With rain threatening to throw a curve ball at the field this afternoon Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes are holding a 2.4 second lead over nearest rivals in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally as the crews complete their midday service.
“It’s been really close out there which has been exciting and that’s what been great so far in the Championship, how close everyone is, so we’re just trying to do the best job we can do inside the car and that’s all we can do,” Taylor said.
In second position Harry Bates/John McCarthey have the unenviable job of sweeping the ball bearing roads, a job which has caught out even the most experienced campaigners in the past.
“It’s been a challenging morning, hard to pick the breaking markers and hard to pick where it’s grippy and where it’s not, but we’re getting on top of it now and starting to get a better feel,” Bates said.
“If the rain comes being car one on the road will definitely be a disadvantage as I’ll be the pioneer out there. We know what these roads are like when its wet, they can start to turn into a really solid clay base and get quite slippery so we’re just going to have to take it as it comes and right at the moment I’m happy with where we’re at so hopefully the rain will stay away,” he continued.
Overnight leaders Eli Evans/Glen Weston dropped more than a minute on SS4 and despite coming back strong taking considerable time out of Taylor and Bates on SS5 and SS6 they still sit in seventh outright.
“The map sensor at the front of the car came off the engine intake 5kms into the second stage this morning and basically gave me 10% power so with 15ks in the stage to go we basically idled through and turns out we lost a minute and a half. We’ve got a lot of work to do now but we’ll just press on and see where we end up,” Evans said.
Forest rally debutants Marcus and Scott Walkem have put in an impressive display over the first forest stages, getting used to the unique West Australian surface and focusing on getting through to the finish. They sit in third with four gravel stages to come for Heat One.
Contesting both the ARC and WARC competitions Brad Markovic/Toni Feaver are holding down a 10 second lead over 2016 WARC Champions Dylan King/Abbey Hayes at the end of the morning stages. Nannup local Tom Wilde and his co-driver Madelin Kirkhouse are in third.
“The car is feeling great out there, we’ve got good pace and overall we’re really happy with the start of the day. Hopefully we can consolidate our lead this afternoon and possibly pick up a few more places in the ARC as well,” Markovic said.
More than 50 crews from across Australia are contesting the Make Smoking History Forest Rally through the forests of Nannup and around the electric Trade Hire Busselton Special Stage. The event is the second round of both the CAMS Australian Rally Championship® and the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship.