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The Raymond Partners Accountants Rally Team of Glen and Matt Raymond has once again proven their speed by finishing second outright in round four of the Australian Rally Championship, Rally Queensland.

Held in the forests around the Sunshine Coast, the rough and rocky event is known to be one of the toughest in the championship. The event brought an international flavour with the Asia Pacific Rally Championship running in conjunction with the Australian event.

After becoming the youngest ever winner of an Australian Rally Championship event by winning the Quit Forest Rally, the team had added confidence heading into the event after some great preparation.  The Toyota Corolla Group N rally car had been meticulously gone over by Mammi Motors and a new paint scheme was applied by Blackwell Bodyworks.

“My theory has always been that any sort of racing stripes would give you at least an 8% increase in performance,” laughs driver Glen Raymond. “But it is confidence building to come into an event being able to concentrate on driving, knowing that the car won’t break down and it looks the goods.”

Despite a spin in the morning of Heat 1, the team were able to consolidate the day by finishing in second outright.

Heat two also bought the team home in second outright, however the heat did not go without incident.

“We were six seconds in front of Simon (Evans) and it was tied between Neal (Bates) and I going into the 35 kilometre last stage,” said Glen Raymond. “It was going well until a water splash about five kilometres from the end. All of a sudden, we lost half of our turbo boost, resulting in no power. We then caught another competitor who was having troubles and we thought it was all over.”

Despite the drama, the Raymonds only lost their first outright placing for the heat to Simon Evans by four seconds and beat Neal Bates by one second.

“My heart sank when we lost the power, but we kept pushing and ended up second outright,” said Glen Raymond. “And what an exciting finish. That is what rallying is all about!”

As the Asia Pacific Rally Championship event was held over the same roads, it gave the Australian teams a chance to compare their times to the International crews. The Raymond team was ecstatic to find that if they were registered for points in the APRC, they would have won the APRC part of the event outright.

“We never even expected to get close to the international teams,” said navigator Matt Raymond. “But to have the pace to beat the big budget international crews is just awesome.”

The round was also a qualifying round of the Pirelli Star Driver competition, a program which offers five drivers under 27 from around the world the chance to win six fully funded drives in the World Rally Championship. To win the initiative, a driver must qualify, then win the shootout at the Australian World Rally Championship round later this year.

However, to qualify you must be in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, running in an internationally recognised car, and although the Raymond’s Toyota Corolla is built to the same international group N standard, it is not eligible as it is run under Australian Rally Championship rules.

“We were so disappointed not to have been able to compete in the Pirelli Star Driver Challenge, as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” stated Glen Raymond. “We had a FIA homologated car lined up before the event to enter the APRC, but unfortunately it fell through.”

“The qualifying scoring system is based on stage times, and had we entered we would have won by 18 points, which is a massive margin. There are wild card entries available for the shootout round, so hopefully we have done enough to prove we are more than deserving to receive one.”

The team now looks to the next Australian Rally Championship round in South Australia, as the proposed next round in Coffs Harbour in June has been postponed to later in the year due to the recent floods.

The team would like to thank its team and supporters who make competing at this level possible: Raymond Partners Accountants, JNJ Electrical Contractors, Bendigo Bank, Global Energy Solutions, Mammi Motors, Blackwell Bodyworks, Premium Electrical Services, Pirelli, Quality Site Welding, Warragul Signs, Jens Dinkum Discounts and VicParts.

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