The Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) is fast approaching the climax of the 2023 season with the picturesque Adelaide Hills to host the penultimate round this weekend.
A strong field made up of 40 crews are entered in the PowerPlay Adelaide Hills Rally with a mix of national and state-level crews to do battle over three days of rally action.
Awaiting the 27 registered ARC crews are 25 special stages with a competitive distance of 187 kilometres, spread across the Adelaide Hills the world-class Shell V-Power Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend.
With the event serving as the final Sprint round of the season, where points are awarded to drivers at the end of both Heat 1 and Heat 2, there is plenty on the line this weekend.
Most importantly, reigning champions Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin have the ability to win the title – an outcome that can happen should fortune fall their way.
Heading into the round with a slender 15-point advantage over Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Harry Bates and Coral Taylor, the equation is simple – should they have an advantage greater than 110 points at the conclusion of Sunday’s EROAD Power Stage, then they will be crowned champions.
However, for that to happen, Lewis and McLoughlin need to score 96 points more than Harry and Taylor across the weekend – which would only likely occur should Harry fail to finish either Heat and Lewis enjoys good results.
Assisting the reigning champions’ charge for another title was the late withdrawal of fellow title contender and Make Smoking History Forest Rally winners Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith after the duo were unable to fix technical issues in time for the event.
Outside of the top two Toyota drivers, there are a handful of crews capable of causing an upset, including Luke Anear and Malcolm Read in their AGI Rallysport-backed Ford Fiesta Mk2 and Maguire Motorsport’s Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey in their Skoda Fabia R5.
Once again, the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup boasts the largest field of the event with 13 crews entered in the class – headlined by the returning Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis.
Taylor will be behind the wheel of the Subaru WRX STi and will automatically launch herself into contention for class honours, a status currently occupied by the likes of Bodie Reading/Mark Young and Steve Maguire/Ben Searcy.
Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston also make their return to the ARC, only this time it will be behind the wheel of their event-winning Datsun Stanza and in both the ARC 2WD Cup and Classic Cups.
Other notable entries for the event include Justin Dowel and Tracey Dewhurst, who will be campaigning the Proto Cars Australia Mitsubishi Mirage, while South Australian Molly Spalding and Matthew Dillon will take part in their first ARC round of the year, fresh off a remarkable victory at the Asia Pacific Motorsport Games earlier this month.
“I am genuinely so excited to return – especially having not done a full ARC spec rally in a while,” Spalding said.
“The car is ready to go and I am really looking forward to tackling these stages – having seen the itinerary, there are really good long roads that are made up of fast sections.
“Matt and I had a fantastic time in Malaysia for the Motorsport Games, and it’s always good to come off the back of a win – although it had a very different level and style of competition.
“With that said, I am keen to do the longer stages and return to what I love which is rallying on dirt. Matt is also excited as this will be his first ARC event ever – It’s a step up and he is excited.
“Last year, we won the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup in Adelaide and got some good stage times, so we’re looking to continue that, but it’s a bigger field this year, so we will see where are at.”
Fans lucky enough to make it to the event will have multiple opportunities to see the action unfold with eight spectator points available across the weekend.
On Saturday, there will be a handful of viewing points spread in the Adelaide Hills and at the Shell V Power Motorsport Park – the last of which will see cars going side-by-side around the circuit.
On Sunday, there will be three available spectator points, including the EROAD Power Stage at 4:50pm ACDT, where important bonus points will be up for grabs.
The event will run alongside the Shannons Trophy Series, which is being held at The Bend on the same weekend – providing a motorsport feast for South Australian fans.
The 2023 PowerPlay Adelaide Hills Rally will be held on 13-15 October 2023.