After a difficult start to the 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton will be hoping for some redemption at this weekend’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland.
Behind the wheel of his new Neal Bates Motorsport prepared Toyota Yaris AP4, the same car driven by Harry Bates during his title winning year of 2019, Dalton didn’t get an ideal start to the season at last month’s Netier National Capital Rally.
Following on from a slowish opening two stages, the New South Wales based driver found rhythm from stage three onwards and was on track for a fourth place finish, before a suspension failure caused him an off with just three stages remaining.
It was a sad way to end the first round of the year, however the car has since been repaired ahead of the second round, which will see the best crews in Australia competing in Queensland for the first time since 2016.
For the optimistic Dalton, this weekend will prove the perfect opportunity to get his season back on track.
“It really was a heartbreaking way to end the first round, because we hadn’t put a wheel wrong all rally,” Dalton said.
“But sometimes that’s how it goes in rallying and we came away with nothing more than a repair bill for the car.
“It’s (the new Queensland round) exciting. Competing in a new event is always a great challenge, and when it’s new for everyone it makes it a real unknown.
“The team that writes the best pace notes and adapts to the new stages the best will come away with the rewards.”
Ahead of the weekend, Dalton and co-driver Dale Moscatt will complete testing along with a number of other crews, before completing their pre-event reconnaissance on Friday.
With the Yaris in mint condition, Dalton was confident of its capabilities and was looking forward to getting back out on the road.
“We knew this year was going to be a learning one and so far that’s proved to be the case,” Dalton added.
“However, we know the car has the speed and if we put together a solid drive over the 12 stages in Queensland, we’re confident that we can push for a podium finish.”
The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 22-23 May.