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With only days until the first round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC), lack of funding has put paid to the entry of 2017 2WD ARC2 champions, Stephen Mee and Mathew Harriott. The team knew 2017 would be a tough introductory year into the workings and associated competition pressures of the ARC, but not as tough as it turned out to be. McMRallySport’s Toyota Corolla was a just-in-time effort for the start of the 2017 South Australian Rally Championship. The team envisaged working up into the ARC ranks, but the introduction of the ARC2 series saw it arrive sooner than expected. A seventh outright in the vehicle's first gravel event was encouraging enough to push forward improvements, but more was scheduled. A number of component failures throughout the 2017 season drained the funding for an attack on the 2018 2WD season, including two sequential gearbox failures, along with driveline problems. “We had a budget for each event and identified two seasons' worth of competition from selected state and ARC events," driver Stephen Mee explained.
"Gearbox failure in a test event, suspension failure, and then the sequential gearbox exploding on day two in Canberra gutted us. We had $20,000+ worth of scrap metal and parts after two events!”
A number of driveshaft failures at Rally SA, where they qualified for the Coffs ARC2 final, and the subsequent custom replacement parts late arrival put the team on the back foot. The gearbox was also an unknown after a strip down to run standard parts. The team rallied around and scraped together enough to get them to Coffs Harbour for the final, but this meant no testing prior to Coffs, and even selling the team's Mazda Familia rally car. Then, to finish off the year, they broke wheels plus other sub-frame parts on a day two bridge strike.
"No one ever said rallying was easy," Mee added. “I suppose our competitive spirit and determination got the team to that ARC2 2WD win in Coffs.
“Our current supporters have stuck with us as they can see where we were heading, and had been showing a return for their support.” Success in ARC2 has not been enough to translate into additional sponsors or major local support. Even with a planned 2018 ARC attack with identified media and event exposure, it seems to be a common problem. The Corolla currently sits in the workshop awaiting remedial work, but without funding it will not be ready before Round 3 of the ARC in June. With enough funding the team will endeavour to run the National Capital Rally in Canberra for unfinished business, as well as some rounds of the South Australian Rally Championship and the state's all new ARC round in September.
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