He may have swapped his V8 Ford Mustang for a more sedate Subaru, but Supercars Championship driver, Chaz Mostert says he is under no illusions as he embarks on the Kidney Kar Rally.
Over 40 vehicles, drivers, co-drivers and navigators left Port Macquarie Racecourse on Saturday morning on a nine-day driving odyssey to raise much-needed funds for Kidney Health Australia.
The $500,000 target was within reach as the cars and the support crews were flagged out.
Chaz admitted he was unsure about rallying but was looking forward to raising funds for the cause.
"The biggest difference will be the unpredictability of the drive and the course," he said.
"As a V8 driver, you have six corners and up to 25 corners to navigate, then you reset and the start the lap again.
"So I'm pretty excited about getting involved in this event. And it is also a great cause," he said.
Biante Model Cars is the major sponsor of the event for the past 10 years.
Owners Ken and Kath Dowmie got involved because they wanted to help people and believed the Kidney Health Australia needed the funds.
"We support this event because we enjoy getting involved and helping people," Kath said.
"Kidney Health Australia and the Kidney Kar Rally deserve a higher profile and we are more than happy to get involved and help out where we can.
"They do a fantastic job for kids right across Australia."
Kath said one in three people are likely to suffer from kidney troubles in their lifetime.
"Many are unaware they even have the disease," she added.
Ken said drove in his first rally 10 years with a mate and the couple eventually purchased a Mercedes to drive.
They were instantly hooked.
"We have tripped around Australia, enjoying ourselves, having fun and helping people," he said.
"It is frightening to see what these young kids experience through kidney disease."
The couple also praised the fundraising efforts of country towns.
"Despite everything, the downturn in retail, the drought, everything, people in country towns just continue to contribute to a good cause," Ken said.
Mayor Peta Pinson officially flagged off the 42 cars and support vehicles involved in the rally on Saturday morning.
The rally takes in some of the more challenging back roads to Rockhampton and back to Armidale.
The nine day route will take in the beautiful and rugged NSW and Queensland countryside, stopping along the way at Port Macquarie, Walcha, Uralla, Goondiwindi, Dalby, Miles, Moura, Rockhampton, Monto, Gayndah, Jandowae, Toowoomba and finishing in Armidale on Saturday 17 August.
Chief executive officer of Kidney Health Australia, Chris Forbes, said the rally was all about 'big kids helping little kids' by raising vital funds for kids living with kidney disease.
"Our target this year is $500,000 but we'd love to smash it - the more funds we get, the more we can pour into programs to help children and young people deal with the physical, emotional and psychological impacts of kidney disease," he said.
"We've had fantastic support from the rally drivers for the past 31 years, raising over $15m in total, and helping countless kids from all over the country deal with the daily challenges of living with this debilitating disease.
"Alarmingly, 65 people die with kidney related diseases every day, and currently 1.5 million Australians are unaware they have early signs of the disease.
"So, the rally is a great platform to connect with and educate local communities about kidney disease and the importance of prevention, early detection and support," Mr Forbes said.
For more details about the Kidney Kar Rally or to donate to teams taking part visit the website.
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