Rally: local crews eye podium finish at Forest Rally

LOCAL rally driving crews will be looking to knock interstate rivals off the podiums in this month’s Forest Rally in the South-West.

Lesmurdie driver Brad Markovic with co-driver Toni Feaver, of Byford, and Gooseberry Hill’s John O’Dowd with Perth co-driver Kenneth Shiel will be leading the charge of WA drivers, along with Cannington’s Dylan King and Abbey Hayes, of Floreat.

More than 50 crews will contest the April 21-23 rally, the second round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC), through the forests of Nannup and race the electric Busselton Super Special Stage under lights around the foreshore.

Canberra driver Harry Bates and his Queensland co-driver John McCarthy head into the event leading the ARC, following victory at the Eureka Rally in Ballarat last month.

However, they will have to fight against a strong field of contenders to get their maiden Forest Rally victory.

Reigning ARC champions Molly Taylor, from Sydney, and Bill Hayes, of Maida Vale, will also be looking to record their maiden victory over West after taking Heat One honours at the event in 2016 before finishing just off the podium on Sunday in fourth.

Former ARC champions Eli Evans, of Victoria, and Queenslander Glen Weston will be behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper AP4, which is making its debut in the Australian forest.

Nathan Quinn, joined by East Victoria Park co-driver Ben Searcy, will return to the West from NSW for the first time in 10 years, while the Tasmanian-Victorian combination of Marcus and Scott Walkem will do the Forest Rally for the first time.

“With the injection of drivers like Harry and Molly into the ARC over recent years, as well as series champions like Eli and wildcards such as Nathan – who we saw stand on the podium in Victoria, we are going to see some very competitive racing out in the forest,” event director Ross Tapper said.

“With some new cars and drivers who are relatively inexperienced competing on the unique ball-bearing roads of WA there will be plenty of action to catch over the weekend.”

Other events running over the weekend include the WA Rally Championship, the WA Clubman Masters and WA Clubman Cup categories.