Rally of Queensland to start

THE biggest field for a championship rally in Australia in years, 83 cars, will start the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast and Imbil this Friday.

The final entry list for the July 30-August 1 event features teams from India, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia, plus a star-studded driver line-up.

Starting in Caloundra on Friday night with two tarmac special stages at the Coates Hire Rally Shootout, the event will host round four of the 2010 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, round five of the Australian Rally Championship, rounds three and four of the Queensland Rally Championship, the third and final round of the Australian Classic Rally Competition and a category for All Comers.

Event director Errol Bailey promises spectators will be treated to a thrilling display of skill by international drivers making their only Australian appearance this year.

The international line-up comprises Australian Chris Atkinson, formerly with the Subaru World Rally Team and now the factory Proton R3 Malaysia squad, teammate and British Rally Champion Alister McRae (Scotland), Team MRF’s Asia Pacific champion Katsu Taguchi (Japan) and his Indian Rally Champion teammate Guarav Gill, Rifat Sungkar (Indonesia), Atsushi Masumura (Japan), Brian Green (New Zealand) and Jean-Louis Leyraud (France).

Three young Australians, Brendan Reeves, 21, Glen Raymond, 25, and Nathan Quinn, 24, have been given a chance to showcase their talents with wildcard entries in the Asia Pacific field, but the man who beat everyone in the 2009 event, Victorian Simon Evans, will run only in the Australian Rally Championship division in a bid to clinch his fourth driver’s crown.

“This is a fabulous field for the International Rally of Queensland,” said Mr Bailey.

“There will be more talent, more cars and more variety than has been seen at a championship rally in Australia for many years, and certainly at our own event since the mid-90s,” he said.

“If spectators have never seen a world-ranked driver like Chris Atkinson at work in a genuine works rally car like the Proton Satria Neo S2000 before, they’re in for a fantastic experience.

“There will be great battles to watch in every part of the field – the Classics will be particularly exciting to watch,” he said

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