Four locals hit the rally road
AMONG the 78 drivers racing around the Coffs Coast in the Kennards Hire Rally Australia will be four locals testing their skills against the world's best.
Rally fans will be able to give out a loud cheer or whistle when they see cars numbered 68, 81, 93 and 123 go flying past.
Long-time rally enthusiast Bruce McDougall and co-driver Kellie Pearce will sport number 123 on their Daihatsu Charade.
Veteran Mal Keough will drive a Datsun 1600, with Pip Bennett calling out the notes in car number 93.
The 2004 Subaru RS Impreza driven by Woolgoolga's Mark Beard will be number 81 while Nathan Quinn and co-driver Ben Searcy will have 68 featured on the Coffs Coast Rally Team's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Being close to home, driving on roads he knows so well holds positives and negatives for Beard.
When the Woolgoolga Service Centre owner hits the familiar roads on Friday, he'll be trying to forget how well he knows them.
"I noticed a couple of years ago that my co-driver was reading the notes but I was memorising the road and when we came out of the stage my co-driver actually asked me if he did something wrong because the times weren't as good as what we thought," Beard said.
"In the second passing I really concentrated on my notes rather than the road and I was a lot quicker so it can have advantages and disadvantages driving so close to home."
That's great news for co-driver Scott Beckwith, who's calling out the pace notes.
With less than 12km of the 2016 Rally Australia remaining, Beard was in 19thposition overall, the fifth Australian, when a fuelpump issue stopped himfrom reaching the finishline.
Back again in the only four-wheel-drive non-turbo charged car in the field, Beard's hoping for a similarperformance despitegiving up about 150kW and probably 40-50km/h to the WRC and ARC contenders.
"We're down on speed but we'll just keep it going with momentum and reliability," he said.