa, Bruthen and, of course, Lakes Entrance.

The Alpine Rally will attract the largest ever field 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.”  He explained that all cars must be over 30 years old, non-turbo charged and two-wheel drive, in keeping with the Alpines of old which were tests of men and machines rather than current technology.  “As well as that, these cars are incredibly exciting to watch” he said with a grin.

Polanski said “We are lucky to be so welcomed by the East Gippsland community and especially Lakes Entrance, which opens its community arms to well over 3000 people from all over Australia including competing crews, service crews, volunteer 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 Australia’s oldest motorsport event but one of the toughest with nearly 500 competitive kilometers over the four days of the event”.

The event is supported by East Gippsland Shire Council through its Regional and District Events Sponsorship program (RADES).

Mayor, Cr Mendy Urie, said Council has supported the Alpine Rally for a number of years and is pleased to have been able to provide $10,000 to this year’s event.

“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,” Cr Urie said.

“I trust all competitors, crews and spectators enjoy the centenary event and take the time to enjoy our region, its attractions and support our small businesses.

“I am sure the 2021 Alpine Rally will be another success,” Cr Urie said.

The rally starts from the Lakes Entrance foreshore at midday on Thursday December 2nd before heading out to the forests just north of Lakes for three stages which will help the crews settle for the next three grueling days of competition. 

Friday will see the crews compete from Lakes, past Nowa Nowa, a service in Orbost and then through the forests to the North of Orbost before heading back to Lakes on Friday evening. Saturday is our ‘High Country Day’ based around the Omeo region. Sunday’s competition will see the cars based out of Bruthen before finishing that afternoon on the foreshore at Lakes Entrance for the winners champagne spray.

One of the highlights of the event is the chance to get up close to the cars and crews as they service on Saturday at the Rec Reserve in Omeo and on Sunday morning in the main street of Bruthen.

For comprehensive spectator information closer to the event or all other information, go to alpinerally.org.au or go to the Alpine Rally of East Gippsland Facebook page.  These will be updated over the course of the event to keep people informed of how the rally unfolds.

Page banner pic by Wishart Media.

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