Hayes’ Commodore a sure fan-favourite at Tassie

Victorian husband-and-wife team Ben and Cathy Hayes are out to have fun at Subaru Rally Tasmania at the end of July.

The pair will swap their Subaru WRX STi for their recently purchased VE SS Commodore and expect to gain some fans as they guide the big beast around the forests of Launceston.

“I used to run an early model Commodore back in the early 2000s and we had a really good following,” explained Hayes.

“We were leading the Rally of Melbourne in 2003 in the $6000 Commodore, so that was probably one of the best really experiences I’ve ever had. It had a real underdog sort of following, and commentators were working up the crowd with the Commodore coming and all that until it broke on day two which was a shame.

“I miss that, it’ll be cool to get out there and throw lots of rocks and have fun in Tassie so I’m hoping some of the roads are big enough, given that this is a more current model and bigger than the old VC Commodore I was running years ago that was still reasonably capable on a tight road.

“This thing is going to be a bit of a boat in the tight stuff but from what I’ve read one of the days is more faster open roads…it will be nice to have a bit of a go and see how far up the leaderboard we can get on some of the faster stages.”

The Commodore was previously run in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) by John Bruinsma back in 2011, and was last run at the 2016 Classic Outback Trial.

“It’s a reasonably current shape with the six-litre V8 and the Hollinger sequential box so as far as all the bits that are in it, it’s a really good thing but it’s still a very heavy car so it’s not the sort of thing that is going to compete with 4WD turbo cars,” Hayes said.

“Spectator-wise it should be one of the favourites I would think.”

The Hayes team competed in round one of the ARC, The Courier Eureka Rally, finishing in 11th outright, and fourth in ARC2. The pair struggled in the Subaru Impreza WRX STi after hitting a tree during heat one.

“We hit a tree fairly hard in stage two at Eureka and we battled for the rest of the weekend off the pace so we didn’t get a very good result,” Hayes said.

“I figured at that stage that that was our ARC2 over but after seeing where the points sat we thought maybe it mathematically might still be possible for us to qualify [for the ARC2 final] but we will see what happens at Tassie.

“I was always going to do Tassie as my next one being that it was reasonably easy to get to, I only live 45 minutes form the Spirit of Tasmania.

“And being a different event that no one has done for some time, I thought it was a good one to choose.”

Ben and Cathy are currently leading the Victorian Rally Championship (VRC) in the Subaru and while their home state title is the priority, they have some plans in the pipeline.

“The aim for us at the moment is to win the VRC then next year we are booked in to do Otago in New Zealand with the Commodore and just pick and choose more interesting events that we want to do I think, maybe not commit to a particular championship.

“We’ll take the commodore to Coffs regardless of if we qualify or not, it’s a bucket list thing to say we’ve done a WRC.”

The Subaru Rally Tasmania will take place in the forests surrounding Launceston on 27-29 July.