Four CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) teams will challenge the best drivers the Asia Pacific has to offer as they step up to compete in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the National Capital Rally.
Maximum Motorsport’s Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver and John O’Dowd and Ken Sheil, along with Koscziousko Automotive Rally Team’s Andrew and Kirra Penny and Alliance Motorsport’s Peter Dunn and Dennis Neagle, will compete in both the APRC and the ARC in Canberra on 26-28 May.
Andrew Penny, who competes with daughter Kirra in the co-driver’s seat, said the APRC round presented a good opportunity to run at an international level.
“It’s a great opportunity to compete against international drivers and teams and fly the Australian flag,” explained Penny.
“But also to give Kirra experience at an international level during this stage of her career is important and is a vital learning experience for both her and myself.”
For Peter Dunn and co-driver Dennis Neagle, it is the challenge of ‘playing with the big boys’ that motivated them to enter the APRC.
“Our Subaru Impreza WRX STi is a group N car; it’s big, it’s heavy and unstoppable, so we might as well go all the way,” joked Dunn.
“It’s a great opportunity to challenge ourselves and play with the big boys; we won’t win but sometimes we can match them. We might as well get the most out of this car while we can.”
Brad Markovic was surprised that only four ARC teams chose to enter the APRC in Canberra; as a result Markovic will have prime road position, the first ARC car on the road at position eight.
“Our entry in the APRC was mainly to gain some greater exposure for both us and our sponsors; I thought a few of the other ARC front running competitors might have entered as well so I'm a little surprised at how far up our road position is now which could provide a small advantage depending on the road conditions,” Markovic said.
O’Dowd will start 12th on the road, Penny at 14th and Dunn in 15th; Tankformers’ Eli Evans will be the first of the ARC competitors at position 17, followed by Toyota Genuine Parts’ Harry Bates, Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn and Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor.
Penny doesn’t believe that road position will play a part in the outcome of the ARC round.
“Unless you’re fifth or sixth on the road it starts to become irrelevant…the impact on the round will be little to none.”
This year will mark Penny’s sixth event in Canberra, an event he says is one of the best on the rally calendar.
“This is one of the best events on the circuit as it's based out of the city. It brings the rally to the people,” Penny said.
“The changes in road conditions over the two days suits all drivers and provides a never ending set of challenges. Once you think you have an understanding and build the confidence the day ends and the road conditions change; it gives the feel of two rallies within one and keeps things interesting.”
For Markovic, he is hoping for more of the same after a consistent third outright at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in WA a month ago.
“Our plan is to do the same as in Perth and find a good consistent pace within the top five, especially as we don't have much experience with the roads in Canberra.
“We are looking forward to a great event in the Auto One Subaru and a huge effort once again from all the team at Maximum Motorsport with our second Nullarbor crossing in as many months—the joys of being based in Perth!”
A high-quality field of 49 entries has been received for the National Capital Rally, a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, the NSW Rally Championship and the ACT Regional Rally Series.
The National Capital Rally kicks off on Friday 26 May at 6pm with a ceremonial start at Burbury Close, Barton. Heats one and two will take place on Saturday 27 May and Sunday 28 May respectively.