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Four Central Coast residents are hoping for a podium finish as they head south for the ‘grand final’ of the Australian Rally Championship – Rally Victoria.

Wyong-based couple John Mitchell and Jo Cadman joined forces a month ago with Gosford-based businessman Gerald Schofield to contest the fifth round of the national series in Coffs Harbour. Now the two-car team, carrying sponsorship from Schofield’s business, Fibertech Medical Australia, will contest the final round, to be run over the weekend of November 16-17.

Mitchell and Cadman are aiming for a podium finish in the main category of the ARC final after a frustrating run from hero to zero in Coffs Harbour. Schofield, fresh from victory in the gruelling day-night Eden 300 Rally on the south coast of NSW, is also aiming for a podium finish, along with experienced co-driver, Julia Barkley. He’s currently eighth overall in the ARC standings and second outright on the Premier League points table. This is a category for ‘showroom’ (unmodified) cars, which run on normal unleaded fuel and are restricted to the number of tyres they can use in each event.

Schofield, whose business’s head office is in Melbourne, says the decision to extend the sponsorship deal was an easy one – and a sound business move.

“John and Jo had a fantastic run in Coffs Harbour. They were lying second outright at the end of the first day and kept that place all the way through the second day until the second-last stage – which happened to be Stage 13.

“Sadly, at that point, the gearbox stuck in third, but if that hadn’t happened, they would easily have had a podium finish. That would have been fantastic for the Fibertech Medical rally team – so that’s what we are aiming for this time around. John and Jo have the skills, the right car, and the backing they need to achieve it.”

Cadman and Mitchell are cautiously optimistic about what is achievable, considering their run at Coffs Harbour after a year out of the car.

“I think what happened at Coffs made Gerald and us see what’s possible – we all believe that a podium is in our grasp,” Cadman says.

“It is fantastic to have Gerald’s financial support because it takes a lot of the pressure off us, in financial terms, but it does add a different sort of pressure! We’re incredibly grateful for his help and we have a responsibility to make sure he gets a good return on his investment.

“John and I have never had the funding to be able to compete at the top end of the Australian Rally Championship, so this is our chance to finally fulfil our dream of a podium finish at national level. We were so close at Coffs, so missing out was devastating, but we will be giving it everything we’ve got in Melbourne.”

Mitchell and Cadman will contest the event in their own Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, now painted in the official Fibertech Rally Team colours, while Schofield and Barkley will run a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Mitchell and Cadman will be in the mix with North Coast driver Michael Boaden (Mitsubishi) who recently wrapped up the 4WD class of the Australian championship, as well as other outright ARC contenders such as former national champion Simon Evans (Mazda), and his brother Eli (Honda). Schofield has always had a lot of success in Victorian events and he is feeling very confident he can clinch a class win and bring a trophy back to the Central Coast.

Mitchell, an operations manager, and Cadman, a television production executive, have been together for 14 years. Cadman has had previous class wins as a driver in the Australian Rally Championship before she began co-driving for her partner. Mitchell is a dual NSW State Rally Championship winner, having won the title first in 1999, and then again, in 2010, with Cadman. They have a six-year-old son.

Schofield has owned Fibertech Medical Australia since 2003. It specialises in surgical equipment sales and service.

Rally Victoria is based around the towns of Warragul and Drouin, about 100km (one hour’s drive) south east of Melbourne.

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