Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt have taken out the biggest Rally of the Bay in recent memory, as 70 cars took part in the prestigious event.
Dalton and Moscatt were a class above in their 2016 Skoda Fabia R5, as they completed the nine stages in one hour, nine minutes, and nine seconds, almost three minutes quicker than second-placed Glen Brinkman and Harvey Smith’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
JJ Hutton and Nathan Long (Lancer Evo 9) rounded out the podium in a time of 1:12:26.
Matt Thompson and Mike Behnke won the Bay Classic in their 1974 Datsun 180B, and Daniel Smiles and Chris Vernon won the Bay Meander in a 1996 Subaru WRX.
Tathra’s Ben Barker was the best placed of the South-Coast competitors, finishing sixth overall in a time of 1:13:42.
It was a mixed bag for the other South-Coast based teams, as only two of the other four teams finished the race.
Tomerong’s Ron and Stephen McKinnon finished 35th overall in the Rally of the Bay, while Moruya Heads’ Peter Thompson finished sixth overall in the Bay Classic with Ken Hinds.
Moruya’s James Price and Nelligen’s Nick Sandilands failed to finish stage three of the race, while Bermagui’s Jarra McKay-Collins and River Gunn pulled out before the race started.
Event spokesman Jon Thomson said the day ran without a hitch.
“We’re thrilled with the result,” he said. “The fact we were able to attract 70 cars to the town, including 15 crews from Victoria, was a great success.
“We haven’t had a field like that in the last 10 or 15 years. It was fantastic to see such a variety of cars as well.”
The increase in entrants coincided with an increase in stages, as there were three extra stages this year.
“We’d always planned for it to be nine stages,” Mr Thomson said. “We think that helped out with the amount of cars, the extra stages were a draw for the competitors.
“The guy who won it said the roads were fantastic. He’s contesting the New Zealand Rally Championship this year, and he said these roads are as good as any over there.”
Although there were some community concerns regarding the night stage along Runnyford Road, Mr Thomson said there were no reports of injured wildlife during the rally.
“We were very conscious of the concerns of some residents,” he said. “We paid particular attention to Runnyford Road with set up and clean up, and throughout that whole stage we didn’t find one animal dead or injured.
“We had extra sweep cars in the event, so from that regard we’re pleased that we could deliver an event without injuring any wildlife.”
Planning will now get underway for the 2019 event, which will see a new clerk of course, as Ian Bigg is stepping down next year.
“We’ve got a committee meeting next week, so we’re straight back into it,” Mr Thomson said. “We’re looking at having it around the same date as this year.
“Ian is stepping back next year. He’ll still be involved in some capacity, but we’ll have someone step up to fill his role.”
Mr Thomson said the decision to come back to Batemans Bay every year was an easy one.
“We always look forward to coming to Batemans Bay and being part of the community,” he said. “There’s probably no finer place for a service park than Corrigans Reserve.”