IN a homecoming of significance, Grafton-born rally driver John Spencer is relishing the chance to return to the forested tracks of the Coffs Coast for the ultimate dust-up.
Contesting the World Rally production car class and the ARC Forest Rally, Spencer and his Good Year Autocare crew are flying the flag for Australia.
Teaming up with accomplished navigator John Goasdoue, Spencer, now based out of Brisbane, will challenge for podium honours in his 4WD turbo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
"It's a rally of firsts in many respects for us. It's the first time I've raced this particular car, which I bought especially for Rally Australia and it's also the first time I have had John as a co-driver," Spencer said.
"I raced my first rally in Grafton 30 years ago and never thought for one minute the coast would host a round of the World Rally Championships.
"It's an incredible thing to race a World Rally on home soil, definitely an opportunity of a lifetime that only a few drivers get."
As the winner of the Rally of Queensland in 1996, Spencer has paid his dues in the sport as a privateer, revelling in the chance to share the track with the world's best.
"At this level, the highs and lows of rally are amazing.
"When you get a precision corner right in a heavily forested rally like here in Coffs it's such a great feeling.
"But with the slightest overread it all goes wrong very quickly," he said,
"We are looking forward to seeing the stages when we do the recon.
"You've got to say with 100 cars competing someone is going to crash. I just hope we get through unscathed. I couldn't do that to the new car."