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AMSAG North Coast Rally,
North to Eungai, we go north, the rush is on.
Yes, I really am old enough to remember when Johnny Horton sang a song like that, but the rush was on for the final round for 2020 of the AMSAG Pipeking Southern Cross Rally Series. You can see the Supplementary Regulations for the rally by clicking on the picture at the right.
The original calendar for 2020 had a rally in Orange on this date. Orange is about 100km from my place and Eungai Creek is about 600km away, but it wouldn't be 2020 without inconvenience and disappointment so I packed up the camping gear and hit the road for a bit longer drive. I was most recently in the Macksville area for anything to do with rallies when I was a control official at the Southern Cross Rally in the 1970s, so anything I once knew about the roads and conditions in the area is long gone from my memory. I looked forward to having those memories refreshed.
Based on the service park and rally HQ at the Unkya Reserve, the 2020 North Coast Rally ran in the forests around Eungai Creek and Macksville on Saturday, November 7. The event was organised by the Australian Motor Sport Action Group (AMSAG) and directed by 2017 Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn (who stated after the event that driving in rallies was a lot less work than organising them).
Cancellation of a NSW Rally Championship round the preceding weekend added a few more competitors and a field of 47 cars started the rally. The COVID-19 epidemic this year severely reduced the number of rallies, and competitors were eager to get in as much driving as possible.
The event consisted of eight stages on gravel roads covering 133 kilometres of competitive driving. If you are unfamiliar with the speeds achieved in rallies, the winning car covered the distance in 1 hour and 31 minutes for an average speed of just over 88 km/h. Roads were in generally excellent condition despite a small amount of rain earlier in the week, and the Forestry Corporation must be thanked not only for letting rally cars into the forest but for providing great conditions for the competition.
34 cars were classed as official finishers, with mechanical failure accounting for the majority of the 13 non-finishers. (One car withdrew because they thought there were "too many big humps", but as it was the first ever rally for driver, codriver or car they were allowed to be a bit cautious.) This might sound like a high dropout rate, but the lack of competition during 2020 didn't allow for much real life endurance testing.
Special mention should be made of the Macksville Lions Club who provided food and drinks all day (and even made a special trip during the day to obtain some sugar-free soft drinks) and the medical team from Beneficial Safety who had nothing to do all day except to assist someone (me, actually) who had inhaled part of a sausage sandwich and thought he was choking to death.
Now I'll let the pictures tell the story.
A report on the rally appeared in the Nambucca Guardian on November 10, 2020
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