Bega Valley Rally organiser Tom Snooks is breathing a big and happy sigh of relief after a flawless running of the 2012 event in the state forests south of Eden.
The massive storm that cut the highway last week was a major concern until last Thursday when the highway reopened and the Victorian competitors could get through, helping bolster numbers to 70 entrants.
“To get those numbers was extremely pleasing,” Mr Snooks said. “In the good old days we’d get around 100 but I think those days are behind us now and to get that many starters this year is very good, especially when the last couple of years we had around the 50 mark.”
Mr Snooks was quick to praise the many volunteers who helped get the different stages prepared after the heavy rains and high winds soaked and blew trees across the road.
“In the end the weather didn’t affect it at all. We had great crews of people going around the course to clear the trees and we had a lot of competitors praising the condition of the roads.
“Most other regions holding this event would have had to cancel, so that’s a great accolade to the Forests NSW crew here who have done a fantastic job in preparing these roads.
“We’re hoping now that the word’s out about how good the roads are, we’ll get more entrants in 2013.”
The added entrant numbers were also a boost for the event’s financial viability with more than 300 people coming into the town as part of the crews or as spectators.
They saw some excellent racing from the best in each state outside the Australian Rally Championship, but it was the Sapphire Coast Classics entrants that caught most attention, particularly local competitors Ben and Pip Barker in their BMW 320i.
“What was extremely pleasing was that we opened the event to the Sapphire Coast Classics because there’s quite a classic movement in the sport, and the Barkers won that by just 26 seconds, so that was a fantastic result,” Mr Snooks said.
Aside from that, the overall rally result turned into a state of origin contest between NSWs Michael South and Julie Boorman, and Victorians Stephen and Glen Raymond. In typical state of origin style, NSW lost, with the Raymonds punting their Toyota Corolla home one minute 26 seconds ahead of the NSW Subaru WRX Impreza.
For results and full colour photos, see page 48.
See our slideshow online at www.edenmagnet.com.au