James Dimmock is the latest driver to confirm a spot at the Buckby ŠKODA RALLY Launceston with the Canberran to take a step up in Tasmania and beyond.
Having contested the 2022 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R200 in the ARC 2WD Cup, Dimmock will now upgrade to a Toyota Yaris AP4.
The opportunity arose for Dimmock when his father Peter decided to reduce his rally program for 2023 in order to run a Datsun 240z at selected rounds of the season.
With Dimmock hoping to run a full campaign this year, he becomes the latest name to make the switch to Toyota, with fellow rookie Jamie Luff also running a Yaris AP4 in 2023, albeit the Luff’s in a newer model.
Having already completed one test in his new set of wheels with the help of Neal Bates Motorsport, the 26-year-old has another one booked towards the end of the month as he prepares to make the step up into the big leagues.
“We’re quite excited about having a similar car to some of the top guys in Australia and being able to compare ourselves to them,” Dimmock said.
“We were actually quite fortunate with timing as the plan was to run in 2WD again this year before dad decided to move to the Datsun.
“Once the opportunity arose, I thought it would have been mad of me not to take the challenge considering how well we went in 2WD last year – I figured that was the best step for us in terms of progress.
“We had a test earlier this month and it was just about coming to terms with grip and the acceleration of the car, as well as being left hand drive. Basically, to improve those things, it’s about getting time in the car, which we haven’t had.
“Other than that, testing was really good and I definitely enjoyed it – especially having the al Bates Motorsport team there helping me come to grips with the car.
“The true test will be when we are testing on gravel in a few weeks. I think that will give us a good indication, as Tassie will.”
With no major goal necessarily in mind, Dimmock will enter Tasmania with very little expectations about topping stage times early on.
However, thanks to a solid year in 2022 where he picked up multiple class podiums and a class victory at the Adelaide Hills Rally, Dimmock will have plenty of confidence for this season.
“At the start of last year, our goal was to get a podium in 2WD, so to win a round was an awesome experience – I never would have thought that I would be in a 4WD this year,” Dimmock added.
“Now we don’t have much expectation this year and because it’s my first drive in a 4WD, the first few rounds will be purely a learning experience.
“With that said, it would be very nice to get some top 10 finishes and to make the EROAD Power Stage, but we will have to wait and see.
“We look back fondly on our year in 2022 and we’re looking forward to the challenge of this year and knowing that Tassie roads are awesome.
“The long-term goal is to work my way up the ranks, but for the moment, we just want to see how we progress over the next few rounds.”
The Buckby ŠKODA RALLY Launceston takes place in and around the forests of Launceston on 24-26 March.