Tweed heart speed spree

SPEED on Tweed is back on track. For many locals it's the biggest attraction at this weekend's Repco Rally Australia.

Just last year it was feared the sight and sound of historic racing cars scorching the streets of Murwillumbah was lost forever.

However thanks to World Rally Championship organisers, the prestigious event is on the starting grid once more.

“This festival is just too good not to continue,” SoT festival patron Roger Ealand said.

“This marriage ensures not only the future of the fabulous Festival of Speed on Tweed, but will allow drivers to compete on the exact circuit that the Rally competitors will use for their prologue

“It brings a huge financial boost to Murwillumbah and develops a real community pride in presenting the Tweed in such an excellent light.

“I can see it going from strength to strength.”

This year SoT welcomes more than 180 remarkable racing cars and some of Australia's best drivers of past years, who will race against the clock on a one-kilometre temporary circuit through the closed streets of Murwillumbah tomorrow and Sunday.

Over the years SoT has attracted many legendary drivers, including Sir Jack Brabham, Vern Schuppan, Frank Gardner, Jim Richards, Kevin Bartlett, Dick Johnson and John Goss.

Sporting numerous Bathurst winners, Le Mans sports cars and many others that told the story of Australia's motor racing history, it is attracting almost 30,000 spectators a year.

Tomorrow it will be the historic cars against the clock from 8.30am to 3.30pm, before the big boys in the world rally cars race into the evening.

For those who missed it last night, RRA is hosting a “Super Special Stage” of the rally tonight and tomorrow night, with cars starting in Murwillumbah's Main Street and racing on the SoT track in a timed event under lights.

Following yesterday morning's shakedown session, World Rally Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen is confident of maintaining his pace in the RRA.

In the morning's brief run, Hirvonen finished fourth in his Ford Focus while his only real championship rival, French star Sebastien Loeb, set the quickest time ahead of the four-day rally start in the evening.

The Citroen driver completed his best lap in 1m 35.5s, ahead of Spaniard Dani Sordo and the Fords of Federico Villagra and Hirvonen, who clocked 1:36.3.

“Everything has been working very well in the lead-up to the weekend,” Hirvonen said.

“The shakedown went very well; the car feels as good as it did in Finland and when we won there.”

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