Big field to tackle ARC opener

The official entry list for the 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season opener has been released with more than 50 crews to line up for the Netier National Capital Rally.

New cars, returning champions and a mix of up-and-coming talent makes up the 34 ARC entries, one of the largest national fields in recent years. Competitors competing solely for the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship, East Coast Classic Series and ACT Regional Rally Series make up the other 19 entries.

Taking place in and around the forests of Canberra, crews will take on more than 160 competitive kilometres across 14 gruelling stages, including the special Hyles Block Power Stage, which wraps up the event.

2019 ARC champions Harry Bates and John McCarthy will begin their title defence at the front of the pack in the brand new Toyota Yaris GR AP4, while their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin will run the two-day rally right behind the champions also in the new machinery.

There will be four Toyota Yaris AP4s in the round’s first three cars as Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt get behind the wheel of Harry Bates’ former Yaris – a car he steered to victory in the Blue Range Rallysprint earlier this month, while Lewis’ Yaris will be driven by Peter Dimmock and Russell Hannah.

Arron Windus and Daniel Brick will begin the season as the fourth seeded car, the Western Victorian Crane Trucks Subaru WRX pilots to start in front of 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn and his co-driver Ray Winwood-Smith in the Midstate Freight Mitsubishi Evo 10.

The two crews also enter the round as the highest ranked White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup entrants, which see a further six cars part of the top 15.

Marcus Walkem marks his return to the ARC behind the wheel of the Hyundai Dealer Team Hyundai i20 alongside John Allen as the sixth seeded car, while AGI Motorsport’s Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis will contest the rally just behind in seventh in a brand new Ford Fiesta R5.

Plenty of star power make up the next five cars including Clayton Hoy, Darren Windus, Chris Higgs, Tom Clarke and JJ Hatton – all of whom will be keen to break into the outright top five throughout the weekend as well as take out Production Cup honours and the prizemoney on offer for the latter, thanks to White Wolf Constructions.

Just outside the first 20 cars will be what is expected to be a highly entertaining battle for the new Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup and the Junior Cup between two up and coming crews, Victorians Adrian Stratford and Kain Manning against Queenslanders Ryan Williams and Brad Jones.

Having made an impressive ARC debut at last year’s Netier National Capital Rally, Williams and Jones recently acquired a Ford Fiesta R2T from overseas and will definitely be a team to keep an eye on.

Click here to view the Netier National Capital Rally seeded entry list.

The Netier National Capital Rally takes place in Canberra on 26-28 March.

Photo: Sportz Fotos