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Lake Macquarie rally driver, Michael Guest, will tackle the Canberra round of the Australian Rally Championship this weekend, looking to build momentum in his quest for the 2008 national driver’s title.

Guest made his debut with the Pirtek LWR Team in Western Australia in April, taking his Subaru Impreza WRX STI to fourth outright in the opening round of the series, highlighted with an impressive second placing in Heat Two of competition.

The two-time Group N national champion’s performance could have been even stronger in the West had it not been for an off during Heat One. While the mistake cost Guest a podium finish, he and co-driver David Green took plenty of positives out of the weekend.

“No one likes to crease a brand new car so that was disappointing,” Guest said.

“But while the mistake was really costly we got a lot out of the event that will help us for the remainder of the season.

“For a first up event in a new car with a new team and with little preparation time we were pretty happy with the early pace we showed.

“We came home with some good points on Sunday and made Neal (Bates) work pretty hard for his win.

“But we came away knowing that we had to gain around 0.5 seconds a kilometre. That doesn’t sound that much, but it’s a lot in rallying at this level.

“We’ve done some more testing and I’m quietly confident that we’ve made up some of that ground – how much I’ll be able to tell you on Sunday afternoon.

“It is a matter of learning to drive the Subaru because it’s vastly different to the Ford from last year obviously. I’m getting used to more torque in the engine and knowing I can comfortably push the car a little harder.

“There’s no doubt that I feel a lot more confident with the car now than I did at the start of WA a month ago.

Guest sees his key challenges coming from the Toyota’s of Bates and Simon Evans in Canberra. Both know the event particularly well and have been the benchmark in the ARC last season.

“This is the toughest event on the calendar. It’s hard on both cars and drivers. But you need to go out fast right from the start if you want to be at the top of the field at the end of the day,” Guest said.

“It’s a big start. By 10 o’clock on the first morning we’ve done three stages and 56 competitive kilometres, more than half the day’s total.

“So you’ve got no choice but to go as fast as you can on every stage because otherwise you’ll come out of stage three with your chances already blown away.

“I know we have to look after the car, the car comes first, but you are going to have to push hard to beat both the Toyotas.”

The rally takes competitors across 18 stages and 220 competitive kilometres. The Sunday action is a direct repeat of Saturday’s nine stages.

Cars are expected to cross the finish line in the nation’s capital around 3.30pm on Sunday.
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