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Steve Mackenzie, one of six finalists in the Rallyschool.com.au Australian Junior Challenge, thinks the fight to come out on top at Rally Victoria next month will prove to be an epic tussle and that only the smartest driver, not necessarily the fastest, will prevail.
 
“It’s going to be a big fight for the Juniors,” stated Mackenzie. “I look at the other finalists, Guy Tyler hasn’t been slow at all this year, Luke Page is a tough competitor, and you’ve got a massive unknown with Henry Nott.”
 
“But honestly I think Glen Raymond is the one to watch. He drives very well and his car is quick enough, plus he is a local so he’s going to have a feel for the roads. He may well walk away with it, I’d be surprised if he didn’t.”
 
Mackenzie has proven to be one of the quiet achievers of the 2013 season, pushing away down the order and looking to make that break up the ranks as he gains experience.
 
“It hasn’t been a bad year, but I wouldn’t say it’s been any better than just an ok year either,” Steve said.
 
“I think the biggest challenge is learning the events and building that familiarity of driving the same roads and learning the conditions year after year. I’ve been to a couple of Rounds this year that I had experience from last year and instantly I felt a lot more relaxed.”
 
“You look at guys like Eli (Evans) who have probably been to some of the these rallies 10 times and you can see straight away why they can push flat out right from the start. They know the nature of the roads, they know what’s over that tricky crest, it’s experience like that that I need to build up,” he added.
 
Mackenzie is coming off ninth outright at the last Round of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship, last month’s Coates Hire Rally Australia, where he had a one-off appearance in a R3T spec Peugeot 207.
 
“I felt the result could have been better at Rally Australia. It was a big learning experience, driving in a left-hand drive car for the first time, and at a Round of the World Rally Championship,” commented Mackenzie.
 
“I was a bit disappointed with the competitiveness of the car (Peugeot 207), I expected more from it. In the end I probably could have achieved the same result if I’d stuck to my (Ford) Fiesta.”
 
A pre-Rally Victoria warm up at the recent Akademos Rally, a Round of the Victorian State Championship, didn’t go according to plan though for Mackenzie who DNF’d, while his Junior rival Glen Raymond similarly retired at the same outing.

“I’m looking ahead though to Rally Victoria and I’ll have my brother back in the co-drivers seat. I was hugely grateful to have Ben Searcy join me for Rally Australia, but I’m looking forward to sharing the last Round of the year, and the fight for the Junior title with my brother.”

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