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Ashlea James’ fulltime return to the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship has become a race against time as he prepares his Volkswagen Polo for the opening round in Western Australia.
 

“There have been some major setbacks with the vehicle preparation, but I’m determined to get to WA and I’ve pulled out all the stops to make it happen,” James said this week from his Victorian workshop.
 
“At the moment I’m spending every waking hour, seven days a week to get the car ready. And it’s been like that for the past few months!”
 
James rose to prominence in the late 90’s, first winning Toyota’s one make Corolla Cup series and then taking out the Proton Rally Trophy which netted him a prize drive in a Super 1600 Proton Satria at the Network Q Rally of Great Britain in 2000.
 
A break away from the sport though became an extended hiatus, which James is now keen to break. “When I walked away from rallying at the end of 2000 it was only planned to be a short break, but life got in the way!”
 
James is set to debut his front-wheel drive Volkswagen Polo at the Quit Forest Rally, the opening round of the 2015 ECB ARC, with the car featuring a striking black and orange paint scheme.
 
Having given himself a warm up at last year’s Rally Victoria in his former Corolla Cup Toyota, James is confident he can share outright stage times with the sport’s leading drivers.
 
Despite the ever-shrinking time gap before his car must be loaded onto a trailer for its trip across the Nullabor, Ashlea isn’t concerned and refuses to even entertain the idea he may not make it to WA.
 
“I don’t care what I have to do, I’ll be there on March 27,’’ said a determined James. “After all, I’ve got more than a decade away from rallying to make up for.”
 
In addition to the new car James will also welcome a new co-driver, with the highly experienced Kate Catford joining the team for the 2015 season.
 
“I’d like to welcome the talented Kate to the team, she has enjoyed excellent results on both gravel and tarmac and I’m really looking forward to having her on board as we see what the Polo can do.”
 
The Quit Forest Rally, round 1 of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship runs from the 27th to the 29th March. Log onto rally.com.au for more event information.

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