Gippsland Rally builds on previous success

Boisdale, Sunday 27 August. Photo: Nishimachi Photography.

Round Four of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally (August 25 – 27), has built on its previous year’s high level of success.

Based in Heyfield with competitors driving through the forests north of Cowwarr to Glenmaggie, and Briagolong to Stockdale, the event kicked off with a ceremonial start Rally Show at the Port of Sale.

The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Steve Dimopoulos joined Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye and President of Motorsport Australia Andrew Fraser in flagging away the strong 50+ field of Australia’s fastest rally drivers at the ceremonial start. Hundreds of people gathered to admire the rally machines, meet the drivers and co-drivers and witness the beginning of the rally.

Clerk of Course Andrew Roseman enthused, “Port of Sale was buzzing with excitement, and it was great to see so many locals interacting with the crews. It also gave us the opportunity to acknowledge the support we receive from the Wellington Shire and Victorian Government and our event partners that enables us to run this event.

“The popularity of the weekend highlights the popularity of rallying and motorsport in the wider Gippsland community.”

Over 4,000 spectators attended the rally over three days, with as many as a thousand people at a time at the Cowwarr Weir spectator point. Spectators enjoyed the amazing speed of the rally cars, enjoyed lunch cooked onsite by Heyfield Pizza and Takeaway, coffee from Just Another Barista, and kicked back in The Middle of Everywhere Lounge.

Thousands attended the rally.
Photo: Tom Carroll

At Gordon Street Recreation Reserve the rally operations and teams set up their service operations. The Sonax Car Wash crew of Heyfield Primary School and the Sonax Australia team washed the rally cars before they entered the service park. The technicians had the mud out of the way so they could concentrate on servicing their cars within the 30 minutes allowed

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was provided by Heyfield Football Club, and this was complemented by Koffee Cup’s all-day coffee service. On Sunday morning, the teams headed out to Boisdale for a blast around the Boisdale Hill Climb Track before driving out to the forests north of Briagolong and Stockdale for more competitive stages. The spectator point at Kennedys Flat was alive with Wheely Good Pizzas’ wood fired pizza, egg and bacon rolls, coffee and other food. The strong sized crowd saw some of the fastest action as the rally drivers tried to make up time and challenge their competitors.

Back at Boisdale, the Hill Climb Track hosted the EROAD Power Stage to end the rally in dramatic form. Drivers were desperate to score the extra point available for the stage win and the challenging stage was too much for some. Daniel Gonzales hit a tree in spectacular fashion and others missed crucial turns. Ultimately it was the neatest but most committed risk takers Harry Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor who took the stage win.

Gippsland Rally said it was their biggest event yet. Photo: Nishimachi Photography.

Mr Roseman thanked the 250 volunteer officials who helped make the event happen.

“It takes meticulous planning over eight months to deliver this event which culminates with a core group of officials working tirelessly for three days setting up for the event ready for competition and spectating,” he said.

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Steve Dimopoulos speaks with Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye. Photo: Nishimachi Photography.

“It was incredible to see so many enjoying the spectacle of the EROAD Power Stage at Boisdale Hillclimb track and thanks to the Maffra and District Car Club for their support.

“Victoria certainly didn’t disappoint with four seasons in two rally stages this year, from thick fog to rain soaked slippery clay based roads that added to the challenge this year, as the first endurance round of the championship.

“Our event is like no other with competition set in the foothills of Victoria’s alpine region, and who knows whether we may see snow in 2024?”

On Thursday August 24, a number of teams completed testing in the forests near Stockdale. Photo: Nishimachi Photography.