The 2023 The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally will see the ARC 2WD Cup pick up where it left off in Queensland, with Ben Hayes and Josh Wiedman to continue their exciting title fight.
While Hayes and co-driver Cathy Hayes have the advantage over their younger rivals in Wiedman and co-driver Nick Reid, the two crews have enjoyed entertaining battles during the opening half of the season.
After three completed rounds, Hayes has a commanding 130-point lead over Wiedman having won all three rounds, however the standings tell a much different story to what has actually transpired so far – especially since the final tally will only consider a crew’s best four results for the season.
Wiedman and Reid have just contested two rounds so far, May’s Make Smoking History Forest Rally and last month’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, while the Hayes have run all three – winning the season opener in Launceston.
In the two rounds they have been up against each other though, both crews have notched up two heat wins apiece; however it’s been the Subaru BRZ of the Hayes who have claimed the wins for the events overall.
For Ben, the fight with Wiedman has been quite entertaining and although he has the advantage now, the Victorian was wary that the teenager’s Ford Fiesta may be better suited this weekend.
“It’s been a good fight with Josh and it’s a lot closer when you consider the drop rounds that will come into effect,” Ben said.
“Josh is going really well and because there isn’t too much in it, we can usually tell how we’re both going to go ahead of a stage – as we are quicker on tight stuff and they are quicker on the fast stages.
“Gippsland had a lot of fast stuff from what I remember and even though it’s our home rally, I have no doubt Josh will be quick.
“We’re going to take it as it comes though. We will go as hard as we can, but we’re not taking any risks and if there is an opportunity to push for the win later on, then we will.
“With this round being an endurance event, our aim is to be consistent as we have for the past three rounds.”
Wiedman echoed the Cup leader’s comments and admitted that the competition between the two was what drives him at each round.
“It’s been real good competition with Ben and I have enjoyed it a lot” Wiedman added.
“We have had lots of back and forth between the two of us – especially in Queensland where I’d be quicker on one stage, and then he’d be quicker on the next one.
“The rivalry makes it so much better and gives us a lot to fight for. It’s good to have the competition in the same class, because we are not going for the outright win.
“Unfortunately, we have had some issues at the moments where we keep losing boost and that’s what has prevented us from having a clean run.
“Hopefully we have fixed it now because we need to have an event where we don’t have issues and I am hopeful that it will be this weekend.”
Just one other crew is competing alongside the two 2WD contenders, with Nicholas Seymour and Matthew Whitten to be behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta of their own.
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally takes place in Gippsland and Heyfield on 26-27 August, while the event kicks off with a Rally Show in Sale at 4pm AEST on Friday 25 August.