RACE READY: Rally driver Ian Gough and navigator Ken Long showed off their Toyota Celica TA22 at the opening.
RACE READY: Rally driver Ian Gough and navigator Ken Long showed off their Toyota Celica TA22 at the opening. Monique Preston

Engines rev a rally cracking weekend

THE newest car event to enter the Whitsundays has 'exceeded all expectations' after a weekend of dirt flying success.

The inaugural Whitsundays Festival of Motoring drew competitors from New South Wales to as far north as Cairns to the Whitsundays region including Bowen, Airlie Beach and Proserpine.

Held May 3-5, the first of the Queensland Rally Championships for 2019 had strong attendance with 31 in the P3 Rally and 23 entrants in the Show and Shine event that showcased 29 cars.

Friday night saw the Festival Welcome Party at Abell Point Marina with vintage, restored and modern cars on display.

Rally competitor Brisbane's Gerard McConkey shows off his 1999 Subaru WRX during last Friday night's festivities.
Rally competitor Brisbane's Gerard McConkey shows off his 1999 Subaru WRX during last Friday night's festivities. Monique Preston

People came in droves for the chance to see the rally cars up close and meet the drivers and their teams making the most of the mild May weather.

On Saturday, fans, family and friends made their way to the middle of the canefields near Proserpine to catch all the action of the Whitsunday Rally.

The morning saw more than 40 spectators watch on as the cars navigated a U-shaped turn sending plenty of dirt and dust flying.

The time-based event, covering 120km gave spectators plenty of warning before the next car was approaching with engines heard long before they came speeding past the fans.

Car number 12 racing at the Whitsundays Festival of Motoring Rally Whitsunday near Proserpine on Saturday.
Car number 12 racing at the Whitsundays Festival of Motoring Rally Whitsunday near Proserpine on Saturday. Shannen McDonald

Whitsundays Festival of Motoring event director Lauren Penny said the location of the rally was a major drawcard for many of the crews and supporters.

"The strong appeal of our event came from competitors keen to compete in the region,” she said.

"The festival showcased the Whitsundays' stunning marine landscape, hinterland mining and agricultural communities and the diversity of the entire region.

"By developing a festival of motorsports around the competitive rally rounds, the festival was able to reach the wider sports and leisure community and non-competitive motorsport enthusiasts alike.”

The rally also proved to be popular further north with the Bowen Grand View street stage a highlight of the festival.

"Rally cars came screaming through the streets of Bowen with spectators on the sidelines enjoying all the live action,” Ms Penny said.

Brayden and Blake Wilson racing in  the  rally.
Brayden and Blake Wilson racing in the rally. Shannen McDonald

There were also dirt bike beach sprints, go-kart sprints and motorbike skill demonstrations along Santa Barbara Parade, Bowen all attracting large crowds.

"The spectators watched the dirt bikes which were loud and roaring and then before making their way to view the motorbikes were able to walk through the car displays,” Ms Penny said.

The event came about after the motor festival committee saw a need for a land-based, non-marine focused event the local community could embrace and take pride in.


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