After two months of no action, the Dunlop Tyres Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship (WARC) resumes this weekend with the 2021 Grimwade Rally.
Taking place around the forests of Egan Park and the Grimwade Plantation on Saturday, 38 crews will be taking on eight stages over a competitive distance of 123 kilometres.
The third meeting of the 2021 season will also be playing host to the third round of the Clubman Masters / Clubman Cup Series, which will be running just the first four stages of the day.
With the last round of the WARC being the popular Make Smoking History Forest Rally back in May, the season is reaching the midway point and the battle at the top of the table starting to heat up.
Truck Wholesale WA’s John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver lead the way after a dominant start to the year, which saw them win the opening round at Bakers Hill before claiming both Heats during the Forest Rally.
However, the second placed Ben Searcy has significantly reduced the gap on the Skoda Fabia R5 in terms of pace, having won multiple stages across a number of rounds in 2020 and this year already.
Despite closing in on O’Dowd, Searcy still trails by 30 points on the standings and will need to start turning stage wins into outright event wins should he want to prevent O’Dowd from securing another title.
“We’re looking forward to getting back out there on Saturday as June’s Safari Rally was cancelled, so it’s been quite a while for all of us,” Searcy said.
“We haven’t been to Grimwade for a couple of years now due to last year’s cancellation but when we did run, it was pouring with rain and I was the first car out, so we were going through uncharted territory, however we were still quick which gives us hope.
“John (O’Dowd) is driving really well now and it’s always a challenge to beat him, but we will definitely have a crack as I think we’re in reach.
“We have steadily closed that gap over the last few years now that we constantly beat him on stages, so it’s definitely doable – we just need to come out of the blocks and push on early.
“It’s been raining non-stop in WA for the past four weeks, so I suspect it will be wet and slippery, but we’re quite good in the rain so from a driving perspective I don’t mind if it rains, however for the sake of my crew and the officials, I hope it doesn’t.
“Grimwade is a fun little rally. The roads are clean and exciting and the conditions are very good. They are a great representation of all the nice roads of our championship.”
Outside of the top two contenders, there are a number of crews who are likely to be in the running for round honours too.
Those crews include Craig Rando and Stephen Wade in the Rando Constructions Subaru Impreza, rookie Jack Flanagan and Camden Puzey in the DiCandilo Steel City Subaru Impreza and MAXYrally.com.au’s Razvan and Ioana Vlad, who have been enjoying a solid season in the WARC since moving up from 2WD into an AP4.
Young Max McRae will also be keen for a good result after the teenager made an impressive RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship debut at the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland in May.
Spectators will be treated to quite a show throughout the day with both passes of Munro Tower and Two Mile to be open to rally fans, as will the Service Park pre and post event and during the service break.
The 2021 Grimwade Rally takes place around Egan Park and the Grimwade Plantation on Saturday 24 July.