AMSAG Bulahdelah Classic Rally 2020

Rallying finally started again in 2020. Round 1 of the 2020 AMSAG Southern Cross Rally Series was held in the forests around Bulahdelah on July 18. You can see the Supplementary Regulations here.

The rally was run under extraordinary circumstances because of the COVID-19 epidemic that was happening across the world at the time. You can see the Action Plan for the event here.

Bulahdelah has always provided excellent roads for rallies and this year was no exception. There was some concern when a weather formation threatened to drop 200mm of rain in the area in the week before the event, but this just turned into some annoying rain on the day before. The weather was fine on the day, roads were in excellent condition and there was no dust.

Where the rally went.
You can see a better view of the route using Google Earth.

Because rallies had been cancelled or postponed for the previous few months it was no surprise to anyone that a full field of 60 entries was received. There were a few withdrawals close to the start, partly because competitors were prohibited from travelling from their home postcodes, but 52 cars started on the day.

The full list of entrants can be found here.

The original plan was to run the event over seven stages (82km transport, 131km competitive) by two stages run once each, two stages run twice and one stage combining two as the first of two night stages.

Click to see a larger version of the event schedule.

Unfortunately, two incidents during the day requiring medical attention on the course caused a major reorganisation with the deletion of some of the route, but this didn't detract from the rally, just made it shorter. The four crew members were treated by the medical team where the incidents occurred. Three had no serious injuries, and one competitor (Ray Winwood-Smith) was taken to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and found to have broken his sternum and a bone in his lower back. A full recovery is expected but he will be out of action for some time. The medics from Beneficial Safety should be congratulated for their prompt and effective action. We always hope that they will have a boring day doing nothing, but when they are called for they do what they have to do and do it well.

The service park at the Bulahdelah Bowling Club was full of anticipation before the start. I had a wander around taking photos and you can see the results here.

The service park before the start. Click to see the real photos.

The real excitement happens out on the course, so I found a good spot where the map indicated that some useful action would take place in front of my camera. You can see the collection of photos here.

Click to see the real photographs.

Of the 52 starters, 30 were classed as official finishers. This was a rather high dropout rate, which could probably be attributed to the amount of time that had elapsed since the last time that most competitors had driven their cars in anger. You can spend all the time you like preparing a car or thinking about rallying, but you don't really know how things will work out until you let out the clutch at the start of the first stage.

1st Outright Jamie Luff & Brad LuffSubaru WRX
2nd Outright Riley Walters & Jeffrey WilliamsonSubaru WRX STi
3rd Outright Simon Jamieson & Luke JamiesonMitsubishi EVO VII
4th Outright David Darby & Rodney PhillipsNissan 180sx
5th Outright Chris Jaques & Hugh TaylorMitsubishi EVO 9

Click for a larger view of the final results.

Rally Director Michael Bannon and his crew of officials must be congratulated on running such a good event under extremely trying circumstances. Not only did they have to contend with all the additional health and safety requirements brought on by the COVID19 epidemic, but they had to reorganise the event half way through when force majeure and Murphy's Law clicked in simultaneously.

A report on the rally appeared in the Myall Coast edition of News Of The Area on July 23, 2020.

Information about this and other events can be found at

Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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