The Mitta Mountain Rally has been postponed by the joint organisers, the Albury Wodonga & District Car Club and the North Eastern Car Club.
Yesterday there was majority but not full support from competitors, officials and local community to conduct the event this coming weekend. As the impact of this virus escalates, so has the response from the broader community, both globally and locally.
By Friday it is felt that the event would have become so highly compromised that it would not be possible to run an adequate event, let alone the successful one that has been planned.
As disappointing as it will be for many, it is felt that it is better to make this decision now than on Friday night in Mitta Mitta.
Normally events are stopped from running by authorities but in this instance approval has been given and not withdrawn by Motorsport Australia, DELWP or Towong Shire.
Both organising clubs are calendared to run VCRS events in November, so there may be an opportunity to reschedule the event as a joint VRC and VCRS event, and so hopefully still utilise the considerable work, effort and money that has been put into planning the event.
The first lady to win an Australian National Motorsport title, Kate Officer, will follow previous patrons; George Fury, Geoff Portman, Jeff Beaumont and Bruce Garland, in filling a prestigious but some would say somewhat useless role at Mitta this year.
Why have a patron at a rally, you may well ask? The organisers of the Mitta Mountain Rally thought that having an event patron that was a respected elder of the sport would provide a great link between contemporary competitors at the state championship level and older crews and their cars in the Mitta Masters. At a time when women are creating a greater presence in a range of high level sports that have been dominated by men, it is also fitting to acknowledge rallying’s own lady pioneer.
Kate has competed in a couple of Mitta Masters, and been part of the scoring team in two other years. This year, she is not competing, as there has not been enough time apparently to prepare the car after the Alpine.
Kate started rallying in 1976 with Dinta in a Mini Cooper S, an exciting, iconic little rally car, but not so well suited to Australian conditions. The change to a Mitsubishi Colt Galant in 1979 allowed the talent of this crew to gradually shine, taking out the VRC in 1983, the first by a lady and missing out on the ARC by half a point. This was rectified the following year, 1984, when Kate became the
first woman to win an Australian Motorsport title and the first time a husband and wife team won an Australian title. They also found time to cement the relationship by getting married in amongst a busy rally year.
1986 saw a second ARC title for Kate and victory with Dinta in the 7000Km South Australia State Bank Discovery Trial in a Mitsubishi Starion. The pair took on the WRC with a 5th in 1987 and a 4th in 1988 in the NZ round of the WRC, again in the Starion, which has been beautifully restored and run by Brian Shand.
Kate and Dinta were fortunate enough in1985 to compete as part of the Mitsubishi Ralliart team in the first and seven more Wynn’s Safaris, a cross country event that started in Sydney and finished eight days later in Darwin. After a string of solid placings including two second outrights, they broke through for a win in 1992.
In this period Kate managed to have two baby girls, before a turbo 4wd Evo Lancer was acquired in 1993. This made a severe dent in the finances including tackling the 1995 Round Australia, which they lead comfortably until a broken gearbox struck a cruel blow.
A six year hiatus from competition followed until a Historic Rally Car spec Galant was built to tackle the burgeoning Historic events. The Officer’s long distance credentials came to the fore in taking out the 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast event in the Galant. Since then it has been the Alpine and numerous HRA events.
In 2014 Kate and Dinta were inducted into both the Victorian and Australian Rallying Halls of Fame.
Kate will not be competing at Mitta this year, but will be at the event, free to dispense her well earnt wisdom as required, particularly to young lady co-drivers. She will also be interviewed at the post event presentation function about her career and current rallying before presenting trophies, including the Kate Officer Cup to the winners of the Mitta Masters.
Due to the recently announced restrictions on Australian competitors entering the Otago Rally in NZ, and the postponement of the Natcap Rally it has been decided to extend the close date for entries for the Mitta Mountain Rally from 11 March to 8pm Monday 16 March.
Online entries have been re-opened.
Further Regulations and Provisional Start Order will now be issued on Tuesday 17 March.
At this stage the organisers see no reason why the Mitta Mountain Rally should not occur as planned. We have noted the COVOD 19 Update issued by Motorsport Australia at 5pm today which states:
“At this stage, all permits issued remain valid and there is no requirement for events to be postponed or cancelled. All event organisers should also now be aware of the Federal Government’s announcement warning against any public gatherings of over 500 spectators. Given the majority of grassroots events would fall below this number, it should have no impact on club and state level events. Event organisers are of course encouraged to utilise hand sanitisers where possible, and ensure good hygiene practices are encouraged through signage and any communications.”
We have also noted the restrictions on competitors travelling to NZ for the Otago Rally in early April, and are considering an extension of the close date for entries to allow competitors affected by that decision to enter Mitta instead. An announcement on that will be made before the due time for issue of Further Regulations and Provisional Start Order at 8pm tomorrow Sunday 15 March.
Entries close shortly at 8pm today, Wednesday 11 March.
A total of 38 entries have been received so far from the following drivers listed below. If you thought you had submitted an entry and your driver’s name is not on this list, then please get in touch with our Entries Secretary, Deb.
We have received an entry fee from ML and Y Robert which does not correspond to any entry received. We have checked seeding and grading lists here and NSW and have not been able to solve this mystery. No it is not Max Roberts from Bega. If you can help us solve it there is a reward!, so if you have any clues, please get in touch with Deb.
A total of 36 entries have been received so far from the following drivers listed below. If you thought you had submitted an entry and your driver’s name is not on this list, then please get in touch with our Entries Secretary, Deb.
We have received an entry fee from a M. Robert which does not correspond to any entry received. If you can help us solve that little mystery, again, please get in touch with Deb.
While the route for this year’s Mitta Mountain Rally has not been directly affected by recent bushfires, the closure of the Omeo Highway and warnings to stay away from the mountains has severely impacted hotel trading and accommodation venues and all associated businesses in the Mitta valley at Eskdale, Mitta Mitta and Dartmouth.
We can all do our bit by competing in the Mitta Mountain Rally and in so doing support a fire affected community.
While there are awards for crews with drivers aged over 50, 60 and 70, to be eligible for the Mitta Masters, crews do not have to be necessarily old, but cars must comply with Classic C1 or C2.
Last year the young Justin Walker took home the Bruce Garland Cup for first outright Mitta Masters, although he missed out on VRC 2WD, won by Tony Sullens in the front wheel drive Citroen DS3.
Many crews entered in VRC with PRC cars that are older than 30 years would also find themselves eligible to compete in the Mitta Masters. Older Club Rally Cars cannot also be Classic, but any older (more than 30 years) PRC car without a sequential gearbox or fuel injection will quite likely also be eligible under the Classic Categories for the Mitta Masters.
In the past the Mitta Mountain Rally has not required many officials, due to having only four or five no repeat stages and the nature of the country with few access tracks onto the rally route requiring closure.
This year, with two extra stages, each requiring a minimum of eight people for start time control, start line, flying finish and stop point, plus road closures has meant that we have to dig deeper than local resources for officials.
If you would like a pleasant weekend in the so far unburnt North East high country, with some rally spectating thrown in, then please get in touch with our Officials Coordinator, Ray Wingrave on ph 0403932515 or email email@example.com.