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Forty-six local gravel rally competitors are ready to race the clock at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally on Sunday 13th September 2020 taking place near Harvey and Collie, south-west of Perth. The Forest Rally has been run since 1983 and part of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) national competition since 1985, with this year being an exception due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said that Western Australia is the only state that has run a round of the ARC continuously since 1974 (different rallies to the Forest Rally). “Only a pandemic has stopped us from having a national rally,” Tapper said. “The pandemic means we’ve had to make other changes that include running the Make Smoking History Forest Rally and the Experts Cup at the same time as part of the Motorsport Australia WA State Championship. “It hasn’t stopped local competitors though, we have a strong field who are excited to be driving along some of the former World Rally Championship stages that were used when Rally Australia was held in WA, the last time it was held here was in 2006.” Leading the State Championship after the first round, Bakers Hill, is John O’Dowd and co-driver Toni Feaver in their WRC2 spec Truck Wholesale WA Skoda Fabia R5. In the past, the power of the R5 has seen O’Dowd significantly faster than his rivals, but this time he’s got competition. “At Bakers Hill, Craig Rando and Ben Searcy were quick and closing the gap, but throw in Nic Box, Mike Young and a big field and I reckon there’ll be lot of competition, which is the way I like it, and it should make for a good rally,” O’Dowd said. “My strategy is just to be on it from the start, write a good set of notes and commit to them, and hopefully the speed will come. “I’m looking forward to it, the roads are good, and I like the Wellington Dam stages.”

Mike Young will drive a Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX in the Forest Rally.

Perth-based New Zealander Mike Young and co-driver Scott Beckwith will be ones to watch in their Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI. Young by name and young in age at just 27, Mike Young is a nine-year veteran in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, driving for Japanese team, Cusco Racing. A regular on the podium, Young has finished runner-up in the APRC four times and was crowned Asia Cup Champion last year and also in 2013. “I’m feeling fairly confident, although I haven’t rallied since October last year, and I don’t know these roads, but the good thing is that some of the stages are new, which should help,” Young said. “I’ve not tested this car, but I’ve driven a very similar car in the Asia Pacific, it’ll be like riding a bike. “I’m itching to get back out there after a long break and I’m sick of watching everyone else have fun, so I had to get out there and do it myself. I can’t wait,” he said. Returning to rallying are former State Champions Doug Tostevin and co-driver Tammy Adams in their 1992 Subaru Liberty RS, the duo likely to shake up the front end of the field. In the 2WD, competition is expected to be fierce between Nic Box and co-driver in Daymon Nicoli in their Alistar Garage Nissan Silvia S13, Glenn Alcorn and Jonathan Charlesson in their BMG Autos Ford Escort MK2, husband and wife Razvan and Ioana Vlad in their MAXYRally Ford Fiesta, Mike Joss and Megan Logue in their Mike Joss Racing Nissan Silvia S15, and Mick Steele and Katie Oxley in their NATRAD Malaga Nissan Silvia S13. Carrying a famous rallying name, sixteen-year-old rookie Max McRae will be with experienced co-driver Bill Hayes in their Dirtfish Ford Fiesta ST150, hoping to finish his first State Championship rally. In the Clubman Cup, Alex and Lisa White in their Information Proficiency Nissan Silvia S13 are favourites however Rod Fowler and co-driver Keith Mayes in their Sussan Fowler Peugeot 206 GTI, and Able Tuckett and Glenn Macneal, WA’s most decorated co-driver having competed in over 100 WRC rallies, are likely to be making a charge for the top step in their Humble Bee Finance Hyundai Lantra. Competitors will tackle 140 kilometres of flat out competition on eight closed road Special Stages including a mammoth 31-kilometre stage around Wellington Dam, travelling a total distance of almost 300 kilometres. The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is free for spectators and there are dedicated spectator points for the best vantage points to watch the rally action. Get a close look at rally cars in the Service Park based in the centre of Collie and see how crews miraculously fix huge mechanical problems in record time.
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