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Fresh from his points-scoring finish in last year’s Rally Australia, Richie Dalton is eyeing rally championships in two different countries in 2018. The Sydney-based Irishman drove a Skoda Fabia R5 for the first time in the World Rally Championship event in November, finishing a brilliant eighth outright and scoring WRC points. The result came after a long lay-off from rallying, but Dalton will return to the sport with a vengeance this year, with plans to enter both the New Zealand Rally Championship, as well as Australia’s new East Coast Classic Rally Series.
Richie Dalton Rally Australia 2017

Richie Dalton drove a Skoda Fabia R5 to eighth place at Rally Australia in 2017. Photo: Luke Whitten

The New Zealand assault was originally planned for 2017, but ongoing issues with his brand new Ford Fiesta Proto has delayed the car’s debut until this year. A major wiring glitch was the biggest hurdle for Dalton and his Shamrock Motorsport team, but with that now sorted, the car is ready to head to New Zealand for the Otago Rally in April.
The Polish-built Fiesta Proto sports a Mitsubishi Lancer engine which, according to Dalton, is super impressive. He recently drove the car in a tarmac rallysprint event in Sydney and came away excited about the car’s potential.
Richie Dalton Ford Fiesta Proto

The new Ford Fiesta Proto is ready for action in the New Zealand Rally Championship.

For his East Coast Classic assault, Dalton will drive a new Ford Escort Mk2 that he is also looking forward to getting behind the wheel of. His regular co-driver, John Allen, will call the pace notes in New Zealand, while a co-driver for the classic events is yet to be decided.
Richie Dalton

Richie Dalton signs autographs at Rally Australia. Photo: Dave King

“The plan for the year is to make it to New Zealand and compete in all rounds of their championship after a difficult 2017,” Dalton told RallySport Magazine.
“The result at Rally Australia has really got the fire burning again, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Richie Dalton, Ford Escort

A Ford Escort will be Dalton's car of choice for the East Classic Rally Series. Photo: Wishart Media

Dalton, a who runs a successful haulage business in Sydney, could also further expand his program for 2018. “There are some talks about competing in some Australian Rally Championship events in the Skoda this year, but that all depends on date clashes and my busy work schedule.
“However, contesting the WRC round at Rally Australia again is already locked in,” he added.
It will be a busy year for Dalton, who could easily score some impressive results again in 2018. Drivers in both countries will be watching his stage times with plenty of interest.
Richie Dalton Rally Australia 2017

Richie Dalton pushes hard in the mud at Rally Australia last year. Photo: Peter Whitten

Related news: https://rallysportmag.com/local-star-drive-skoda-r5-rally-australia/ https://rallysportmag.com/dalton-a-broken-man-after-fiesta-woes-in-testing/ https://rallysportmag.com/richie-dalton-humbled-by-4wd-success/  
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