Clarke hopeful for solid Caves Classic outing

The MTA Motorsport Australia New South Wales Rally Championship runs its second round for 2020 this weekend with around 45 crews heading to Oberon for the Midstate Freight Caves Classic Rally.

Hosted by the North Shore Sporting Car Club, the rally will see crews take on 127 competitive kilometres across nine stages with a number of the latter stages to be run under the twilight sky.

With the last round, the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay, held in July, it’s a busy finish to the year for the NSW Championship with the Monaro Stages later this month, while the final round will take place in November, part of the Netier National Capital Rally.

In an impressive entry list made up of 2017 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Champion (ARC) Nathan Quinn, current ARC regular Andrew Penny and future star Taylor Gill, all eyes will be on the White Wolf Racing Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Tom Clarke and new co-driver, Jim Gleeson.

Click here to view the entry list.

Of the top five from July’s season opener, which included ARC stars Harry Bates, Lewis Bates and Luke Anear, Clarke is the only driver who has returned for this weekend’s rally, meaning a good result here could put him in the box seat for his maiden state title.

Standing in his way are the likes of Tony Sullens, Mal Keough and Tim Joass, all of whom finished Batemans Bay in the top 10, as well as Penny and Quinn – with the latter hoping to make amends for a retirement.

For Clarke though, who has been in a title winning position before, he was not getting ahead of himself and was focused on getting a good result.

“With the year being quite slow on the event front, this is only our second rally for the year so to say I am itching to get out there is an understatement,” Clarke said.

“I am confident about getting a good result and we definitely have the speed to do it, but it’s a matter of if we can get everything to come together and the car does what it needs to do.

“Outside of Nathan Quinn and Andrew Penny, Mal can be pretty quick as can Tim and Justin (Griffin) in his Toyota. I have seen what he can do over the years and he can throw relative quick times here.

“I think anyone one of those guys can jump on the back of me and give me a push. I can’t be too complacent because, while I know I am fair in front of most them, I can’t back off too much. Just as long as I keep the hammer down and try and win it by as much as I can.

“A win here would be very good for my title hopes. We have had years where we have been leading the championship or been thereabouts, but then small mechanical failures late in the season caused us to drop out of the running.

“Hopefully this is the year we can get through clean enough and finally put a trophy on the mantel piece because it’s been sitting there in front of me and has eluded me, so I am really looking forward to hopefully get a good result this weekend.”

The event begins from 1pm on Saturday with the last car to go through the last stage at 7pm AEDT. As a result of COVID-19, there will be no spectators, but fans can keep up to date through Rally NSW.

Outside of the MTA Motorsport Australia New South Wales Rally Championship, the East Coast Classic Rally Series, Techworkz NSW Clubman Rally Series and Hyundai Rally Series will also be running.

The Midstate Freight Caves Classic Rally takes place in Oberon, New South Wales on Saturday 10 October.