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The recent discussion about the future outright rally cars contesting the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship, and the proposed move back towards four-wheel drive, may have proven a bitter pill for the current crop of two-wheel drive competitors to swallow, but positive outlooks appear to abound.
 

Eli Evans
“I think a change most likely had to happen, two-wheel drive was a great concept and one I massively supported, but it’s just a shame that more people didn’t embrace it.”
 
“As a driver for sure you want to be in the fastest, wildest rally car but also as a driver learning to find the limit in a front-wheel drive was hugely rewarding, I definitely think I’m a better driver now because of the time I’ve spent in front-wheel drives.”
 
“I’m excited to put my experience in a two-wheel drive back now into a four-wheel drive rally car, plus to be able to compete in the same machinery as the regional international drivers, especially at Asia-Pacific events, that’s great because at the moment it’s very hard to compare.”
 
“My prediction is it will be the same number of guys, the same names, who will step up to the proposed new cars from two-wheel drive. I hope many more do, but I also know there is the dollars side of things to consider for most competitors looking to step up.”
 
“I know our team, after more than twenty years in the ARC, we have a really good handle on costs and you just can’t compete on a shoe-string budget. If you do you’ll spend more money on repairs and parts than if you’d spent money on new parts from the start. Motorsport is not cheap, rallying is not cheap, and if you try to do it cheaply you end up costing yourself more.”
 
“I really hope the rule changes will encourage guys back who have sat on the sidelines for a few years. And equally I hope there are State competitors who look to do two or three Rounds to really challenge the ARC guys, that’s how we get new drivers into the sport, by giving them an opportunity to be the best.”
 
Brendan Reeves
“I’ve spent the last three years exclusively driving two-wheel drive – here in Australia, in Europe, in America – and it’s taught me a huge amount, so it is sad to think that two-wheel drive won’t be the outright category for much longer.”
 
“It was a great idea to head in that direction (two-wheel drive) and it just hasn’t worked out as everyone had hoped, particularly in terms of attracting new manufacturers into the sport.”
 
“I think the ‘Maxi’ car idea is a step in the right direction, although it’s still going to be expensive, so anyone sitting at home thinking this will be a cheap way to go rallying probably needs to do some research. But if it attracts new and old competitors into the sport, and new cars, then that’s a win-win for everyone.”
 
Adrian Coppin
“The time has come for the sport to be strong and really stick to its guns. I think when rules jump around every couple of years that doesn’t help anyone, in fact it probably encourages more people who want to compete to just stay at home.”
 
“I can appreciate the whole ‘Maxi’ thing, but it’s all going to come down to cost no matter what class or formula is the outright category. If they are cost effective people will be interested, if not then we might only see one or two. I hope we see lots, that’d be great.”
 
“The most exciting thing for me is to have a car (Maxi) that is fast in International events, where we can have local guys really comparing times with the best drivers in the World.”
 
Scott Pedder
“The potential for the ‘Maxi’ class to be very positive is definitely there, although my biggest fear for any formula is having very few cars. Like when we had two World Rally Cars in the Championship, they are awesome to watch, but there is a big gap between those cars and everyone else, from a spectacle view point, from a interest level, down to inspiring competitors to come out and compete.”
 
“Continuing on from this the key with ‘Maxi’ cars or any new vehicle eligibility, like we achieved with the G2 two-wheel drive cars, is that these most market relevant cars needs to be of equivalent performance to what you currently have.”
 
“A late model Evo or STi with no restrictor, in real PRC trim including a sequential gearbox, is a very potent machine above the capabilities of an R4 car which we know is only slightly down on S2000 pace on gravel, which is another FIA car that will also be eligible.”
 
“One of the big factors with ‘Maxi’ cars, which I see as the most market relevant four-wheel drive option to take the ARC forward, is being able to fit them in, from a performance viewpoint, with the other very potent options available otherwise interest especially from new manufacturers will be limited and as a Championship we lose our relevance which I think historically, other than national television, is one of our critical strengths.”
 
“The ‘Maxi’ cars though give us a real opportunity to align our Championship with the rest of the region, with New Zealand, with the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and maybe in the future with the WRC and that really helps our drivers, co drivers, teams and mechanics open doors if we can compete and beat the regions best drivers in identical cars.”
 
“There is the cost aspect to consider too but I think we need to realise that competing at the top end of the sport has always been relatively expensive, and that right now it’s probably the best value for money it’s ever been. The important term here is ‘relative’ cost and our whole industry needs to realize that whilst cost reduction is crucial we also don’t want to dilute our sport too much to the point where it is just not a commercially viable product anymore.”
 
“We have to be careful what we take out. We have to find ways to encourage participants at all levels but also consider the top teams and manufacturers that have been, and will continue to be, the ones that commercially drive our Championship forward for the benefit of all. I know our per Round budget this year is less than it was when I was competing in the ARC ten years ago in a Group N Evo, there aren’t many sports that could claim that.”
 
“If Maxi cars can produce a more exciting product, at a price that is more achievable for more teams and encourage more manufacturers which assists in the credibility, growth and promotion of our sport, then obviously this is nothing but positive.”

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