Two-time Bathurst 1000 champion, Tony Longhurst, will head the driver line up for Les Walkden Rallying in their assault on Rally Tasmania next month.

The Launceston-based team will run two Subaru Impreza WRX STI’s in the highly-competitive event, one for Longhurst, and the other for up-and-coming racing driver Klark Quinn.

Longhurst, one of Australia’s most respected touring car drivers, has directed his motorsport efforts into rallying in recent years. Driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the Queenslander finished fourth in Targa Tasmania in 2006, and moved one place higher onto the podium in 2007.

He will be co-driven by the experienced Jahmiel Taylor, and is looking forward to starting the season at Rally Tasmania.

“I’m certainly enjoying rallying as much as I enjoyed circuit race when I was in the prime of my career in the 1990s,” Longhurst said. “In the last few years, driving around a circuit hundreds of times became quite stale, so I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of rallying.”

“I enjoy all the tarmac rallies in Tasmania, and it will be great to start the year with Les Walkden Rallying’s home event, Rally Tasmania,” he said.

Driving his own Subaru, Longhurst finished fifth in Rally Tasmania in 2007, but is looking forward to challenging for a podium finish in 2008. He says he’s getting used to driving on pacenotes with a co-driver, and loves the challenge.

“I’m probably not as committed as I could be on pacenotes. I struggle a little when the conditions change, for example from dry to wet, which is certainly more of a problem in rallying than it is in circuit racing, but I’m getting there.”

His team-mate for Rally Tasmania, Klark Quinn, is a relative newcomer to rallying, but has shown incredible speed in his short career.

Quinn last contested the season’s opening event, Rally Tasmania, in 2004, and believes the experience gained then will stand him in good stead this year.

Quinn will have the experienced Linda Long calling the pacenotes.

Longhurst and Quinn will face serious competition from the likes of multiple Targa Tasmania winner Jim Richards, and Quinn’s father, Tony, both in Porsches. Regular rally stars, such as Eli Evans, and former Targa winner Tony Sullens, will also be pushing for victory.

Team owner, Les Walkden, said the combination of experience (Longhurst) and youth (Quinn) would auger well for Rally Tasmania, and that he was confident of good results for both drivers.

“Both Tony and Klark are experienced racing drivers and should compliment each other well,” Walkden said from his Launceston offices. “Tony has the results on the board, and Klark is a real up-and-comer who we know has the speed to win at this level.”

“We have achieved some excellent results over the last couple of years and we see no reason why this won’t continue at Rally Tasmania.”

The LWR team have just five weeks to prepare for the opening event, to be run from February 15-17. Both Longhurst and Quinn will test their Subarus prior to the rally, in order to get the set-up right before the opening stage gets under way.
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