Up and coming South Australian rally driver James Rodda has been chosen as the wild card entry in the final of the Rallyschool.com.au Australian Junior Challenge which will be a part of the Bosch ARC section of this year's Rally Australia event, the Coffs Coast Rally at Coffs Harbour on September 9 and 10.

Rodda, a 20 year old student from Adelaide who is currently studying to be a surveyor, missed out on qualifying in the opening rounds of the Bosch ARC after his Subaru suffered a melted piston on the first stage of the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia in April and then was forced out of the Scouts Rally of South Australia with damaged suspension from a heavy landing over a jump.

The young Adelaide driver was chosen as the wild card by a panel of judges who believed he presented the necessary speed, talent, drive and professionalism to be a role model for other young competitors entering the sport.

According to the CEO of the Bosch ARC, Scott Pedder the decision to award Rodda the wild card was a tough one as the RAJC was packed with an array of impressive driving talent.

"James certainly stood out as a great young talent who suffered some bad luck in the two qualifying rounds he contested but took that on the chin and always acted professionally," said Scott.

"He certainly showed the speed and posted some impressive stage times and deserves the final spot in the shootout at Coffs Harbour," he added.

For Rodda the call that informed him of his wild card win came as a surprise and he is delighted to have a chance to demonstrate his speed and ability on what is a world stage in front of the WRC crews in Coffs Harbour next month.

"Our tilt at the RAJC didn't go quite as smoothly as we would have liked and at the end of Scouts Rally SA we thought our campaign had come to an end but it was a bit of a surprise to be called up and given the wild card," said James Rodda.

"It has been a tough year, we melted a piston in WA on the first stage, which we repaired but the car was well down on power and we never really had the pace we had hoped for," he said.

"We threw everything into our home rally only to be forced out after a heavy landing, so it is fantastic to get a second chance," he added.

Rodda currently works part time jobs to help pay for his rallying while finishing off his studies and hopes that he will qualify as a surveyor at the end of this year to pay off the debts and loans he has accrued pursuing his dream of rally success.

"We want to progress and improve and I am looking forward to stepping up at the final and I am going to do everything I can to repay the faith the judges have placed in me and my co-driver Marcus Piristi," James added.

In the four wheel drive section the highest point scorer from each of the three qualifying rounds plus the 'wildcard' will take up the four positions available for the category final at Coffs.

The four qualifiers are Tom Wilde, who won his spot in WA, Dane Berry who won in Queensland, Sandy Nott who won in SA and of course James Rodda as the wild card.

In the two wheel drive section of the RAJC the three highest points scorers from each of the qualifying rounds will fill the ten spots available at the Coffs.

The ten qualifiers in two wheel drive include Will Orders, Ross Allen and Jack Flanagan who qualified in WA, Stephen Turner, Cameron Sluce and Paul Batten who qualified in Queensland and Rowan Wollard, Brendan Brown and Matthew Amos who tied with Matt Busby for the final qualifying spot at Rally SA.

The winning two wheel drive crew at Coffs Harbour will receive a fully paid drive in a Rallyschool.com.au Unrestricted ARC Car in the outright section at Rally Victoria along with a full day's tuition with reigning ARC champs Simon and Sue Evans.

The overall four wheel drive winner in the RAJC will receive a free entry at this year's Rally Victoria, with eight rally tyres from Kumho, $2000 to assist with conversion of their car from PRC/Group N to ARC Car and a full day's tuition from Simon and Sue Evans, a package totalling more than $6000.

The final of the series in Coffs Harbour will be run across two days on the same fast and challenging roads through the Coffs Coast hinterland as the World Rally Championship competitors allowing the RAJC qualifiers to demonstrate their skill and speed in front of some of the top rally teams in the world.

The Rallyschool.com.au Australian Junior Challenge will be the subject of an hour of dedicated television coverage on Network Ten and ONE HD and is part of the sport's campaign to identify the champions of the future by encouraging talented young drivers to step up to the top levels of the sport and give an incentive to continue in what is a demanding and expensive sport.
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