The 2017 CAMS Australian Rally Championship is close as can be as Australia's best rally teams prepare for the fourth round at Lightforce Rally SA in September.
Eli Evans will contest his second ARC round in his new AP4 Mini. (Photo: Peter Whitten)Just three points separate championship leaders, Toyota Genuine Parts Harry Bates and John McCarthy from Subaru Do Motorsport's Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes.
With two championship rounds still to run, Coffs Coast Rally Team's Nathan Quinn remains in striking distance in the championship hunt, sitting in third only 46 points off the lead.
The CAMS ARC has had it all in 2017-the three-way fight between Bates, Quinn and Eli Evans at the Eureka Rally in Victoria and the see-sawing battle between Bates and Taylor at the Forest Rally in Western Australia as the pair traded stage wins in heat one has had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Mechanical failures have unfortunately played a part also, with Bates and McCarthy forced to limp to the finish in WA and Quinn clawing his way to a solid result at the National Capital Rally in Canberra only to have all the hard work come to nothing when an electrical issue after the last stage stopped him from making the final control and claiming his hard earned points.
Evans and co-driver Glenn Weston have been the pace setters at times in the early rounds, however a concrete water tank stopped them in their tracks literally at Forest Rally WA.
The pair debuted the new Mini Cooper AP4 at the National Capital Rally, their time coming to grips with the new car and a subsequent component failure in heat two has all but cost them a chance in the 2017 championship.
Molly Taylor lies second in the championship after three rounds. (Photo: Peter Whitten)Three stage wins in its debut in Canberra however tells us that the Mini, with Evans at the wheel, will be a contender for the rest of this year and into 2018.
Solid performances by the likes of Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver, Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell and Andrew and Kirra Penny sees them still in touch with the top four and not to be discounted.
The Australian 2WD Classic Rally Challenge continues to be a favourite with the spectators; they love the unmistakable sounds of classic rally cars roaring through the forests.
Trevor Stilling has streaked away to a huge lead in the championship in his Datsun Stanza and will prove to be difficult to beat from here. Grant Walker and Luke Sytema were dominant at the Eureka Rally in their pair of BDG Ford Escorts and Andy Van Kahn grabbed a swag of points at the Forest Rally in his Toyota Corolla TE27.
In the Australian 2WD Rally Championship Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney have a solid lead over Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin, the pair from NSW getting the job done in their Mazda RX7.
New for 2017, the ARC2 class encourages state competitors to make the step up into the ARC; after four rounds, the top three eligible 2WD and 4WD teams receive free entry to Kennard's Hire Rally Australia and a set of MRF tyres to do battle in a winner-takes-all final on the world rally stage.
Tony Sullens, Brad Markovic and John O'Dowd are in the box seat in the 4WD category, and Nathaniel Dillon, Lewis Bates and Ross Allen are looking good in the 2WD category.
However, Lightforce Rally SA could shake up the point score, with a number of competitors using this round as one of their two nominated events to count; ARC2 will go down to the wire.
- Series press release
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