Young Victorian Glen Raymond has made the move from a Subaru WRX to an ex-Neal Bates Motorsport Toyota Corolla for his assualt on this year's Australian Rally Championship. caught up with Glen to get his thoughts on the new car and his season to date.

You’ve had two events now with the new car. How has it been compared to the Subaru you rallied last year?

It really is the difference between a purpose built racecar and a hobby built car. Although the 1997 Subaru WRX I had was quite a fast car, it lacked the technical development and money spent on the car that only a manufacturer can provide. As for the driving, by the end of last year the WRX fitted like a glove, however the Corolla still feels foreign to me. With that said, first time in the Corolla I was faster than I ever was in the Subaru!

What are the main differences you’ve noticed between the cars?

Despite them both being all-wheel drive, they do feel very different to drive. The power is very different, with the corolla power dropping off after 4500rpm, but at the same RPM the WRX was only beginning its power. The biggest difference between the car is grip, and hence the speed you can carry into and out of corners. The only thing I can think that was better about the WRX was the sound!

Your first event in the Corolla, QUIT Forest Rally in Western Australia, saw you finish Heat One in 12th outright and Heat Two in 5th outright. You certainly adapted to the new car pretty well. Had you spent much time testing in the Corolla before the Forest Rally, and were you surprised at how easily you adapted?

We only did a short test at Canberra before we picked up the car from TRD. I was stoked to be able to set consistent top five times, despite taking it easy and learning the car. We did have a mishap where the car turned in too well and clipped a rock on the inside of a corner, basically due to the car doing the opposite of what my old car did. When the car was running right, to consistently be rubbing shoulders with the top teams is exciting stuff.

You had a disappointing result in Rally of Canberra when a blown head gasket forced your retirement. How frustrating is it when these things happen after all the hard work you and the team have put in?

As they say, “that’s rallying”, but it still doesn’t make it less heart breaking. It does hit hard when you’re forced to retire early for something out of your control, but you have to accept that unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast.

On another note, thanks to my learning from the CAMS Rally Driver Development Program, I am now able to mentally push through the problems and look towards the finish. Testament to this, amazingly we still came 6th in Heat One despite losing huge amounts of time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your team? I believe many of them are family members.

Our team is made out of family and friends, although the major roles are from the immediate family. My oldest brother Matt is the navigator, another brother Stephen is service crew chief, and my Dad, Roy, is the team manager. It makes it a family affair, but it means we have the respect for each other to share the glory and ask the hard questions when needed.

How difficult is it for a privately run team to fund a full-on assault in the Australian Rally Championship? What sacrifices have you made to live your dream?

To run the Australian Rally Championship is a massive commitment, not only just from the competing crew, but also for everyone involved in and around the team. I have forgone a lot to chase my rallying dream, for example I still live at home and put most of my wage into the car so we can make it happen.

I’ve been lucky to have family and friends help with the car, but you still spend all of your free time working on or organising the car. My brother Stephen and I have spent many late nights in the shed, and without help like this my rallying would be non-existent.

We’ve been lucky this year that Mammi Motors, a mechanical and rally car workshop, from Victoria have generously stepped on board this year and have taken over all of the mechanical work on the car. This has really taken the stress off the team, and it also allows me to work more so I have more money to spend on rallying!

The next event on the calendar is coates Rally Queensland in June. What sort of result are you hoping for?

I’m just hoping for a finish with no troubles! When Matt and I concentrate on our own game and having fun, we drive to our full potential. When I concentrate on my own driving and forget about other competitors, I drive my best.

I am not driving the Corolla anywhere near as hard as I drove the WRX, so I’m hoping to come to terms with the car and be able to push harder. I’m almost excited about possibly not hitting any kangaroos, I’ve somehow hit three in the last three events!

Will you have a chance to do any testing in the car before the event?

For the first time ever, we’ll be doing pre-event testing. I know what the car is capable of, but I’m looking to tweak it to suit my driving style. The aim is to basically get more time in the car, get it suited to my style, and then try and consistently drive it flat out!

Having purchased your car from Neal Bates Motorsport, have Neal and his team had much involvement since you were handed the keys?

Neal and the team have been a great help. Due to the nature of the car we have to rely on TRD for technical support, but they are more than happy to help out. It is definitely a lot easier to pick up the phone than wasting countless hours researching cars like we had to with the Subaru!

What are your rally goals for the next few years?

I’m still really enjoying driving, and still get a thrill out competing. If I can become comfortable in the car and really show our true colours, I would love to be able to climb the leader board. The ultimate dream is to have a manufacturer drive, but regardless, if we continue to enjoy ourselves we’ll be winning either way.

Photos courtesy Hubble Photographix and Glen Raymond.

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