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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.

Victorians looking to impress at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Victorians Adrian Stratford and Kain Manning will be debuting a fully rebuilt Ford Fiesta ST at the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay. The car was purchased late last year and completely stripped down, with many improvements made to make it ready for the 2020 Till Hino Victorian Rally Championship (VRC).

In addition to the VRC, the team were also hoping to enter at least three Australian Rally Championship (ARC) rounds, however the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the team will now reconsider their ARC assault, with only one event likely.

Brendon Reeves assisted the team with car setup and handling, and an extensive testing regime has been undertaken to get the car sorted in time for the start of the 2020 season.

The Ford Fiesta was originally built in Bendigo for Steven MacKenzie to contest the 2015 ARC. MacKenzie had some good solid results in the car, but with limited outings, it was sold to Activ Rallysport who used it as a rallycross car.

“I was keen to buy a car and approached Justin Dowel from Activ Rallysport,” Stratford said. “I was actually interested in buying the Rally School Mazda 2 that Brendon Reeves ran in the ARC. The Mazda needed quite a bit of work to get it back into rallying condition, as it’d also been converted to a rallycross car. But it probably needed more time that I could put in before the 2020 season was meant to start.”

“While I was at looking at the Mazda, I was also showed the Fiesta and I instantly knew it was the one. It had huge moulded flares, big wide stance and an ineligible WRC wing. How could I not buy it,” Stratford added.

The car was hurriedly readied for the first VRC round at the Mitta Mountain Rally, but the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed the teams plans.

“Me being me, I stripped the car again, put in a new rear end, made more changes in the front end, more engine performance improvements, weight distribution changes and also made changes to the differential,” Stratford said.

With Rally of the Bay fast approaching fast, the team finished the car and got it out for further testing. But the build of the car could not have been possible without the help of the teams sponsors, Exedy Australia, Zestino Tyres Australia, Bendigo Specialist Brake and Clutch, Cooldrive, and JAM Automotive.

Stratford’s rallying started back in 2018 when he attended the first round of the ARC. “It was the first rally I had ever been to and I only went to spectate. Watching the front ARC cars go past us at ridiculous speed, I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” Stratford said.

Stratford immediately bought a Daihatsu Charade and weeks later entered his first event, The George Woods introductory rally. He then competed in the entire Victorian Club Rally Series, managing first in the P1 class, first novice and third 2WD.

In 2019 Stratford stepped up to a full VRC campaign, but suffered a series of engine issues resulting in non-finishes. With little chance of a good outright result in the VRC, the team focussed on class results and managed to win the P2 Class, score fourth in the 2WD category, and finish the VRC in 9th outright.

The highlight of 2019 for the team was the combined VRC and ARC round at the Eureka Rally. The team finished third 2WD and was the fastest 2WD on the final stage.

The team is looking forward to trying out the Fiesta as they head to Batemans Bay next week for the Rally of the Bay on July 4th.

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Bumper field lining up for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay

By News, Rally of the Bay 2020

Over 80 entries have so far been received for the 2020 AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, just two days after entries were officially opened by the Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor, Liz Innes.

The event has a maximum field of 90 and with many outright contenders on the list, the rally is going to be a spectacular opening to the rally season for 2020.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic forcing event organisers to cancel their events earlier in the season, the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will be the first opportunity rally teams will have to get their cars back into the forest.

The rally is the first round of the MTA NSW Rally Championship and the ACT Regional Rally Series, however there are also many Australian Rally Championship teams using the event as a test before their first championship round gets underway later in the year.

The list of outright contenders is headed by the Factory Toyota team of brothers and team-mates Harry and Lewis Bates in a Toyota Yaris AP4.

Nathan Quinn is a former Australian Rally Champion and the 2019 East Coast Classic Rally Series winner. He will be lining up to take on the Toyota Team in a Lancer EVO 10 and with his recent win at the Alpine Rally late last year, he is one of the favourites to win.

Another contender for outright victory is Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt in a Ford Fiesta G4. The pairing from Sydney have won the event for the past two years and are looking to make it three in a row.

In the MTA NSW Rally Championship, Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO are favourites, but they will have last years two-wheel drive champions, Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell snapping at their heels in a Citroen DS3.

Darren Windus at Last Years Rally of the Bay
The Activ Rallysport Team from Melbourne is sending a contingent of drivers including JJ Hatton and Troy Dowell, both driving Hyundai i20 G4’s. They will be joined by father and son Darren and Arron Windus, who will both be driving in Subaru WRX’s.

Classic rally fans are also in for a treat with the welcome return of Tom Dermody in a Ford Escort RS1800, Clay Badenoch in a Toyota Celica RA40 and Mal Keough in an Audi Quattro S1 set to headline the East Coast Classic Rally Series.

The 2020 AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will take place in the Forests surrounding Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast on the 4th of July. A full unseeded list of the current teams entered follows.

1 Taylor Gill / Peter Harris – Subaru WRX 1999
2 Bethany Cullen / Mel Mcminn – Mitsubishi Evolution 6.5
3 Tony Sullens / Kaylie Newell – Citroen DS3
4 Graham Wallis / Brian Ward – Peugeot 309 GTI
5 Mitch Garrad / Taylah Murphy – Hyundai Excel
6 Chris Higgs / Daymon Nicoli – Mitsubishi Evo 6
7 Michael Stewart / Matthew Portus – Subaru WRX STI
8 Riley Walters / Jeffery Williamson – Subaru WRX
9 Adrian Stratford / Kain Manning – Ford Fiesta
10 Andrew Carrigan / Larisa Biggar – Mitsubishi Magna
11 Arron Windus / Arron Windus – Subaru Wrx Sti Gc8
12 Ben Vanzyl / Nadine Bucher – Hyundai Excel
13 Michael Ward / John Fraser – Toyota Corolla TE37 Levin
14 Brian O Neill / TBA – Ford Escort 1978
15 Chris Stilling / TBA – Datsun Stanza
16 Brian Newton / Ryan Price – Honda EG6
17 Tristan Carrigan / Neill Woolley – Alfa Romeo 147
18 Craig Jarvie / Aidan O’halloran – Holden Commodore
19 JJ Hatton / Nathan Long – Hyundai i20
20 Phil Thomas / Phil Thomas – Ford Escort Mk2
21 Mark Wills / Kam Baker – Subaru WRX STI
22 Matthew Ruggles / Matthew Ruggles – Triumph TR7 V8
23 Clay Badenoch / TBA – Toyota RA40
24 Andrew Penny / Rhys Llewylln – Subaru Impreza
25 Nathan Quinn / Ray Winwood-Smith – Mitsubishi EVO X
26 Troy Dowel / Bernie Webb – Hyundai I20
27 Veronica Stack / Jason Browne – Hyundai Getz
28 Mal Keough / Andrew (Pip) Bennett – Audi Quattro S1
29 Tim Joass / Peter Joass – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2
30 Paul Brennan / Paul Bailey – Subaru Legacy RS
31 Ron Moore / Jo Moore – Mitsubishi Evolution VI
32 Charlie Drake / Lachlan Drake – Mitsubishi EVO
33 Dean Mullen / Paddy Kelly – Hyundai Excel
34 Ryan Williams / Brad Jones – Mitsubishi Mirage
35 Ron Mckinnon / Steve Mckinnon – Lancer LA
36 Joel Wald / Tony Robinson – Datsun Stanza
37 Harry Bates / John Mccarthy – Toyota Yaris AP4
38 Lewis Bates / Anthony Mcloughlin – Toyota Yaris AP4
39 Robert Burke / Matthew Burke – Toyota AE71 Corolla
40 James Price / TBA – Ford Escort MKII
41 Michael Curtin / Pierce Lennon – Datsun 1600
42 Peter Dimmock / Leigh Brimson-Pierce – Ford Fiesta
43 Richie Dalton / Dale Moscatt – Ford Fiesta G4
44 Stuart Collison / Lance Arundel – Subaru WRX STI
45 Thomas Dermody / Eoin Moynihan – Ford RS 1800 Escort
46 Darren Windus / Joe Brick – Subaru WRX
47 David Stephens / Lynda Leigh – Subaru WRX
48 TBA / TBA – Hyundai Excel
49 Sean Mc Aloon / Sean Mc Aloon – Escort Ford
50 Peter Thompson / Ken Hind – Toyota Celica RA23
51 Jake Bramble / TBA – Datsun 1600 1968
52 Terry Gunter / Stephen Newell – Ford Escort Mk2
53 Tom Clarke / Ryan Preston – Mitsubishi Evo 9
54 Brett Wright / Rob Edwards – Datsun Bluebird
55 Russell Dixon / Jack Dixon – Subaru Liberty
56 John Sparkes / Nigel Walters – Nissan Silvia
57 Clayton Hoy / TBA – Mitsubishi Evo 6
58 Joshua Hilton / Rodney Vanderpoel – Toyota Corolla
59 Richard Carter / TBA – Datsun Stanza
60 Aaron Casmiri / Sam Hill – Mitsubishi Mirage
61 Geoffrey Holloway / Richard (Rick) Hood – Hyundai Excel
62 Marco Jansen / Cameron Mcintosh – Vw Polo
63 Richard Houghton / Andrew Houghton – Subaru Wrx Sti
64 Timothy Reynolds / Lachlan Reynolds – Datsun 180B
65 Nicola Testa / TBA – Nissan 240RS
66 Nick Seymour / Ogi Jovanovic – Ford Fiesta
67 Chris Giddins / Katie Giddins – Mitsubishi Evo IX
68 Mark Fitton / Carol Fitton – Holden Commodore
69 Dennis Stanford / Timothy Woods – Nissan Stanza
70 Hilary Evans / TBA – Datsun SSS 1600
71 Chris Vanzyl / Michelle Chard – Hyundai Excel
72 Simon Jamieson / Luke Jamieson – Mitsubishi Evo 7
73 Mick Patton / TBA – Mitsubshi Evo 10
74 Michael Valantine / Timothy Valantine – Datsun 1600
75 Peter Ewing / Anna Ritson – Volvo 240
76 Mike Behnke / Ellie Yates – Honda Civic
77 Luke Anear / Andy Sarandis – Ford Fiesta
78 Katrina Dunn / Peter Dunn – Subaru Sti Spec C S204
79 Richard Knight / Russell Hannah – Datsun 510
80 Gavin Croker / Brad Fitzgerald – Mitsubsihi Evo 3
81 Stewart Reid / Jennifer Cole – Ford Escort Mk2


For more information, please contact:
John McCredie – Media and Public Relations Manager on 0413 042 763 or email
Brett Middleton – Club President on 0408 261 043 or email