Richie Dalton believes his new set of wheels will go a long way in helping him secure RSEA Safety Motorsport Australian Rally Championship (ARC) podiums in 2021, starting with this weekend’s Netier National Capital Rally.
The New South Wales based driver will enter the first round of the ARC in Harry Bates’ 2019 ARC winning Toyota Yaris AP4 having recently purchased the speedy machine from Neal Bates Motorsport.
While this weekend will be the first official ARC round Dalton contests in the new car after replacing his Ford Fiesta G4, the Shamrock Motorsport driver has already managed to enjoy some success in the Yaris – steering it to a Blue Range Rally sprint victory earlier this year.
Despite not having a good track record in Canberra, the Irishman remains confident in the Toyota Yaris and was hoping for a good result alongside co-driver Dale Moscatt.
“The car is seriously every bit as good as I thought it would be,” Dalton said.
“It’s so strong right across the board, and gives you plenty of confidence.
“We drove the rallysprint using Harry’s set-up, and while you need to be more aggressive than what I have been in recent times, you can trust the car a lot more.
“It’s about 150kg lighter than the Fiesta I previously drove, so you can brake later, throw it in and it just handles everything superbly.
“This car is a joy to drive and just puts a smile on your face, so I can’t wait to get started.
“We won’t be worrying too much about the Toyota factory cars of Harry and Lewis Bates, but if we can get through unscathed and grab a good handful of points, then we’ll come away happy.
“If we can get it clean and tidy, then a top three finish is certainly possible.”
Sporting a brand new Neal Bates Motorsport engine, Dalton will enter the event as one of the main contenders for not just the season opener, but the ARC as a whole.
Like many crews who had an interrupted 2020 due to COVID-19, Dalton hasn’t been able to get as much seat time as he would have liked, having competed in only three events since October 2019.
However with many crews under the same circumstance, Dalton believed a good start was imperative to a good result.
“I’m sure everyone will be quite rusty over the first few stages, so it will be a matter of hitting the ground running and putting ourselves in a good position early,” he said.
“From there we will aim to maintain our speed and see where we end up.”
The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship’s season opener takes place in Canberra from 10-11 April with a special rally show to take place on Friday night.
Photos: Wishart Media