On the eve of the 2018 Australian Rally Championship, RallySport Magazine can reveal that the championship has a new outright contender, with Steve Glenney to contest this weekend's Eureka Rally in Ballarat.
A former ARC and Rallycross round winner, and multiple Targa Tasmania champion, the vastly experienced Glenney will take over the reigns of Craig Brooks' Subaru WRX STi at the first round of the 2018 championship.
The late move, confirmed following testing today (Thursday) to put Glenney in Brooks' bright orange WRX comes at the 11th hour, just as crews are about to head out to complete their pre-event reconnaissance ahead of the Eureka Rally.
Yet it's a move that's been under consideration for a while according to car owner, and now team manager, Craig Brooks.
"I'm unlikely to ever win the championship behind the wheel, so it makes good sense to put someone of Steve's ability in the car," Brooks told RallySport Magazine from his home north west Tasmania.
"We've got a very good car, and we've tried to make it the best in the paddock.
"With the way the rules have changed, it's now or never against the faster and lighter AP4 cars.
"Our car is the ex-Molly Taylor ARC-winning WRX from 2016, and the guys have turned it into one of the best PRC cars around.
"We’ve decided to put a top driver in it and see what happens. Our aim is to see if we can win the championship," Brooks said.
Steve Glenney (left) will drive Craig Brooks' Subaru, with fellow Targa Tasmania winner Jason White (right) preparing the car.
In 2017, Brooks contested all rounds of the ARC, missing only the Western Australian round. It was a decision he now rues, admitting that it probably cost him third place in the series.
This year, the car has been updated to 2018 specification, and is even lighter than it was last year, when it was around 100kg lighter than comparable Subarus.
"As an example, we took 25kg of wiring out of the car last year and replaced it with 5kg of wiring," Brooks said.
"They're small gains that will hopefully pay off on the stages."
For the Eureka Rally, Glenney will have the experienced Mike Potter in the co-driver's seat. Potter, also from Tasmania, has previously competed in the ARC in 2016 alongside the fast-paced Eddie Maguire.
Craig Brooks and Steve Glenney in action in the National Capital Rally in 2017.
Despite stepping out of the car and handing the keys to someone else, Brooks says he's feeling good about the decision and that the time is right.
"Last year was my first full year on pacenotes. I had only done three noted events prior to that, in 2007 and 2008," he says.
"After 25 years of competing in (blind) route charted rallies, last year was a steep learning curve. There was a lot to re-learn, and teaching this old dog some new tricks was a big job!
"But I'm ready to step aside and move into the team principle role and watch Steve and our talented crew give the ARC a real crack."
Glenney's assault on the 2018 Australian Rally Championship will be supported by Contel Communications, with support from Subaru Genuine Parts.
The Tasmanian-based team can lay claim to being the fastest crew in the country, headed by experienced tarmac rally driver Pete Nunn as the head mechanic, and multiple Targa Tasmania winner, Jason White, as the fabrication and preparation guru.
The crew are supported by Jamie Vandenberg (another former Targa Tasmania winner), and tarmac and gravel rally winner, Eddie Maguire.
"With Steve and myself in the car last year, the team had something like six Tasmanian Rally Championships, nine Targa Tasmania outright wins, and many other Targa event wins and class wins," Brooks said.
"There were plenty of jokes about me having an 'accident' before the event so someone else could grab the keys!"
Brooks' exciting driving style will be missed in the ARC, but Glenney will be fast too. Photos: Peter Whitten
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