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WA rally stalwart John O’Dowd will make his CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) east coast debut at this weekend’s Eureka Rally in Victoria.

The 50 year old from Gooseberry Hill, who has competed in his home ARC event, the Forest Rally, for the past seven years, is excited about the prospect of competing with the county’s best drivers.

“It’s going to be a great experience to be a part of such a big field of talented competitors,” O’Dowd said.

John ODowd in action in 2016. (Photo: CMR Photographic)Eureka Rally, which is the ARC season opener and the first rally to be based out of Ballarat in almost 50 years, has attracted a huge number of entrants including 2016 ARC title holder Molly Taylor from NSW, Victoria’s Eli Evans and the ACT’s Harry Bates.

O’Dowd and Maximum Motorsport team mate Brad Markovic are the only WA drivers on the entry list.

“Having Brad there is going to be a huge plus,” O’Dowd said. “He competed in the ARC last year and his experience and advice is going to be invaluable.”

O’Dowd will be joined in his Subaru WRX STI by 33-year-old plumber Ken Sheil from Perth. Eureka Rally will be their first pairing and O’Dowd hopes they will gel straight away.

“He’s an Irish lad with quite a lot of experience in Europe, so I think we’ll go well together,” he said.

The pair will also compete in all rounds of the 2017 WA Rally Championship which has its season opener, the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally in the state’s south west, the weekend after Eureka Rally.

O’Dowd outlined his WARC season goal saying: “Our aim is to finish in the top spot this year.”

The transport business owner, who claimed the WARC’s Group N championship four years in a row from 2011 to 2014, had mixed fortunes last season.

“It ended well, but the start wasn’t so great,” he said “The Subaru suffered an engine fire in the Busselton round which meant we didn’t get any points there, but we were very lucky that the car could be repaired for the next event.”

In 2017, O’Dowd will also be supported by Maximum Motorsport, Knightcorp Insurance, Pacific Finance, Truck Wholesale WA, O’Dowd Transport and Rent WA.

Eureka Rally kicks off with a ceremonial start on Friday before teams head out for Heat One on Saturday morning. Heat Two is run on Sunday with the finish that afternoon.

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