With the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) heading to Tasmania for the first time since 2019, the Shannons Rally Launceston’s entry list is locked and loaded and full of stars.
Headlining the field for the third round of the 2022 season is Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy – the reigning champs having enjoyed victory on the apple aisle the last time ARC took place in Tasmania.
The duo enters the round boasting an impressive winning streak, however their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin will have just as much confidence after their first ARC heat win in WA last month.
Part of the Neal Bates Motorsport outfit, the two Toyota GR Yaris AP4s will once again be joined by Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt who round out the team’s three-car charge.
Other regulars making their third appearance for the year include Proto Cars Australia’s Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb in the Hyundai i20 G4, White Wolf Racing’s Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston in the Ford Fiesta R5 and the Glendun Group Evo 9 of Cahal Carey and James Ford.
There are a number of other regular crews returning to the championship after missing the Make Smoking History Forest Rally; most notably Curiosity’s Taylor Gill and Kim Bessell after the young New South Welshman picking up a career-high fourth place in Canberra in April.
Gill won’t be the only young gun to mark a return this month with R‘n’B’s Ryan Williams and Brad Jones keen to get their season back on track after enjoying very little of April’s season opener.
Dean Ridge and Phillip Bonser in the Ikon Signs Citroen DS3 R3T and Camper Trailer Australia’s James Dimmock and Paul Bennett in the Ford Fiesta R2000 are the other two crews to run in their first event since the Netier National Capital Rally.
West Australian Daniel Gonzalez will continue his learning year alongside Caleb Ash in the Realty Lane Hyundai i20 R5 with the event to serve as his second consecutive round and the first outside his home town.
While the event will also be hosting a round of the Tasmanian Rally Championship, which will finalise its entry list shortly, six crews will be cross entered with the state championship and the ARC.
Fresh from a second place in the Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup podium in Western Australia, local Tasmanian crew Aiden Peterson and Mitchell Newton will get the chance to showcase their pace on home soil.
Although it will be his third ARC round for the year, Peterson won’t contending for outright honours in the round, with a collection of high-profile Tasmania rally stars to give the best in Australia a run for their month.
Leading that charge will be Eddie Maguire, who will be alongside Zak Brakey in the Johns Boiss’ Mitsubishi Evo 9, while Eddie’s brother Stephen is just as quick behind the wheel of an Evo 9 and will have Stuart Benson calling the pace notes.
With the state’s rally scene quite strong, there are a few Subaru WRX’s capable of topping the timesheets for the Tasmanian listed crews, including Bodie Reading and Mark Young of Carver Mechanical and Buckby Motorsport’s Ben Newman and Steve Glenney.
Rounding out the entry list is David Thompson and Matthew Sanders, who will steer their Holden Commodore in the ARC Classic Cup.
The event will be split into two heats and made up of 195 competitive kilometres spread over 13 special stages, kicking off on the Friday night with the Rally Show in the town’s Civic Square.
The Shannons Rally Launceston takes place in and around the forests of Launceston on 24-26 June.
Photo: Wishart Media