Having made just five appearances in a gravel rally car prior to this year, Ben Calder has upped his competitive intentions with the rookie hoping to feature in four Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) rounds this year.
The South Australian certainly impressed during his two ARC outings in 2019 with two top 10 finishes – a sixth place in the Pedders Eureka Rush and an eighth place in the Adelaide Hills Rally.
With 2018 ARC runner-up Steve Glenney by his side for his home rally, Calder managed a personal best seventh place in heat two, further highlighting his positive development since joining.
While the tarmac rally regular was hoping to compete in the full ARC season this year, work commitments have reduced his availability, although he remains confident of getting to the four rounds.
“I can’t do Perth and Canberra at this stage, but I am very likely to do the rest of the ARC season,” Calder said.
“I am very keen to get back out there. I am doing less tarmac rally stuff because I am interested more in developing myself on the gravel which has been fun. I love racing in rally. It’s fantastic.
“I am really looking forward to continuing my progress and I think we can get a lot quicker than we were last year and without doing anything silly.
“The plan is definitely to do the full ARC and I was hoping to do that this year but I just can’t make it work unfortunately. I would like to think we can do the full ARC and be competitive in the near future.”
For the final four rounds in 2020, Calder will be part of a familiar line up with Glenney to co-drive for him once again and in the same Subaru the duo used at the Adelaide Hill Rally.
Despite having such a positive start to life in the ARC, Calder believes there is still more talent within him to unearth and he will wait until he is ready to have a real go at the championship.
“I want to be competitive. I don’t think I will be anywhere near the front runners and I don’t expect to be for a while. If I have the time to put into it, I will try really hard,” Calder explained.
“I guess I want to keep eyeing my progress. I’d like to think we can go reasonably quick within the mid pack as I’ll still be running the same Subaru again this year.
“I think there is a lot more speed to get out of the car with me getting more seat time so it’s safe to say this year will once again be a development year.”
Calder also revealed that on top of his intentions to compete in the full ARC season one day, a move to an R5 could also be on the agenda.
“I will see how we go in the Subaru this year and if that goes well, maybe I will go the full season next year,” Calder added.
“I like the idea of one of these R5 cars and it seems to be what everyone is doing but we will see.
“I made some enquiries about it last year, but I don’t think I am ready for it. There is still a lot more speed to come out of me and I think the car would be wasted on me if I was to get it now.
“We may go a bit quicker but at the end of the day it would be wasted year.”
While Calder won’t be a part of it, the first round of the 2020 Motorsport Australia Rally Championship will be the Netier National Capital Rally on 21-22 March.