Clarke leading ARC charge in Oberon

With the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship running the second round of its 2022 season this weekend, there will be a handful of RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) drivers keeping themselves busy at the event.

Taking place in the forests of Oberon, the Midstate Freight Oberon Stages Rally will have 50 crews competing in the 10-stage event, 31 of which are registered for the state championship.

While ARC legends Neal Bates and Coral Taylor are no doubt one of the main attractions on the impressive entry list, there are also a few other names familiar to rally fans around the country.

Headlining the current crop of ARC listed crews is White Wolf Racing’s Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston – the duo having finished fifth outright in the Netier National Capital Rally earlier this month.

Although they will be keen to continue with their rich run of form from Canberra, they will not be doing it in the same Ford Fiesta R5 they usually campaign the ARC in.

Instead, they will use this weekend to start their preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Alpine Rally which takes place later this year and bring out a new 1981 Datsun Stanza.

“I am absolutely looking forward to this weekend as it’s been a while since I have been in a classic car. In fact, I have probably been in a classic car maybe two or three times in five years,” Clarke said.

“We’re really excited because this is a rally that is close to home and we have picked up a new car, which hasn’t done any time on a gravel road, so this is the perfect place to test it.

“Oberon also has a special place in my heart because it was my first ever rally and I have done it six or seven times so for me, the roads are really good out there.

“I have no expectations, but I just want to get the car around to where it is supposed to be and hopefully have a crack at the 2WD Championship if things go well.”

Other crews familiar to ARC fans entered in the event include Canberra’s Glendun ARC Junior Cup winner James Dimmock, along with Dean Ridge, Peter Dimmock and Timothy Wilkins.

Having won this event twice, Wilkins will enter the event with even more confidence than before after he finished sixth outright in Canberra.

“There are some pretty good names in the entry list, especially Tony (Sullens), but for me I am more looking forward to getting the car and getting some redemption for Canberra,” Wilkins said.

“A few top guys are going but I think it will end up alright for us and we would like to try and win this weekend. We have done it before so I think it’s possible, we can do it again.

“With that said, unfortunately Tony has bought an AP4 and that makes him the benchmark of the course. We ourselves have made some adjustments but hopefully it doesn’t take us long to find our speed.

“These roads suit us and I love the idea of a blind rally, so I am looking forward to getting on the road book and having a crack.”

The 2022 Midstate Freight Oberon Stages Rally takes place in Oberon on Saturday 23 April.