Passenger's wild ride as car rolls at National Capital Rally launch in Canberra
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Passenger's wild ride as car rolls at National Capital Rally launch in Canberra

One passenger got more than they expected at the launch of the National Capital Rally on Friday morning.

Canberra man Harish Sehgal got the full rally experience when he strapped himself into Tasmanian driver Craig Brooks' passenger seat at the grand opening of the event at the National Arboretum.

A passenger got more than expected with a rollover on the last corner of his hot-lap.

A passenger got more than expected with a rollover on the last corner of his hot-lap.

Photo: Graham Tidy

Some of Australia's best rally car drivers opened their passenger doors and drove hot-laps for various members of the public to kickstart a bumper weekend of racing.

The drivers use the hot-laps as a good chance to warm up and Sehgal found out they weren't holding back on the course.

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Sehgal was strapped into the Subaru Impreza WRX of the experienced Brooks which lost control, rolled, became airborne but eventually came to a stop.

The car tenderly finished the lap unaided and the driver and passenger walked away virtually unscathed. The car wasn't so lucky.

"I'm not going to forget this in all of my life – it's one of the more memorable experiences I'll be telling my kids in the future," Sehgal said.

"My wife is one of the organisers of the event, so I thought I'd just accompany her and get a chance to experience the race."

Sehgal obviously didn't know the extent of the insight he was going to receive, and got a little more than he bargained for.

"I wanted to get a ride. I was thrilled and really excited about it. The event organiser told me it was my lucky day," Sehgal said.

"It just toppled over on the final turn. It was just my lucky day.

"My wife went in it before me, in the same car with the same driver, and nothing went wrong – and then I got in."

The day continued without any further incidents and allowed the public to access the ins and outs of the event and its participants.

The cars raced around the streets of Westside Acton Park on Friday afternoon and are set to begin at 8.30am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday near the Kowen Forest.

The two drivers headlining the event are Adrian Coppin, who finished second at last year's event, and Harry Bates, son of Australian racing legend Neil Bates.

Both Coppin and Bates see it as an opportunity to represent Canberra.

"It's always good to put a show on for your family and your mates – it always adds an extra buzz," Coppin said.

"My family got me into the sport. My dad was a co-driver and mum was heavily involved as a volunteer and organiser. And here we are, 30-odd years later, so it really is great to drive in front of them."

Having the surname Bates may come with high expectations as his father won the Australian Rally Championship five times between 1993 and 2012, but it's a legacy Harry will proudly carry even though he admits he likes to be recognised for his own ability.

Bates is also driving his dad's car that was on the podium all three times in 2007, 2008, 2009 – and which won the championship in 2008, which makes him racing it even more special.

"At the end of the day I'm still my own person trying to do the job. Sure there is a bit of pressure associated with it, but I'm able to brush that aside and all of the pressure comes from myself," Bates said.

"We've had a strong start to 2016. In particular, my aim for this event is to carry that moment and post stage wins, and maybe even get a podium. The Toyota Corolla is built and run by Neil Bates Motorsport and it won the 2008 Australian Rally championship."

NATIONAL CAPITAL RALLY

Saturday: Racing from 8.30am-4pm. Best viewing points at Kowen Settlement and Hybernian-Kowen Forest.

Sunday: Racing from 10am-4pm. Best viewing points at Cottage 5 Paddy's River Road and 5 Ways Paddy River's Road. Podium presentation at Service Park, Brisbane Avenue at 4pm.