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John McCredie

NSSCC to donate a Colorado Ute to the bAy Team

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Did you see the NSSCC video where Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor Liz Innes spoke about how the Rally of the Bay can help the local Community?

If not, watch now below…

In the video, NSSCC featured three people who were severely affected by the devastating summer bushfires. There was no explanation of who they are and why they were in the video, but it is now time to reveal their stories.

But first, during the bushfire crisis, many organisations raised money to help those affected and NSSCC was one of those organisations who raised funds to assist with the recovery.

The Sydney based Car Club has a special connection with Batemans Bay and the Eurobodalla Shire because of the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, a motorsport event held in the Forests of the Eurobodalla Shire each year for the past 30 years.

The Car Club wanted to use the money raised by NSSCC members and friends to help a great cause close to the Bay. NSSCC President, Brett Middleton, discovered a group of people calling themselves “The bAy TEAM” who had been helping people recover from the bushfires by building much needed accommodation. And what a story it is, but before we get into that, let’s meet the people from the Video.

Magenta – Magenta and her family live in Mogo, about a kilometre from the flying finish marker in “Run to Mogo” special stage. During the bushfires, her house was completely destroyed by the fires. Her partner Damien stayed to fight, but he had to leave because the intensity of the fire was so fierce that he had no hope of saving the house and risked losing his life if he stayed. And, he was well prepared.

Their family still don’t have a new house built and their beautiful ‘picture postcard’ block of land still looks like a bomb has hit it. They are living in their shed, that somehow managed to be saved.

The Bay Team came in and fit out the shed, lining it with Plasterboard and making it liveable. Much of the labour was provided at well below cost and many volunteer hours were spent completing the fit-out.

Joe – Joe lost everything in the fires and is now living in a very second-hand caravan close to where Magenta’s home used to stand. The caravan leaks very badly and is covered with a tarpaulin to help keep rain out. The Bay Team will be building a new place for Joe to live and he’s looking forward to moving out of the Caravan.

David – David lost his house, possessions and all his work equipment in the bushfires. But instead of focussing on his own recovery, he immediately went out and helped others fight the fires, helping to save many properties from destruction. In the aftermath of the fires, he has gone above and beyond to help people in need, assisting those who couldn’t get to the relief centres and doing whatever he could.

David has a passion for helping people and started to assist those who had lost everything start the rebuilding process. He formed the bAy TEAM and together with a small group of trades people and skilled workers has helped rebuild people’s houses… and lives.

The bAy TEAM is a business, but it’s focus has been on helping people and not making a profit. David has put his effort into getting the job done and not making the business profitable. He and his team have put in many hours of their own time, resources and skills to rebuild the Batemans Bay and surrounding community, whilst ignoring their own needs.

Colorado Ute Donation

North Shore Sporting Car Club wanted to do more than just donate some money, so it was decided that the club would use the funds raised to purchase equipment for the bushfire recovery. It was decided that NSSCC would purchase a $12,990 second-hand Colorado Ute to donate to the bAy TEAM.

AMH Automotive Group gladly assisted the club to secure the vehicle and their contribution towards its purchase reflects the fantastic relationship NSSCC has had with AMH as naming rights partner for the Rally of the Bay.

The Coachhouse Marina Resort and the Village Centre & Bridge Plaza shopping Centres has also assisted with several yet to be revealed gifts and the vehicle will be on display in the Village Centre this week.

The Colorado will be given to the bAy TEAM on Friday the 3rd of July at 1pm in the Village Centre by several representatives of North Shore Sporting Car Club. The club would like to thank those who donated to the fund over Christmas.

Stanford Motorsport to contest Clubman Series at AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Stanford Motorsport are preparing their Datsun Stanza and getting ready for the Techworkz Automotive NSW Clubman Rally Series, which kicks off this weekend at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.

Driver Dennis Stanford from West Nowra will be joined by Sydney based Co-Driver, Tim Woods for the 2020 running of the Rally of the Bay and the team are hoping for a good result in their first event for the season.

“We won the Clubman Rally series in the same Datsun Stanza that we run now, back in 2010,” Stanford said. “This year we’re looking to do the full Techworkz Automotive Clubman Series in the Stanza, and hopefully we’ll do well again,” he said.

“It’ll be good to get back out there again after these COVID restrictions,” Stanford added.

Stanford has been involved in rallying for over 30 years and it’s not just him that loves motorsport, his whole family are involved, being active members of the local car club, the Shoalhaven and Kiama district Automotive Club (SKADC).

The Team were last at the Rally of the Bay in 2019 and this rally is a favourite for the team. Stanford enjoys the well maintained and flowing forestry roads and particularly enjoys the long, 44km ‘Run to Mogo’ stage.

Stanford’s best recent result was finishing the 2018 Narooma Forest Rally in 10th and believes the LA Lancer team of Ron and Steve McKinnon as his biggest rival at the Batemans Bay event.

Stanford puts the success of his rally team down to consistency and reliability with the car being tuned by Datsun specialist, Stewart Wilkins from SW Motorsport. The team is also supported by Ausdeck Nowra, Fair Dinkum Removals Nowra, and Balance Motorsport Australia Rally Light Pods.

“I’d like to thank Tim Woods for stepping up and co-driving for me at the Rally of the Bay and also a special thanks to Steve Barry from Sanitar Shoalhaven and his family for putting their hands up to service for me,” Stanford concluded.

The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will be held on the 4th of July, starting at 8:45am in Batemans Bay.

Rebuilt Subarus lighter and faster for 2020 season

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Victorian Rally Champion, Arron Windus, will finally get his season underway on Saturday when he competes in the Rally of the Bay in NSW.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the sport on hold this year, and with no events in Victoria until at least September, Windus and co-driver Daniel Brick have been forced to head to the NSW coast to get their first motorsport fix of the year.

Windus’ Western Victorian Crane Trucks team will field two Subaru Impreza WRXs in the rally, with his father, Darren, also competing in the first round the NSW Rally Championship.

Arron took the Victorian title in convincing style last year, but isn’t resting on his laurels as he continues his push to make rallying more than just a hobby.

His title-winning Subaru has undergone a full rebuilt since the end of last season, and will be faster and even more competitive in 2020.

“We’ve got a lot better package than we had in 2019,” Arron explained.

“The car now us upgraded suspension, has been on a decent weight loss program, and also has a few more ponies (horsepower) underneath the bonnet.”

His car will feature a gorgeous new blue and yellow livery that pays tribute to the late Possum Bourne’s 1996 Australian Rally Championship winning Subaru WRX.

“The car has come up an absolute treat and is in pristine showroom condition,” he added.

“My uncle (a panel beater) and the Activ Rallysport team really put solid time and effort into the rebuild and the finished product speaks for itself.”

Darren Windus also has a fully rebuilt Subaru at his disposal for the 2020 season.

He’ll drive the same WRX that he used at the end of last season, but it has been upgraded with more horsepower, and a suspension package that brings it to a similar spec as Arron’s Subaru.

The team’s unique ‘father-son’ combinations continue this year, with Daniel Brick’s father, Joe, co-driving for Darren.

Both teams will get their first chance to try out their rebuilt Subarus this Thursday, at a test day near Canberra.

“We’re extremely excited to test these newly built rockets and see first-hand what improvements have been made,” Arron said.

“The field of 90 cars for the Rally of the Bay is just about the strongest seen in Australian rallying for many years, and we’re both looking forward to putting our best foot forward.”

The rally will run out of the tourist town of Batemans Bay on Saturday, with drivers tackling seven competitive stages over a distance of 140km.

Hatton ‘Super Excited’ As Rallying Returns

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

PHOTO: Sydney rally driver JJ Hatton is back in action this weekend.

By Team Release

JJ Hatton is back behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 rally car this weekend, when the sport resumes after the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been a long time between drinks for the Sydneysider, but this weekend’s Batemans Bay based ‘Rally of the Bay’ will finally see him raising the dust against a top class field.

The rally is the first round of the NSW Rally Championship, but with the Coronavirus break this year, it has also attracted the cream of the crop from the Australian Rally Championship.

Hatton will team with regular co-driver, Nathan Long, for the one-day event, but will also have a chance to test the car on Thursday to get back into the feel of things.

“I haven’t driven the car since a test day in Victorian back in February, so it’s been a long time between drinks,” Hatton said.

“I’m super excited to get in the rally car again as, like everyone, I’ve really missed the sport and have done nothing but work over the last few months.”

His Hyundai i20 is based in Melbourne where it is maintained by the Activ RallySport team, which means Hatton hasn’t even had the chance to sit in the car for many months.

“The test day will be really important to get back into the groove of things and see where the car is at,” he added.

“We’ll be testing with the Toyota factory team and a few others, so it will be a good opportunity to fine-tune a few things and get the car dialed in for the Bay.”

Following testing on Thursday, Hatton and Long will spend Friday driving the rally stages and writing their safety notes for the seven competitive stages that will cover nearly 140 kilometres.

Not only will it be great to have rallying back again, but the Batemans Bay region is also eagerly awaiting the arrival of the rally after a horrid 2020. After devastating bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic has really hurt local tourism.

A full field of 90 cars is expected for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, which has implemented strict safety guidelines to meet the ever-changing needs of the pandemic.

Holloway gaining traction and ready for AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

PHOTO: Holloway and Hood at the Alpine Rally

Geoff Holloway and Rick Hood are gaining traction in their bid to take on Australia’s best at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.

After a 37-year break from rally driving, Holloway purchased a Hyundai Excel in 2019 in a bid to return to the sport he loves. The bright green pocket rocket had previously served five different owners across three states and one territory before finding a new home with Holloway in the Melbourne suburb of Templestowe.

Rick Hood stepped forward to co-drive for the 2019 season, bringing considerable recent experience to the team.

“We had a pretty bold plan for 2019,” Holloway said. “We competed in, and finished, nine events and at each event we were steadily gaining confidence, speed and reliability, generally finishing mid pack. I reckon the very fast tracks at the Rally of the Heartland in Burra, South Australia were one of the highlights of the season” Holloway recalls.

“There’s always close racing amongst the Excel gang in the stages. So much great camaraderie and support between the teams. It’s the little things make it great, like borrowing a radiator from another team so we could finish the Australian Rally Championship round at the Eureka Rush rally” Holloway added.

The 2019 season ended with the very wet and shortened Alpine Rally in Victoria, where the crew were seeded 106th in a field of 106. Undaunted by the horrendous track conditions, the team slithered through the stages to finish a highly creditable 45th.

During the extended off-season, the Hyundai Excel has had an extensive makeover featuring new paint and some fancy artwork added to the bonnet.

“Kermit, as all green cars are named, is looking pretty spruced up. Bring on the Rally of the Bay,” Holloway joked.

The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay is set to take place on the 4th of July with a field of over 80 cars set to take to the roads of the forests surrounding Batemans Bay.

PHOTO: Holloway and Hood at the Heartland Rally in South Australia

Cooper Tyres join High Country Motorsports

By Rally, Rally of the Bay 2020

The team at High Country Motorsports are busy preparing for there much anticipated return to motorsport next month at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.

With the last event for the team being well over 9 months ago, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes.

High Country Motorsports is excited to announce they will be partnering with Cooper motorsport tyres to launch the brand new Cooper Discoverer DG1 gravel rally tyre in Australia. They will be making the most of a pre-event test day being run in the Kowen forest just outside of Canberra in the week leading up to the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.

Due to COVID-19 this will be the team’s first chance to become familiar with the brand new Cooper Discoverer DG1 gravel rally tyres and reacquaint themselves in the car. The team are excited to bring another tyre brand into the Australian market and with the well regarded reputation of Cooper tyres it’s sure to give them the confidence they need on the roads around Batemans Bay.

High Country Motorsports is made up of Driver Chris Higgs and co-driver Daymon Nicoli.

Behnke Rallying to be back in the Driver’s Seat

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Following a five-year hiatus from being behind the wheel, the Rally of the Bay on the 4th of July is set to see the return to the driver’s seat for Canberra rally competitor Mike Behnke.

Over the past few months, Mike’s revitalised Honda Civic, which is undergoing a ground up refurbishment, has rapidly taken shape thanks to the help of members of the Light Car Club of Canberra and the Qirx Motorsports team. The group of enthusiastic teammates and supporters has been working late nights, early mornings and weekends to transform the Civic from what was a freshly painted shell just two weeks ago, into a car ready to take to the start line.

Mike is no stranger to club level motorsport. Since stepping back from rally driving in 2015 he has remained active in local car clubs, has dabbled in circuit racing, and continued competing on the dirt from the passenger seat, co-driving for drivers such as Blake Stevens, Meng Chung, Matt Thompson, Anna Ritson and Hannah Stevens.

“I enjoy navigating and contributing in other ways to the sport I love” Mike said. “But I’ve known for some time that it was time to get back into the driver’s seat in my own car. I think many others have felt the same and have been encouraging me to do so,” he continued.

“It’s been incredibly humbling for me to have so many people from the rally community come out in force and help us get back into the forest. To have people actively seeking to help, and willing to take on any tasks, from rebuilding the engine to cleaning and preparing suspension components, is just so appreciated.”

“In my role as President of the LCCC I have witnessed first-hand the hard work and dedication of LCCC members, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Members of the rallying community are always willing to assist each other, not just with their own cars, but to get other people to events, and keeping them going at events.”

Mike also pays tribute to both Denis Stevens, owner of Qirx Motorsports, and his son Blake, both of whom have shared the highs and lows of rallying with Mike over the years.

“Denis and Blake have an unwavering enthusiasm for rallying, and we have achieved so many personal and competitive successes over the years. I look forward to contributing to our list of achievements as a team once again,” Mike added.

The thought of competing again as a driver was already on the radar for Mike when he and his driver Matt Thompson were incredibly fortunate to escape a serious crash at the Alpine Rally of East Gippsland in November last year. The crash destroyed the car, and seriously injured Matt. An awareness of the level of safety gear that saved their lives has been a key aspect of Mike’s preparation of the Civic, and no expense has been spared in the preparation of the car.

“We were very lucky that Matt’s car stood up so well to what was a massive hit” Mike recounts. “Since the crash, it has been widely publicised that we’d been supplied with counterfeit safety harnesses, and mine failed on impact. So I’m very lucky.”

Mike has dealt with the emotional recovery from the incident by reflecting on the lessons learnt, rather than the accident itself.

“It just goes to show that spending money on safety gear is really an investment in your future. Trying to save a few bucks is meaningless if you’re not around to enjoy it. Buying equipment from a reputable supplier is critical as there are some very passable counterfeit equipment doing the rounds,” he said

Ellie Yates is Mike’s partner and co-driver for the upcoming rally, but does Mike believe the car will be ready?

“We still have a fair way to go to get to the start line for the Rally of the Bay, but each day I am more confident that we’ll make it. I may just not be getting much sleep between now and then! I’ve said to Ellie that it should all come together for the event. Hopefully, it’s not just me trying to convince myself!” he laughs.

The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay is the first ACT/NSW rally event to be held in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a bumper field is set to take on the challenging forest roads around Batemans Bay on the 4th of July.

Ruggles Motorsport start Clubman Assault at AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

The Ruggles Motorsport Team are planning a full assault on the 2020 Techworkz Automotive NSW Clubman Rally Series in their Group 4 specification Triumph TR7 V8.

It’s an all family affair for the team with lead engineer and major sponsor Ben Ruggles heading up the team, Matt Ruggles driving and son Guy Ruggles in the co-drivers seat. They also have their adopted brother, ‘Pommy’ Paul Beaston on the Service Crew.

Matt is no stranger to rallying, having 40 years of driving experience under his belt. He won the inaugural NSW Classic Rally Series in 2006 and is eager to secure another good result in the two-wheel-drive category at the Rally of the Bay.

The Group 4 Triumph would normally be contesting the East Coast Classic Rally Series (ECCRS) and selected national events, but will be dedicated to the Clubman Series this year with two trips to the NSW South Coast region.

“Things are starting to shape up well for a return to rallying after these COVID restrictions,” Matt Ruggles said. “As well as the Clubman Series, we’ll also be doing some other events this year. We’re members of North Shore Sporting Car Club who run a bunch of rally events, so where we can we like to do those,” Matt added.

The team will return south to Narooma for the second round of the Clubman Series in August. This event will officially mark 40 years of rally competition for Matt, who entered his first rally as a driver at the Narooma Booma Rally in a Mitsubishi Colt 1100 SS.

In a return to Matt’s original rally marque roots, the team has also recently purchased a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3. The EVO sits in the wings waiting for other selected events to give the team a taste of some 4WD fun in 2020.

Normally the Ruggles family would be working as stage commanders for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, so this year will be a change of pace for the team.

“We’re really looking forward to competing on the great roads the Bay has to offer and of course, the usual exemplary stewardship of the north Shore Sporting Car Club who run this event. We can’t wait,” Matt Ruggles concluded.

The AMH Automotive Rally of the Bay will be conducted in the Forest surrounding Batemans Bay on the 4th of July.

Thompson and Hind back for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Photo: Dave King

Peter Thompson and Ken Hind will be back at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay for their third year running in their bright yellow historic 1976 Celica.

Thompson moved to the Eurobodalla Shire several years ago and he considers this event his home rally and also one of his favourite motorsport events. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing out in the Batemans Bay forests.

“Last year we had a bit of a mixed event,” Thompson said. “We were going great guns until about 14 kilometers from the end of the 45km Rutherford Run to Mogo stage. I overcooked a corner and ran off the road, rolling the car. We were both fine and uninjured, but the poor little Celica was a bit worse for wear and that was our rally over,” Thompson added.

Perhaps fittingly, the Rally of the Bay will be the first event for the car and crew following the Celica’s repair.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out there again,” Thompson said. “But this time I‘ll be taking that corner nice and slow,” he joked.

“It’s great that the organisers and local community could get this event happening again and working within the COVID restrictions. Everyone is hankering to go rallying again. It’ll be very competitive out there, especially at the top of the field,” Thompson said.

Thompson has a long history in rallying, with an extensive list of events in his career as a driver. 25 Years ago he entered the 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial, one of the last great round Australia endurance rallies. He and his good friend Michael Valantine shared the driving and co driving for that event and Thompson is pleased to see Michael making the trek down from the Hunter region to compete at the Rally of the Bay.

“It’ll be 25 years, almost to the day, that Mike and I were sitting next to each other ready to start the Round Australia Trial. We were also in a similar Celica in that event and we did the full 20,000 kilometers of the rally. I really like the old Celicas and I’m looking forward to competing against Mike at the Bay, although I suspect I’ll be in his dust,” Thompson concluded.

The Celica will be back in the Forests for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay on Saturday the 4th of July.

Photo: Gravel Pics

Young Gun itching for first Event – AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Photo: Roy Meuronen

16-year-old learner driver Taylor Gill is itching to get behind the wheel of his Subaru WRX for his first rally. The young gun has teamed up with experienced co-driver, Peter Harris, to compete at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay on July 4th.

It has been a long time coming for Gill, who was originally scheduled to compete at Rally Australia late in 2019, but the devastating summer bushfires saw the cancellation of the event. Whilst disappointing, there were already plans afoot to enter the full season of the MTA NSW Rally Championship in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic would also see those plans dashed, and the Newcastle based driver was left wondering if he would ever get into the forests for a rally. Now that COVID restrictions have eased in NSW, the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will be the first rally event in Australia since the COVID restrictions and the first round of the MTA NSW Series.

“I just can’t wait to do my first rally,” Gill said. “I’m really excited about competing in Batemans Bay and just want to get out there and do some driving. We’ve already done our reconnaissance of the roads, and they look fantastic,” Gill continued.

“We built the car in time to do Rally Australia, but when that didn’t happen, it was a big let-down after all the preparation. We did do a few rallysprints earlier in the year in our old car and ended up winning the Westlake Automobile Club Rallysprint series, which was pretty good. But, I just can’t wait to get out there and do my first real rally,” Gill added.

The Subaru WRX is a 1999 GC8 and was built at home with help from his Dad, family and friends. The build included a full Bond roll-cage and all the latest safety equipment.

Gill has an exemption to rally on his learners permit, something only a handful of other drivers have been able to achieve. Harris, who is 42 years Gill’s senior, is in the co-drivers seat as part of the requirements of the Motorsport Australia exemption.

“Taylor drives sensibly and whilst he’s young, I feel quite comfortable in the car with him,” Harris said. “I’ve done a few rallysprints with him already and I think he’s got a good chance of doing really well in the MTA NSW Championship. I’m in the car to help him learn and get some experience, but ultimately he’ll probably end up with a much younger co-driver in the future,” Harris added.

The Rally of the Bay is also part of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship ARC4 and Gill is planning on using this event to score points towards that award.

With almost 90 cars entered, including many Australian Rally Championship teams, Gill’s first rally will see him up against some tough competition and will be the ideal opportunity for him and his team to measure their progress against some of the best drivers and teams in Australia.