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2021 AMSAG Rally of Orange
Orange turned on almost perfect weather and conditions on May 8 for the first round of the 2021 Pipe King Southern Cross rally series, organised by the Australian Motor Sport Action Group (AMSAG). Rain in the few days before the event meant that there was almost no dust but it hadn't wet the roads enough to make them too slippery.
As in previous years the rally was based at the Towac Park racecourse which provides more than enough space for the service park and easy access to Canobolas State Forest where the action took place.
Spectators were allowed after a year of COVID-19 restrictions. The size and layout of the forest limited the places which were feasible for spectator control, but the three places chosen were easy to get to and provided a good view of some spectacular action.
And spectators are back after the COVID hiatus!
The size of Canobolas State Forest puts restrictions on how rallies can be conducted there, but these restrictions can be overcome without diminishing the fun or competition. The event was run over nine competitive stages (three run twice, one three times) for a total competitive distance of just over 185 kilometres.
49 cars started, with 26 counted as official finishers. The high dropout rate could have been because competitors (and their cars) were out of practice because of the limited number of rallies over the last twelve months. Most retirements seemed to be suspension or drivetrain problems caused by hitting some of the rather large rocks on the course. One competitor had three tyres destroy themselves in the first special stage for no apparent reason (the first one came off the car after six kilometres, right where I was standing) and the other just went flat; I assume they will be using a different brand next time. The best excuse for withdrawing was "Noise level too excessive", but where the noise was coming from is a mystery.
This event was cancelled in 2020, but the 300 or so people who came to Orange for the weekend (crew, officials, spectators, …) welcomed its return and look forward to future years.
The next round of the Pipe King Southern Cross series will be at Bulahdelah on June 26.
Information about this and other events can be found at https://www.amsag.com.au
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