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Perth rally driver John O’Dowd is about to embark on a busy few weeks, with both gravel and tarmac events planned on both sides of Australia. First up is round four of the West Australian Rally Championship, the Wheels on Yirrigan Kumho Tyre Kirup Stages rally. And although last years race over the forestry roads around Kirup was troubled for O’Dowd, he is hoping for a better event this year. “Last year we struggled all event”, O’Dowd commented. “We had a hard landing following a jump on the first stage which damaged the car, and we suffered with throttle problems for the rest of the day. The challenge of these one day events is that if you do make a mistake, with an ‘off’ or if you break something on the car, you’re playing ‘catch up’ for the whole event. There’s no second day to make up time. “I don’t think the pace will be quite as fast as last year, though. With all of the rain that’s been falling in the south-west, and more predicted this week, it’s going to be a very different event. But that may play into our hands a little bit. We’ve just come back from Tasmania where it was wet and slippery, so we’ve had a little bit pre-event practice in the mud.” And although O’Dowd currently has a handy lead in the 2019 WARC title hunt, a second championship is far from assured. “We still have a long way to go in the series, that’s for sure. Craig Rando did a great job at the last round at Boddington, and Stephen Oxley and Ben Searcy will both be back for Kirup. All of these guys are fast and ready to take advantage of any mistakes we make. So I’ll have to be at the top of my game.” The Truck Wholesale WA Skoda R5 returned to Perth last week, and the Race Torque team are currently completing preparations for Kirup. “We got through Rally Tasmania relatively unscaved, so it really just needs a freshen up before the trip to Kirup.” The ‘Wheels on Yirrigan Kumho Tyre’ Kirup Stages is held next Saturday, July  6th, with stages contested on the forestry roads to the east of Busselton.

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