West Australian Tom Wilde is a surprise entry for the opening round of the 2019 Australian Rally Championship season, the Forest Rally. Teaming with 2017 co-driver and partner Madelin Kirkhouse, Wilde steps back into a Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI for the season opener. “I haven’t missed a Forest Rally, be it as a driver or co-driver, since I started rallying 13 years ago, and it wasn’t looking good this year”, the WA driver said this week. “So when the opportunity arose to get back in a car particularly at an ARC level with my partner Maddie, I jumped at it. It’s always good to compare yourself against the best in the country and see where you’re at after a couple of years away from the top of the league so to speak." Although 31 year-old Wilde has international experience in the Asia-Pacific series, his last ARC outing was in 2016 when his contested three rounds in a Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI. For 2017, he swapped 4WD for 2WD, teaming up with partner Madelin. Together they showed their talent by winning the overall state championship against the more powerful 4WD cars. Last year saw him co-driving in various events, including the Forest Rally with John O’Dowd. A cheese maker by day at the family business Cambray Cheese, Wilde is relishing the chance to be back in the driving seat. “I know this car pretty well. I drove it in 2016 as part of a three-car team with John and Brad (Markovic). Last year I got to try it from the co-drivers seat, but I’m much happier sitting on the right-hand side of the car! “The Maximum boys have done a fair bit of work since I drove it last. It now has a sequential gearbox and more power. I’ve driven a variety of cars over the past few seasons and last time I drove the WRX STI I was very happy with it. I’m really looking forward to driving it again with its improvements.” And while Wilde is happy to be again be competing against the best In the country, Maximum Motorsport director Dean Herridge is pleased to have him back in the team. “Tom is one of those guys who has always had a lot of natural rallying ability but never really had a lot of opportunity to show it off at a national level," Herridge said. "So for him to back in a Maximum Motorsport Subaru is really pleasing for me and the rest of the team. He and Madelin are part of the Maximum family. They are a great team inside the car and we’ll be working as hard as we can to get the best result for them in front of our home crowd.” The ‘Make Smoking History’ Forest Rally is the season opener of the Australian Rally Championship, and starts on Friday 5th April. It is also the WA state series opener, and is contested in the forest roads near Nannup in the south-west of WA, with a spectacular super special stage around the Busselton foreshore.
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