Dust and a lack of wind conspired to play an early role on Heat 1 of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, in Western Australia today.
The first round of the 2019 CAMS Australian Rally Championship features a new-look competitor landscape – and a new-look Subaru do Motorsport team.
The Orange Motorsport Engineering-prepared All-Wheel Drive Subaru WRX STI finished Heat 1 in fourth place after a modest start on last night’s two quick Super Special Stage runs around Busselton’s Barnard Park.
The two sixth places last night gave little indication of the Production Rally Car (PRC)-class WRX STI’s true potential.
But it was on today’s forest stages outside of Nannup, East of Busselton, that the Rex started to show its capabilities.
Across the four morning stages Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read produced two third and two fourth places, despite the dust hanging heavy in the air.
With the gap between cars increased to three minutes to enhance visibility, confidence levels improved going into late morning service.
The afternoon repeat of today’s longest stage, the 17.85 kilometre Ellis, saw the Subaru duo shave 25 seconds off their morning time – indicative of their growing familiarity with the new car.
The two final short runs around Nannup Oval – at just 0.85 km – made no difference in final placing, giving Subaru do fourth place on heat.
Molly said: “It’s great to be up and running again, and the Orange team have put in a huge effort to prepare the new car to a really high standard.
“The dust was almost like a red fog at times this morning, so we had to be a bit cautious, but the decision to increase the gap to three minutes helped a bit.
“We’ve learned a lot in our first outing with Orange, so we’ll put that to good use in Heat 2.”
Heat 2 gets underway tonight with a further 5.28 km run around Barnard Park.
Five more stages follow tomorrow, across 125.24 competitive kilometres.
The action wraps up with a mid-afternoon podium in Nannup.
HEAT 1 RESULTS – MAKE SMOKING HISTORY FOREST RALLY
1. BATES/MCCARTHY, Toyota Yaris, 55.19.3
2. BATES/MCLOUGHLIN, Toyota Yaris, 55.49.2, +00.29.9
3. WILDE/KIRKHOUSE, Subaru WRX STI, 56.12.4, +53.1
4. TAYLOR/READ, Subaru WRX STI, 56.17.7, +00.58.4
2019 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
- Forest Rally, Busselton, WA – 5-7 April
- National Capital Rally, Canberra, ACT – 10-11 May
- Subaru Rally Tasmania, Launceston, TAS – 21-23 June
- Eureka Rally, Ballarat, VIC – 24-25 August
- Adelaide Hills Rally, Adelaide Hills, SA – 20-22 September
- Rally Australia, Coffs Harbour, NSW – 15-17 November