The entry list for the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland has been confirmed with a huge field of 29 ARC registered crews to take on the second round of the 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season.
With the Gympie based event also hosting a round of the Motorsport Australia Queensland Rally Championship (QRC) and Clubman Series, a further 49 crews will be contesting the new event, taking the total number of crews to 78.
Many of Australia’s best rally drivers who featured in last month’s Netier National Capital Rally make up the diverse ARC field, while some new notable names have also confirmed their place in the round after missing the season opener.
Headlining the entry list are reigning champions and current leaders Harry Bates and John McCarthy, who will keen to continue their progress from last month – as will their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin.
Fresh from her epic victory in the inaugural Extreme E Series in Saudi Arabia, 2016 Champion Molly Taylor will make her first championship appearance for the year. Driving the Orange Motorsport Engineering Subaru WRX STI alongside long-time co-driver Malcolm Read, the duo are also the top seed for the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup.
Production Cup winners Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith also return for Rally Queensland, looking to go back-to-back after an impressive outright ARC podium at the season opening round in Canberra.
Having finished fourth outright and second in Production Cup behind Quinn and Winwood-Smith last month, Western Victorian Crane Trucks’ Arron Windus and Daniel Brkic will be gearing up for another strong showing, as will Troy Dowell – the youngster claiming his best ever result in Canberra with fifth outright.
Like Taylor, Marcus Walkem will take part in his first outing for the year after missing the opening round – the Tasmanian to steer the Hyundai Dealer Team Hyundai i30 R5 alongside John Allen.
Walkem will be behind the wheel for one of three R5 cars on the roads in Queensland, with Luke Anear continuing his rise up the ranks in the AGI Rallysport Ford Fiesta alongside Andy Sarandis. Motorsport all-rounder Tony Quinn is also reunited with his Mk2 Fiesta R5 alongside Kate Catford.
Glenn Brinkman is another driver confirmed to make his first appearance for the year with the Queensland native to steer his Accent Benchtops Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 alongside Stephen Richardson.
The ARC Junior Cup also expands for Queensland, with Max McRae set to make his ARC debut aboard a Ford Fiesta R2 and take on the likes of Ryan Williams, Ryan Poel and Aidan Peterson.
McRae and Williams also crossover into the Shamrock Haulauge 2WD Cup, with the Fiesta R2 of Dean Ridge and Hugh Taylor making it a trio of Fiesta R2 as the top 2WD seeds.
As for the QRC crews only running in Saturday’s six heats, reigning champions Ian Menzies and Robert McGowan lead the solid field in their Bespoke Metals Evo 9.
Their biggest challengers will come in the form of Inverted Motorsport’s Tristan Carrigan and Neil Woolley in another Evo and Viking Excavations’ Eric Johnson and Larissa Biggar in the Subaru WRX Sti.
Clerk of Course Brian Everitt was thrilled with the impressive entry list.
“We’re absolutely stoked with the amount of entries we have received for Queensland’s first ARC round since 2016,” Everitt said.
“To have such a strong field too is a great for the sport and Queensland rally fans, who no doubt will love to see the best rally crews in Australia do battle on our roads.
“It’s also a great turnout from Queensland based competitors so we’re very excited and can’t wait to host the second round of the ARC.
“I must also recognise all the sponsors who have thrown their support behind this event and all the officials who have been volunteering time to make sure this big occasion goes well.”
The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 21-23 May.
Photo: Jack Martin Photography