JJ Hatton is back behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 rally car this weekend, when the sport resumes after the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been a long time between drinks for the Sydneysider, but this weekend’s Batemans Bay based ‘Rally of the Bay’ will finally see him raising the dust against a top class field.
The rally is the first round of the NSW Rally Championship, but with the Coronavirus break this year, it has also attracted the cream of the crop from the Australian Rally Championship.
Hatton will team with regular co-driver, Nathan Long, for the one-day event, but will also have a chance to test the car on Thursday to get back into the feel of things.
“I haven’t driven the car since a test day in Victorian back in February, so it’s been a long time between drinks,” Hatton said.
“I’m super excited to get in the rally car again as, like everyone, I’ve really missed the sport and have done nothing but work over the last few months.”
His Hyundai i20 is based in Melbourne where it is maintained by the Activ RallySport team, which means Hatton hasn’t even had the chance to sit in the car for many months.
“The test day will be really important to get back into the groove of things and see where the car is at,” he added.
“We’ll be testing with the Toyota factory team and a few others, so it will be a good opportunity to fine-tune a few things and get the car dialed in for the Bay.”
Following testing on Thursday, Hatton and Long will spend Friday driving the rally stages and writing their safety notes for the seven competitive stages that will cover nearly 140 kilometres.
Not only will it be great to have rallying back again, but the Batemans Bay region is also eagerly awaiting the arrival of the rally after a horrid 2020. After devastating bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic has really hurt local tourism.
A full field of 90 cars is expected for the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, which has implemented strict safety guidelines to meet the ever-changing needs of the pandemic.
Live results from the Rally of the Bay can be followed at: www.chrissport.co.nz