The White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup will resume at this month’s The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally with a strong field of 10 crews confirmed to contest the cup.
Headlining the ARC Production Cup are two of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship’s (ARC) most consistent performers this season in Bodie Reading and Steve Maguire.
While Reading will have regular co-driver Mark Young alongside him in their Subaru WRX STi, Maguire will welcome a new partner for the event, with West Australian Ben Searcy to call the notes in their Mitsubishi Evo.
With three rounds already complete, Reading and Maguire are the clear front runners for the Cup with just 10 points separating the two in Reading’s favour.
A further 70 points off in third place is ARC rookie Gandewa Sanders – the Indonesian driver and experienced co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino eager to continue their stellar first season together.
Another notable name enjoying their first full season in the ARC entered in the Cup are Ben and Cathy Hayes.
While the husband-and-wife duo have completed multiple ARC rounds in previous years, this month’s Gippsland Rally will mark a milestone round for them, their fourth event of the 2023 season and the most in any one season.
The Subaru BRZ pilots also sit in fourth place on the standings, just 30 points off Sanders in the Cup – although they do lead the ARC 2WD Cup after three impressive outings in 2023.
Just one more crew out of the 10 ARC Production Cup entrants have registered points for the 2023 season so far, and just like all four drivers above, have completed the most ARC rounds in one season in their careers.
Behind the wheel of a Subaru WRX STi, Nathan Stokes and Ian Wheeler have run in two of three rounds in 2023, having scored top 10 results in both of their completed heats.
While they also failed to finish Heat 1 of the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston and had mechanical drama in the first heat of the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, the season has still been a success for Stokes, who continues to develop his craft.
“It’s our first year doing the ARC tour and it’s been quite fun, but we are really looking forward to Victoria as it will be our first-time doing gravel rally there,” Stokes said.
“We are all about having fun this year, which are one of our three major goals for this season, as well as finishing event and learning the car more, which in turn helps practice and gain more skills.
“We are not really chasing wins or anything but if a good result comes my way, I am not going to be unhappy either, because we are looking to grow in the ARC and continue in the future.
“We are really enjoying it. It’s hard work when you are out there, but I love it – especially since we are up against a lot of like-minded people.
“As for the competition, I think Bodie and Steve are the clear favourites – I’d be silly to say I am not looking at how they go about things and trying to learn off them too, because like me, they operate on a smaller budget than the factory teams.
“With that said, it’s nice to see them doing so well, especially Bodie, who is having a breakout year. He has done so well this year, and it’s only a matter of time before someone will realise his potential and give him a top spec car to have a crack at the outright title.”
Other crews to look out for include Kelly Thomas and Stephanie Esterbauer, who will be making their ARC debuts outside of their home state of WA, and Victorians Daniel Traverso and Anthony Carr.
Traverso and Carr lead the Victorian charge in the Cup, which is made up of some talented crews, including Brad Till and Mitch Garrad, Nicholas Seymour and Matthew Whitten and Christopher Fitzgerald and Ashley Ewers.
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally takes place in Heyfield and Gippsland on 25-27 August.