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This weekend’s Make Smoking History Forest Rally is an important event for WA rally driver John O’Dowd.

John O'Dowd at last month's Eureka Rally. (Photo: Joel Strickland)The event, which is the second round of the CAMS Onlsow Contracting WA Rally Championship (WARC), will be a chance for O’Dowd to add to the solid haul of championship points he collected at the opening round.

At the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally, three weeks ago, he finished on the podium and is now third on the WARC leaderboard.

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is also round two of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC), which means the best competitors from around the country will be in action.

“It’s always good to compete with the best in Australia to see where you fit,” O’Dowd said.

The Gooseberry Hill local already showed he had the talent to mix it with the top drivers when he travelled to Victoria for the Eureka Rally in mid-March.

O’Dowd finished ninth in the Ballarat event, which was his first outing with new co-driver Ken Sheil.

“Ken and I had a great start to the year.” O’Dowd said “We gelled straight away.”

At the Eureka Rally, O’Dowd also finished third in ARC2, a new category for competitors who compete in their home ARC event and one other.

As the Make Smoking History Forest Rally is his home ARC event, O’Dowd is hoping to again set fast stage times.

A good result could mean he’s one of three ARC2 4WD competitors to qualify for entry to November’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia, where the best drivers in the world converge.

“To run in a World Rally Championship event would be an amazing challenge and fantastic experience,” O’Dowd said.

“We’ll definitely be giving it all at the Forest Rally – for the local fans and for our sponsors Knightcorp Insurance, Pacific Finance, Truck Wholesale WA, O’Dowd Transport and Rent WA.”

While he’s looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of his Maximum Motorsport-prepared Subaru WRX STI, on the Easter weekend, O’Dowd was competing a different car.

He shared driving duties with Stephen Thompson in a Mitsubishi Evo 10 at the Hi-Tech Oils Bathurst Six Hour. The pair finished 20th from a record field of 64 in the Mount Panarama endurance race.

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