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For ECB ARC newcomer Alan Roe the step up this year to the top level of the sport has all been about taking it slow and steady, building his experience and speed and learning from the best, and after the opening two Rounds he’s happy to report everything is going to plan.
 

“So far so good, the first two events have been a massive adventure and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride,” beamed Alan.
 
Roe’s Ford Focus is brand new to the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship this season, having taken more than 18 months to build in his workshop.
 
“When I decided to build the Focus I really had one eye on containing costs. I’ve always liked the simplicity in performance of a turbo-charged engine, and while it’s a slightly bigger and heavier car I think it represented the best solution mixing speed and reliability,” he said.
 
“I think so far the car has performed exceptionally well and I have no doubt if you put a top tier driver in the car it’d be right up the front.”
 
“We still have a lot of refinement to go in the car, and we’re always looking to areas we can improve after we finish each rally. After WA we came away focusing on the handling, specifically what we could change with the springs and sway bars,” added Roe, who has so far finished sixth outright in Canberra and fifth in Western Australia.
 
With limited experience of the ECB ARC, and only slightly more experience in rallying full stop, Roe set himself a challenge when he began building the Focus to compete this season. He admits that while the challenge of building a car and running it at a rally are hard, the biggest challenge has been pace noting.
 
“Pace noting is still very foreign to me,” he said. “Of the 14 or so rallies I’ve done maybe about 10 have been on pace notes. I know being committed to the notes, when I can’t see where the road is going, that’s where I’m letting myself down.”
 
To help get up to pace faster Roe drafted in former ARC front-runner Steve Glenney to sit in the navigators seat at the Forest Rally. “I’m hugely thankful for all the help Steve has provided so far, both from a driving and a setup point of view, his knowledge is invaluable.”
 
“I’m working with Steve to trust my notes, because that’s the only way I’m going to get to that next level and go even faster.”
 
“When I was watching the television coverage from WA on the weekend I could see that the biggest difference between the top guys and me is corner speed. Guys like Brendan Reeves and Scott Pedder are just so committed to every corner.”
 
“The battle is always that you want to push, but not crash because if you’re parked in a ditch you’re not driving and learning. But you don’t want to go slow and not learn either. It’s a real quandary and at my age you do think ahead about how quickly your fun would end if you ended up in a ditch,” Alan continued.
 
With the plan at the start of the year to contest all six Rounds of the ECB ARC, Roe acknowledges that he underestimated budgets and that the next outing in Queensland may fall by the wayside.
 
“We’ve probably spent a bit more than we’d planned already this year, so Queensland is a maybe at this stage, I’ll decide in the next couple of weeks. I’d say it’s maybe 80% likely that we’ll be there.”
 
“Steve (Glenney) has committed to co-driving with me in both Queensland and South Australia, after that it depends on his busy schedule but I’d like to think he’ll be with me for the rest of the year,” Roe stated.
 
“At the end of the day going rallying is a hobby for me, so I need to keep everything in perspective. You can spend a small fortune having fun, but eventually the money is going to run out and the fun will be over.”

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