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Scott Beckwith, co-driver for John Berne in this year’s Australian Rally Championship, has rallied all over Australia and in the US and Canada.  He shares his rally experiences with us.

 

 

Name: Scott Beckwith        

Age: 40

Marital Status: Married  

Where do you live?  Brisbane, Qld

Occupation: Business Manager

How many years have you been involved in rallying?  More than I can count.  Got hooked at age 10 – The Rally of the West, the then ARC round in WA came through my home town.  A combination of a night creek crossing spectator point and meeting two people who became my friends and mentors – Jackie Dines and Rod Van der Straaten – sparked my love for the sport.

Are you a driver or navigator/co-driver? Co-driver

What was your first event?    Darling 200, Clubman event in WA in 2002 with Darren Schultz.

Result: 13th outright.

How did you get started in rallying?  From that first event, I went to watch wherever I could, doing controls and road closures, then to service crewing – the best fun being servicing for Jackie at Rally Australia.  Had always wanted to compete, and it was Jackie Dines that introduced Darren Schultz and I, and then mentored me through learning to be a co-driver.

Has there been anyone in particular who was had a big influence on your rallying?  Jackie, her husband Colin and Rod Van der Straaten were the biggest influences.  I got the love of the sport, and the people in it, from them.

How many events have you contested so far? Over 50, combination of state, ARC and international.


What are some of the major events you’ve entered?  Rally Australia in 2006, all recent ARC events, a range of events in the US.


Have you competed in any events overseas?  Spent 12 months living in Denver, Colorado, and had the opportunity for a range of rides.  Did not have a strong run of luck though – of the 10 events entered that year, only finished two!  However, I got to meet a heap of wonderful people – and rallying people are the same genuine and wonderful people there as they are here – and saw a lot of the US/Western Canada as well.  Some fabulous rallying country there!

How do these events compare to Aussie rallies?  Interesting.  The US national championship runs to their own rules, the top cars in the sport are effectively detuned WRC cars.  Only a few FIA recognised categories – Group N being predominant, but not well understood.  There is a push toward more consistency with FIA, with a long term view to encouraging a round of the WRC.  There is a split away group which runs strictly to FIA regs, but it struggles for consistent numbers.

There is a national championship, 10 -12 rounds, when I was there, split 2 West Coast, 2 central (in the Colorado alpine area), and the rest East coast.  There is the same debate there about cost of competing in the full championship, the distances to travel between events, etc.  A wide range of surfaces and character to the events, including one ‘snow’ event (Michigan).  When I was there, Pikes Peak was also run as a round of the Championship, which made for a weird rally, with 5 stages being held over 4 days, mostly very early in the morning to allow for standard tourist traffic (except for the actual event).  Pikes is a fantastic event, and that year rally cars were by far the biggest category represented! Highlight – Stig Blomquist turning up in an 800hp Ford RS200!!

Events themselves do not run to a set format, so you have some starting Friday night, some Saturday, some go all day and night Saturday, some go into Sunday.  Events and formats very much depend upon the views of the event director. They use Jemba mechanically created notes, so no recce, and you buy what are effectively safety notes.  Once you get used to the calls, they are very consistent, and I found them not bad to run on, although you miss the opportunity to see the roads yourself beforehand.

Whilst it is a very small sport in the US, it is a small percentage of a very big population.  This means that events like Rim of The World in California attract 120+ entries!

Best rally result?  Winning two championships in my first year of rallying!  At ARC, 10th outright this year Rally Qld in the Impreza RS!

Most memorable rally:  Mountain Stages in B.C Canada.  Very big crash when leading the event.

Also, Rally Oz last year.  What a blast to compete and finish every stage.  After party was a cracker too!

Any accidents?  A range of minor ones, including soft roll with John Berne in Adelaide 2005.  Most significant one was in Canada as above.  An accident that should not have occurred, I learned a lot from it.  My driver was badly hurt, and I don’t believe he has been able to return to the sport.  One of the real learnings for me was that things that seem secure at scrutiny can rip away from the force of the roll – fire extinguishers for example.

Favourite event:  Forest Rally and Rally South Australia share the honours, both fantastic events, with great roads and well run.

What different types of cars have you rallied in?

Started in a KE Corolla.  In the US, had rides in a Turbo Volvo Sedan, Gp N Prodrive built WRX STI, a Mitsubishi Eclipse (like a Starion, but with Evo III running gear), a Group A Golf, Chrysler Neon, and an Evo 6.  Since returning to Oz, the RS with John, and in Qld the first year in a 323 (the ex-Rallysport News one!), and an STI.
 
Do you have any sponsors?  Team sponsors are Truckmate, Sands Auto and Body and Schultz Auto Electrics.  Personal sponsors are Toll Mining Services and Brighter Ideas Corporate Gifts.

What are your rally plans for the rest of 2007?  Complete all rounds of the ARC, and contributing to the Qld Rally Panel.


Who is your favourite rally driver of all time?  Michele Mouton – I just loved what she did for the sport in her time, and the approach she took to competing.

Any other comments:  Just love this sport and the opportunities it brings to mix with a fantastic bunch of people!


 

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