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With the withdrawal of Britek from the Australian Rally Championship, former Ford driver Michael Guest has rejoined forces with Les Walkden Rallying for a full-on tilt at the 2008 Australian Rally Championship.

Guest’s return to the LWR fold will also see him reunited with a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, giving Subaru one of their best chances of regaining the ARC crown since they last held it, in 2005.

And just as importantly, Guest’s program will be backed by Pirtek, who had committed to being involved in the ARC until at least the end of the 2008 season.

Guest is no stranger to the Les Walkden Rallying operation. The Launceston-based team took him to the Group N national title in 1997, also in a Subaru.

Since then, the LWR team has won many titles, in 2006 adding the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship honour to its impressive list of championship titles and event victories.

Team owner, Les Walkden, is looking forward to being back in the ARC after a two year absence.

“Michael Guest is a class act and I’m pretty sure that we can give the series a real shake-up this year,” Walkden said.

“We know the car is good. We’ve learnt a lot since Michael was with us over a decade ago, and so has he. Together we’ve got a lot of experience on our side and we reckon we know what it takes to win the outright title.”

Guest finished fourth in last year’s Australian Rally Championship, but more significantly, set a number of fastest stage times. He is one of only a few Australian drivers to have contested the World Rally Championship, and it is this experience that will help make he and Les Walkden Rallying a real contender in the 2008 ARC.

Guest will again have co-driver David Green alongside him calling the pacenotes.

After last year’s full-time return to the ARC, Guest says he’s thrilled that he now has the chance to complete some unfinished business.

“We weren’t in a position to win in 2007, but that will be very different in 2008,” Guest said.

“We started setting a lot of fastest stage times as the season progressed last year, so I know I can still drive fast enough to win, and we’ll have the car and the backing to be able to win heats and events this year.

“The fact that Pirtek has decided to transfer its support to us means a lot to me. You need to have the backing of some loyal supporters to be successful in motorsport. I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have two of those supporters in Pirtek and Les Walkden right behind me this year.

“They want us to be successful as much as we want the success ourselves.”

Pirtek General Manager, Steve Dutton, says the company is looking forward to being involved in the ARC again this year.

“Pirtek was committed to the Australian Championship until the end of 2008, and when the opportunity ended prematurely with Britek, we were delighted that this chance came along,” he said.

“We have had a very strong relationship with Michael as a driver and we’re delighted to be associated with such a successful operation like Les Walkden Rallying.

“We are all looking forward to working together and helping Michael win the 2008 Australian title.”

The 2008 Australian Rally Championship gets underway in Western Australia with the Quit Forest Rally from April 5 and 6.

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