Young gun Harry Bates and his co-driver John McCarthy head into the event leading the ARC, following victory at the Eureka Rally in Ballarat last month. However, they will have to fight against a strong field of contenders if they are to take their maiden Forest Rally victory.
Reigning ARC champions Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes will also be looking to record their maiden victory over West after taking Heat One honours at the event in 2016 before finishing just off the podium on Sunday in fourth.
In an exciting boost for the event former ARC champions Eli Evans/Glen Weston will be behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper AP4, which is making its debut in the Australian forest.
Evans and Weston were victorious at the Forest Rally in 2015 and will be hoping to steer their new car to the top of the podium again.
Nathan Quinn, joined by co-driver David Calder, is back in the ARC and will return to the West for the first time in 10 years, while the Tasmanian/Victorian combination of Marcus and Scott Walkem will attack the Forest Rally for the first time.
“With the injection of drivers like Harry (Bates) and Molly (Taylor) into the ARC over recent years, as well as series champions like Eli (Evans) and wildcards such as Nathan (Quinn) - who we saw stand on the podium in Victoria, we are going to see some very competitive racing out in the forest,” Forest Rally Event Director Ross Tapper said.
‘With some new cars and drivers who are relatively inexperienced competing on the unique ball-bearing roads of Western Australia there will be plenty of action to catch over the weekend,” Tapper continued.
Leading the charge of local crews of Dylan King/Abbey Hayes, Brad Markovic/Toni Feaver and John O'Dowd/Kenneth Shiel will be hoping to knock off their interstate rivals.
Adding to the spectacle will be the Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship, the WA Clubman Masters and WA Clubman Cup categories, which will run across the weekend ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy in southern Western Australia.
The Make Smoking History Forest Rally will be held in the picturesque towns of Busselton and Nannup from the 21 – 23 April 2017. The event will be the second round of both the CAMS Australian Rally Championship and the Onslow Contracting West Australian Rally Championship.
**Photo Credit: Michael Vettas