Australia loves its rally season. Once rally fever has hit, many feel the need to get behind the wheel of a rally car and have a go. For those who are seriously interested in racing competitively on the rally circuit, there are a few ways to get started.
Aussie Rally Overview
The Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) makes the rules and runs the big competitions, like the Australian Rally Championship (ARC), and sanctions the hundreds of local and entry-level events.
The ARC is a highly competitive race with drivers often battling it out for tenths of seconds. The race runs over tarmac and gravel courses and winds through forests and over mountains. The action is always exciting with cars travelling at high speed, drifting and sliding over challenging roads and trails. This is how many people become hooked on rally racing. It’s just too much fun not to try.
Entry Level Competition Classes
While the ARC competition is for the top names in rallying, dominated by experienced racers, rally racing really has several classes and competitions that acknowledge differing strengths and aspects of the sport. Competitors don’t have to have lots of money or sponsorship to make a name in rally history.
This competition is a way for those without manufacturer support to compete. Appealing to those on a budget who want the thrill of a top-level race, this competition puts reasonable limitations ontyres and fuel.
This two-wheel drive category is another common entry place to begin rallying. The winner of the F16 small car category gets the glory of their name in the ARC record books for all time.
Getting Started in Rally Racing
Beyond ARC, entry-level drivers can choose from hundreds of local off-road motor rally competitions and events based on their own budget and comfort level. Here are the basics of getting started:
A solid first step to learning all the ins-and-outs of rally racing is to of course attend rally races. Even better would be to become an official at a rally event or to be hired on as a service crewmember.
Join a Car Club
Car clubs are one of the best ways to learn about events, cars, drivers, crews, and everything else related to rally racing. Joining a CAMS-affiliated car club hooks enthusiasts up with the rally world and provides the support needed to find rally cars and to race.
Read the Rulebook
One of the first steps towards racing is to read the rulebook. Before building a car, drivers must have knowledge of what is allowed and not allowed to qualify for different classes and competitions. The official rulebook is the CAMS Manual of Motorsport.
Get a Rally Car
Car clubs are a great resource for shopping locally, or the search can be widened using an online site. New drivers will likely want to start off with a 2-wheel drive. While classic rally cars from the 1970s or 1980s, such as the Fiat and the Lancia, are still seen, the dominant cars on the Australian scene today include the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Subaru WRX rally cars.
Get a Co-Driver
Finding a suitable co-driver is one of the keys to success in rally racing. A good co-driver prepares the driver for the course by navigating and calling out turns, obstacles, and conditions. No rally driver ever won without a good partner.
Get Some Driving Training
Not all rally drivers take a training course, but there are so many offered today that new drivers should consider it. A training course might serve to jumpstart their skills.
Get a Rally Licence
There are several levels of licencing to go through to reach the National Rally Licence.
- Level 1 is a basically a one-off trial allowing the holder to compete in a sanctioned event.
- Level 2S is a step up that allows competition in rallysprint and khanacross events.
- The Club Man Rally Licence brings competition up to the state level championships.
- The National Rally Licence is given after an Observed Licence Test at an event and attendance at a CAMS Rally Lecture.
Enter an Event
Drivers should choose whether they want to run on gravel or tarmac, and start with an entry-level event such as the Walky Park Rallysprint Trophy Day. Entering is inexpensive and vehicle requirements are minimal. Entry-level events are often held on gravel surfaces, but there are also many tarmac events such as the Targa Tasmania and the Classic Adelaide.
If the adrenaline of racing through the forest appeals to you, it’s time to find a rally car and join in the fun. With a little effort, rally racing is really a sport for everyone.