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West Australians Dean Herridge and Bill Hayes will score points towards the Production World Rally Championship when they contest Telstra Rally Australia next month.

Driving the Subaru Impreza WRX that took them to third place in this year’s Australian Rally Championship, Herridge and Hayes will enter the event under the Subaru Rally Team Quasys banner, after the Quasys team decided not to contest the Cyprus and Australian WRC rounds.

“Originally we had looked into the prospect of using Rally Australia’s wild card entry into the PWRC component of the event,” Herridge said. “But then the chance to drive for the Quasys team came up, so we’re rapt.”

The team normally runs Japanese driver Takuma Kamada in the WRC, and while the Herridge team will enter under the Japanese team’s banner, they will run their own Subaru.

“Basically we are just entering using their entrant’s licence and we will be allocated with their number,” Herridge added. “So instead of having a number somewhere in the 60s – behind the WRC registered drivers - we’ll be in the 40s, which will mean that we will be on the same road conditions and, something which hasn’t always happened on some stages in previous years.”

Herridge’s car will run in the same specification as it has for the ARC this year – slightly de-tuned from when the Subaru factory team ran it in 2005 – and the likeable Herridge is hell-bent on winning Group N on his home event, something that has eluded him in the past.

“By running as part of the PWRC and being able to score WRC points, it will mean the other PWRC drivers will need to include us in their thinking, rather than discounting us, as they have done in past years. I think we can do well,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2007, Herridge says that a full PWRC program would be the ideal situation, but admits that it is still a long way off.

“We’ve been working on it for 18 months, but all the pieces are yet to fall into place.

Should it eventuate, a drive for the Les Walkden Team in the PWRC would appeal to the 30-year old, but once again, the funding and the right opportunity would have to be right.

He has had initial talks with Subaru after the Rally of Melbourne to find out what their plans are for 2007, but is unsure of their motorsport position at the present time.

With rumours of a second car for both Mitsubishi and Ford in 2007, Herridge says he hasn’t had talks with either manufacturer, and hasn’t ruled out a return to the tarmac with Subaru next year.

“I’ve actually enjoyed the challenge of the tarmac events this year, but would certainly like to do more of it, particularly if that was the basis of my 2007 program,” he said. “But my passion is gravel rallying and the ARC, and after this year’s results, particularly in the second half of the season, I think we’re getting closer to the point where we can realistically challenge for the title.

“That would be another box ticked off on my list, and one I’d love to achieve,” he said.

In the meantime, though, the preparations have began for Telstra Rally Australia. With engine failures while leading Group in the last two years, the now privately-run Herridge team aim to not only make the finish, but to stand atop of the podium on the afternoon of October 29.

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