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The likes of Ross Dunkerton, Neal Bates, Michael Guest, Cody Crocker and Chris Atkinson have all waved the flag for Australian rallying overseas in years gone by, and that tradition continues with Eli Evans, Tom Wilde, Adrian Coppin and Scott Pedder all heading to International events in the next month.
 

“One of the key aims of ARCom (Australian Rally Commission) is to see drivers progress from the very grass roots level of our sport, all the way through the Australian Rally Championship and onto opportunities on a global stage,” explained ARCom Chairman Ben Rainsford.
 
“So to see so many of our drivers being given opportunities to drive overseas during the past couple of seasons is extremely encouraging. It means that the level of skill demonstrated locally is being recognised internationally, and there aren’t too many national Championships that can claim that as a fact,” Rainsford continued.
 
Molly Taylor is a regular competitor in Europe.In a sport where opportunities are traditionally limited, Australian rally drivers have always punched well above their weight, with the likes of Dunkerton, Bates, Guest and Crocker all showcasing their local speed on World and Asia-Pacific level events.
 
Meanwhile Chris Atkinson became Australia’s first fulltime works driver when he ran with the Subaru World Rally Team from 2004 to 2008. Guest too joined forces with the original Hyundai World Rally Team in 2000, while Atkinson currently has a role with the second generation Hyundai team.
 
Molly Taylor, daughter of co-driving veteran Coral, continues to also forge an International rally career. Having relocated to Europe in 2009, Molly has made progress in the British and more recently the World Rally Championships, in both the Pirelli Star Driver and this year’s Junior World Rally Championship.
 
Continuing that tradition leading ECB ARC drivers have featured at International level over the past two seasons, with Brendan Reeves winning the 2WD category in last year’s Rally America series while Adrian Coppin featured in a one-off drive at the European Championship Round in Croatia.
 
“It’s quite remarkable that for such a small population and in a country where sport is dominated by the football codes, that we’ve produced so many top level motorsport drivers, from the likes of Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo to our current crop of rally drivers,” explained Ben Rainsford.
 
“To see the success of Brendan and Adrian last year, and then to see the many exciting opportunities coming up for Eli, Tom, Scott and once again for Adrian is truly exciting. Our drivers are recognised for their speed, skill and professionalism and that continues to open doors overseas.”
 
Tom Wilde has made the step up from the ECB ARC to the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and after only three Rounds that has already lead to an incredible test drive with the Renault factory team.
 
“During New Caledonia we were speaking with the head of Renault Sport from France and he invited us to Scotland to test the brand new Clio,” said Tom. “We literally flew straight from Rally Queensland to Scotland, and we tested the car for a full day with the whole Renault team, it was incredible!”
 
Eli Evans and Adrian Coppin are both putting the final preparations for their upcoming overseas outings, with Eli heading to Estonia to drive in the ERC with the Honda factory team in a Civic R3, while Coppin returns to Europe to drive a Citroen DS3 at the all-tarmac German Round of the World Rally Championship.
 
And overnight confirmation that Scott Pedder will travel to China for the next Round of their national rally Championship, driving a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf for the reigning champion team.
 
“Our speed and result in Queensland (2nd outright in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship) really created that opportunity,” said Scott.
 
“The Australian Rally Championship really does open doors abroad, you only need to look at the list of drivers over the last ten years who have had chances to prove themselves to see that, and even more so in the last 18 months. From Atko to Eli, Adrian, Brendan, Tom and now myself, we really are showing what we can do outside of our own series.”
 
While Australia’s co-drivers continue to star overseas as well with the likes of the highly experienced Glenn Macneall, Dale Moscatt and Ben Atkinson all regularly securing rides with leading international drivers.

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