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Former Australian F2 Rally Champion, Brett Middleton has unveiled plans to contest the new ECB World's Best Bullbars Australian SUV Rally Challenge in a Subaru Forester turbo diesel.

Middleton is the first driver to publicly reveal details of a campaign to win the inaugural ECB SUV Rally Challenge and believes the diesel Subaru will be the car to beat in the all-new rally category.

The MRT Performance Subaru Forester Turbo-diesel is currently being prepared at the Sydney workshops of MRT Performance and is scheduled to be tested for the first time in early January, ahead of the opening round of the 2012 Bosch Australian Rally Championship, the ECB Rally Calder on March 1-4.

The Sydney based team will also use its Subaru Forester to raise awareness and funds for leading charity the McGrath Foundation.

Middleton believes the Subaru diesel SUV will be not only fast and competitive but spectacular and good to watch with a deep engine note from the turbocharged oil burner.

"On paper the Subaru will be the car to beat in terms of power to weight ratio and the pedigree of the chassis and we are very excited at pioneering the Forester in the ECB SUV Rally Challenge," said Brett Middleton.

"We know there are other teams close to committing to an assault on the ECB SUV Rally Challenge and I hope our announcement will act as a catalyst for them," he said.

"I am really excited by the SUV category because it will enable manufacturers to showcase one of the most popular classes of vehicle in the Australian market."

"At MRT Performance we have been tuning and enhancing an increasing number of SUVs for customers over the past couple of years so I know first hand the interest and potential in rallying SUVs.

"We will be using our involvement in the ECB SUV Rally Challenge to showcase MRT Performance's capability and ideas for tuning and improving road going SUVs," Middleton added.

CEO of the Bosch ARC, Scott Pedder has welcomed the announcement of MRT Performance's entry in the ECB Australian SUV Rally Challenge and believes it will be the first of a number of teams committing to the Challenge.

"It is really pleasing to have a team of the calibre and experience of MRT Performance and a former F2 Champion like Brett Middleton at the wheel of a turbo diesel Forester and it promises to be a really exciting prospect," said Scott Pedder.

"There are some interesting vehicles being considered for the ECB Australian SUV Rally Challenge and this will only bolster interest in the SUV category," he added.

Middleton will be partnered by long time co-driver Andrew Benefield in the ECB World's Best Bullbars Australian SUV Rally Challenge.

Australia will be the first country in the world to conduct a national rally series for Sport Utility Vehicles with new class will be open to all vehicles specified as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) by industry statisticians VFACTS/RVCS, either in two wheel drive or four wheel drive form and be no more than 10 years old (plus model run ons).

The new SUV Australian Rally Challenge will welcome turbo diesel or normally aspirated petrol vehicles and will give the SUV sector access to motor sport competition that is relevant and the perfect showcase for cars of this type.

The rules have been formulated for the new SUV Rally Challenge to keep the cars close to standard with only minor wheel, tyre, brake, suspension and exhaust modifications allowed along with the mandatory safety equipment.

This means the ECB Worlds Best Alloy Bullbars Australian SUV Rally Challenge will be a relatively economical way for manufacturers to become involved in rallying and to showcase their product in the heat of competition.
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