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It’s a sadly familiar story – young driver makes his way up the rally ladder only to find that when he gets to the top, there’s nowhere to go. This is the predicament that young Victorian driver, Will Orders, finds himself in as the 2006 calendar reaches its climax – bucket-loads of talent but an empty pail of cash. It’s not an unfamiliar story.

We’ve seen it all before, where drivers with obvious talent skimp and save to work their way through the different levels of the sport, denying themselves some of the comforts of life and making rallying their first priority.

Stop and think – how many young drivers can you name who’ve climbed rallying’s difficult steps, only to get within sight of the ultimate pinnacle, a factory drive, and find that there are no vacancies there? Unfortunately, in a country with few motor vehicle manufacturers, the number of driving vacancies are less than could be counted on the fingers of one hand. As a result, fresh new talent disappears as the cost of running a privateer team against the might of the factory cars becomes too much of a burden.

In Will Orders case, 2006 could be hailed as his best year so far in his relatively short career. Blooded into the sport in a Mk.2 Escort that was one of the quickest around, the young Orders (cousin of Scott Pedder) was co-opted into the Pedders privateer rally team where he quickly came to grips with the power of a Mitsubishi Evo. The lessons learnt there over a couple of seasons served not only to hone Orders’ driving skills, but to play an important role as a team member.

With the disbanding of the successful Pedders team and two years in the RS Challenge, this year saw Orders step into the Subaru Impreza of Canberra’s Michael Thompson, embarking on a successful season that, with the Rally of Melbourne still to be run, sees he and co-driver Toni Feaver leading the BP Ultimate Challenge by sufficient points to almost guarantee that they will win their class. All that can stop them taking the silverware home is for them to DNF on each day of the 2-day event, a highly unlikely scenario.

For no other reason than to gain experience, the Orders team will cross the Nullabor to Western Australia for what looks like being their final competitive event in the Impreza. Although there is little to be gained by contesting this WRC event, Orders believes it is important to compete, just so that he can gain some exposure in front of a world-wide audience. That much is important to him, although he’s realistic enough to realize that the chance of picking up a drive in Australia is very remote.

For now, though, a good result at Rally of Melbourne is his main aim. No stranger to the rally roads in the Yarra Valley, he hopes that his previous experience will stand him in good stead on September 23 and 24 in this, the final ARC round for 2006.

“Unless somebody steps up with a suitable deal, next year’s program looks pretty bleak,” Orders told RallySport Magazine. “I don’t have any money to go rallying next year, so I’ll just have to sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m just one of many competitors in the same situation. It’s a fact of life in rallying at the moment that there just aren’t enough drives around.”

A familiar story? Sadly so, and one that has dogged rallying for too many years where a surfeit of talent has seen many promising drivers leave the sport. It can only be hoped that in Will Orders’ case that doors might be opened up and an opportunity provided.

Photos: Peter Whitten, Kristian McMahon

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