Battle lines drawn for the 2017 Australian Rally Championship

The 2017 CAMS Australian Rally Championship will go down to the wire at this weekend’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast.

After four rounds the fight for the title is down to a two-horse race between reigning Australian Rally Champion Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and local larrikin Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn.

Taylor, with co-driver Bill Hayes, has her sights firmly set on winning back-to-back championships in the Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

“Everyone wants to impress on the world stage in front of the biggest crowds of the season,” Taylor said.

“Our job is to avoid distractions, maintain our discipline and stay on the podium across the weekend. Only then can we relax.

“We know we’ve got a hugely reliable car and that’s really important over three days, as opposed to the usual two at every other round.

“We’ve got the advantage after four rounds of being ahead of where we were at the pointy end of the season last year, but we certainly can’t afford to be complacent.

“Coffs Harbour is Nathan’s home town and that’ll inspire him to do his best.”

Quinn and co-driver Ben Searcy will be hoping to continue the momentum from their first ARC round win at Lightforce Rally SA into Rally Australia and will use every bit of home-town crowd support along they can get.

“One of the best feelings in the world is driving in front of the people you have grown up with,” said Quinn.

Of his home-town advantage, Quinn explained: “There are pros and cons of it and I’m sure every driver at a local event goes through the same thing.

“Probably the only real advantage I have is that everyone sitting on the side of the road could be cheering for me, whether I’ve met them at the pub, went to school with them.”

A win will not be enough to hand 31-year-old Quinn the championship, he will need to gain maximum points and hope that other ARC regulars such as Eli Evans, Andrew Penny, Peter Dunn and Lewis Bates can leapfrog Taylor and help him bridge the 30-point gap.

The five finalists in the ARC2 class will have a battle of their own on their hands. The three Subaru Impreza WRXs of Craig Brooks, Tony Sullens and John O’Dowd will fight it out for the 4WD title while the 2WD title will be between Nathaniel Dillon and Stephen Mee.

Having already claimed the ARC 2WD title, Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penny will be focusing on a strong finish for the year and the ARC Classic Challenge will again be a crowd-pleaser, with the likes of Datsun 1600s and Ford Escorts in action.

Rally Australia starts on Friday with the 31 cars contesting the ARC class covering eight stages and 113.42 competitive kilometres on day one.

Saturday covers a further eight stages over 140.27 kilometres, before the event wraps up on Sunday afternoon after five stages and 64.64 kilometres.