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This weekend the season opener of the Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC), the Trade Hire Karri Rally, will be held in Nyamup, east of Manjimup on Saturday, March 24. The picturesque rally will take place on State Forest roads with 118 kilometres of competitive stages, 194 kilometres in total, compromising of three stages run multiple times. The longest stage in the Trade Hire Karri Rally is also the longest stage in the WARC at 35 kilometres and will be run twice. There are two shorter stages, Toponup is just under 18 kilometres run twice and Cormint which is a short and sharp 3.57 kilometre stage that will be run three times. Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said competitors would be on a level playing field. “The rally is taking place in a unique area that we haven’t used for rallies for over 30 years,” Tapper said. “At the end of the longest stage of the Championship, competitors will know that they have been physically and mentally challenged. “The stages are tight and twisty with very challenging and good quality roads.

Michael Joss/Melissa Logue. Photo: CMR Photographic

“Nyamup is an original Bunnings timber town but there’s nothing left there now except a few privately owned cottages, most of which are used as holiday rentals, and peace and quiet – that is until the rally comes through!” Tapper quipped. “There are three spectator points walking distance from the Service Park in Nyamup making it easy for family, friends and rally fans to enjoy a day out in beautiful countryside - spectators should plan to arrive before the first car, which is due just after 1pm. “The weather is looking perfect, not too hot with slight wind, it should be a beautiful weekend for a rally.” Maximum Motorsport driver John O'Dowd finished runner-up in the 2017 championship; this year his eyes are set firmly on a state title. “I've got some unfinished business in the state series,” O’Dowd said. “I came within two points of winning last year, so I'll be going all out to claim the title this year.” Last year, O’Dowd narrowly missed the title in a battle with Tom Wilde who won the Championship in a 2WD car, making history in the process. But for the Trade Hire Karri Rally and the WA round of the Australian Rally Championship, the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Busselton in April, the rivals will once again become teammates, with Wilde stepping in as co-driver. “It will be great to have Tom sitting in the co-driver’s seat again. Tom and I have teamed up in the past, and it will be great having him back in the car,” O’Dowd said. O’Dowd’s regular co-driver Ken Shiel is unable to compete due to work commitments. Last year’s state champion Wilde said that he was happy to be in a car this season “Of course I’d rather be driving, but finances and time prevent it. I’m happy to be co-driver for John for a couple of rallies and we’ll see what happens from there.”
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