Drivers' energy on the start line was fuelled by the anticipation of this year's Rally of the Bay on Saturday, July 4.
COVID-19 had put the brakes on training and this year's rally events, making drivers go stir-crazy waiting for the season to start.
Bega MP Andrew Constance flagged-off the rally in excitement for the region's first major event since the pandemic.
North Shore Sporting Car Club vice president, John Thomson, said it was also the nation's first rally since coronavirus.
"There's almost a full field of 90 cars, which is incredible," he said.
"We haven't had field like that in rallying for 15 or 20 years. It's really a testament to the fantastic locality, the great roads, coastal scenery and the way we're welcomed by the people of Batemans Bay."
The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay has been held in the shire's forests for the past 30 years and the roads were in "terrific condition".
The nation's leading drivers also entered the event "to get match ready" for the Australian Rally Championship season ahead.
Spectators were not encouraged this year, although some stood at infamous corners to get a glimpse of the action.
Media crews and COVID officers covered each stage. The rally action and live results were shared online throughout the day.
A serious afternoon crash caused delays to the final River Road stage which started after dark.
Media manager John McCreedie said medical vehicles attended the scene after Victorians Chris Aggenbach and Les Adams crashed in special stage 5.
He said co-driver Aggenbach sustained injuries to his collarbone and fingers, and was to undergo surgery in Canberra this week.
Pressed for time, a decision was made to cancel special stage 6.
Mr McCreedie said a number of spectators were scattered along River Road for special stage 7.
"The course car was sent out twice for safety as lots of locals came out to watch," he said.
Canberra's Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy celebrated the victory.
"I had an incredible day of rallying; the roads around Batemans Bay are some of the best I have competed on in Australia," he said.
"They're very challenging and tricky, which is why so many people came unstuck, but for me, it's my type of roads.
"I had an awesome time back in the car."
Bates was in the Toyota Yaris AP4 rally car that also took him to victory in the 2019 Australian Rally Championship.
"I would love to have more time to do the Bay rally each year, but it normally clashes with other championships," he said.
"It would me my dream for the Bay rally to become a round in the Australian Rally Championships."
The 25-year-old was kept on his toes by younger brother Lewis Bates.
"He was very close to me in the morning, I thought this could be a really tight competition, so I pushed real hard in next few stages," he said.
The Bates brothers have a special bond, always pushing each other to be their personal best.
"As long as we're getting the most out of ourselves, we can get the most out of each other and we are both improving," Bates said.
Rally of the Bay top results by the North Shore Sporting Car Club
Harry Bates and John McCarthy took the win convincingly over teammate and brother Lewis Bates with co-driver Anthony McLoughlin.
Bates led from the start, winning every stage, and ending the event with a one minute and twenty second margin over the other Toyota Yaris AP4, driven by Lewis Bates.
"It's been a really good day," Lewis said.
"It's good to be back in the car, it's been nine months since we've done a rally. We've got a bit of homework to do to catch Harry, but we've had a solid day and we're happy with second."
On the third podium position was Victorians Darren Windus and Joe Brkic in a Subaru WRX STi.
Windus was battling with his son Arron for outright positions when the younger Windus went off the road in special stage 4.
"We've had an absolute gem of a time," Windus said.
"It's probably a good result by the look of it today too, so that makes it all worth it."
In the East Coast Classic Rally Series, Mal Keogh and Andrew Bennett came out on top to win the Classic section by almost 4 minutes in an Audi Quattro S1.
Keogh also finished well in the outright results with eighth place.
The two-wheel drive victory went to Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell in a Citroen DS3.
Whilst the front wheel drive car is at a disadvantage against its four-wheel drive counterparts, Sullens drove the small pocket rocket into sixth outright.
"Wow, is all I can say," Sullens said.
"It's the best field we've ever seen in a state rally in the history of Australia I reckon, and a top six I'll take any day.
"I've driven as fast as I've driven in all my life today and I'm really happy and rewarded. I've found new levels of comfort with the car, so it's good."
The next round of the MTA NSW Rally Championship is the Caves Classic Rally on September the 5th in the Oberon district.
To see all results, CLICK HERE.