Canberra has welcomed more than 20 crews to the official pre-season test day for the 2022 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, with excitement building for April’s Netier National Capital Rally.
The test day also saw Red Bull’s Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Glen Weston enjoy their first drive of the Skoda Fabia R5 the Supercars Champion will steer in the opening round.
A number of rallies biggest names were also on show in Kowen Forest, with rainy conditions greeting the drivers.
There was no official timing on the day, but the competition was certainly fierce with drivers eager to show their 2022 rides are ready to make a mark this year.
2019 Champions and Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy were at the test, showcasing their brand new Toyota GR Yaris AP4 livery, alongside teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin.
Harry, who also picked up RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Cups during interrupted 2020 and 2021 seasons, said he this year’s Championship was highly anticipated.
“We had a really good day and it was great to get some wet running in. We haven’t really ever had to put a wet setup on in this car so it was good opportunity to do that. Also how to see how the Hoosier tyre performer in the wet, which performed well,” Bates said.
“We had to make a few changes throughout the day but I’m very happy with how everything performed.
“I think there is no doubting that we’re going into to this year with stiffer competition than previous years and that excites me. I encourage all competition and it drives me to do better.
“Can’t wait to get on the first stage on the Netier National Capital Rally.”
Meanwhile, van Gisbergen was eager to get plenty of testing time under his belt as he prepares for his Australian rallying debut at the Netier National Capital Rally.
“It’s been pretty difficult but the car did nothing wrong and its much better than the driver,” van Gisbergen said.
“There are some big jumps out there, but I am just learning what the car can take and how it feels. Now I know the roads so I have to start again to learn the pace notes.
Sitting in it (Skoda Fabia R5), it’s pretty basic but it’s so refined. It’s a proper race car. It does everything you want and it’s well set up.
“We haven’t changed anything – just going up and down on tyre pressures so I can feel what the difference of that is but really I am just driving it and learning. If you’re not committed, it punishes you so I have had to get into it.”
There was strong representation across all classes, with competitors from the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup, Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup, Glendun ARC Junior Cup and the Classic Cup.