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Rally organisers also focus on future Australian events

Organisers of the National Capital Rally are eager to ensure Australia's premier rally car drivers don't wait five years for a return visit.

For the first time since 2008, this weekend's National Capital Rally will double as the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship.

More than 70 drivers across five divisions will tear around more than 190 kilometres of dirt terrain, starting with Friday's prologue at Bluetts Forest. The main event begins on Saturday with the first of 13 stages over the two days taking in Laurel Camp and Kowen Forest.

Emerging Welsh star Elfyn Evans headlines a quality field for the first event of the ARC calendar.

The Brindabella Motor Sport Club is running the rally, which is in its 18th year, but up until this year has been a state championship.

Clerk of the course and club official Adrian Dudok said the BMSC was prepared for the event to run at a loss for the step-up to the championship, but was confident a naming-rights sponsor would come on board.


''The club will take a reasonable financial hit over this, but we knew that going into it,'' Dudok said.

''It's not just a one-off. It depends on the membership of the club if they're prepared to gamble again for next year, but we'll argue strongly to have another go and recoup the money we've lost this year.''

Coates Hire, Ricoh and The Tradies are among companies to have provided in-kind commercial support for the event.

Besides the 18-strong field in the opening round of the championship, other divisions include the classic rally challenge, the 4WD national rally series, the NSW and ACT rally series and the SxS rally challenge.

Evans is the star attraction.

The 24-year-old, the son of former world rally car driver Gwyndaf Evans, is earmarked for a bright future in the elite circuit after winning last year's academy series. ''The start list is probably the best for an ARC in two years,'' Dudok said.

''The champion will come solely from a two-wheel drive vehicle; no longer will the four-wheel drive turbos dominate.

''When that decision was made two years ago it was a gutsy decision, but that decision's been vindicated by the entries we're now getting.''

A ceremonial start will be held at Garema Place in Civic at 4pm on Friday.