JJ Hatton believes next month’s AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay will be the perfect platform to prepare himself for this year’s RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) opener in September.
Hatton is no stranger to performing on the biggest stage and is a regular competitor in both the ARC and the MTA Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship, often battling towards the front end of the field.
However, it’s been a long time between drinks for the Irishman who, like many other rally specialists around the country hasn’t been able to compete since September 2019 after Kennards Hire Rally Australia was cancelled due to the Australian bushfires.
For Hatton though, the thought of being in the car in less than one month is an exciting prospect and one where he was considering adjusting his preparation methods for.
“I have been really busy working as of late and haven’t even seen my car since October as it lives in Melbourne,” Hatton said.
“We were all kitted out ready to go for Rally Australia, but it got cancelled. I even had friends from Ireland down to watch but unfortunately that is the way it is, so I am itching for Rally of the Bay.
“It’s very important to have a good outing next month and I have decided I am actually going to study for this event. I might even watch some in-car footage ahead of it too. That is how keen I am.
“I also think I will study hard for September’s Netier National Capital Rally because if I do well in Canberra, I may continue in the rest of the ARC season, although it also depends on sponsors.
“For Rally of the Bay, I am having a test day on the Thursday along with the Bates brothers and the Activ Rallysport crew, before heading to recce on the Friday and competing on the Saturday. I am that excited that I probably won’t get around the first corner of testing,” he joked.
Hatton, along with Harry and Lewis Bates are just a few of the big names entered into what is a very impressive entry list for the MTA Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship’s season opener, with around 90 crews expected to enter the event.
With a number of ARC competitors using the New South Wales round as a key test for the September’s ARC opener, Hatton is hopeful of having a good crack at the event, which will set up his strong charge in the ARC.
“The Rally of the Bay has an unbelievable entry list. It’s almost as if we are in an ARC event,” Hatton added.
“There are a few people missing like John O Dowd, but really it’s almost like a dress rehearsal for Canberra later this year because there are many ARC crews listed.
“To be honest, the first one or two stages in Batemans Bay are going to be intense because every crew is going to try and outdo everyone else.
“Because the ARC is a four-round championship this year, I think it’s going to be a bit more even and everyone is going to be coming into the first round pretty fresh, even those competing next month.
“I know I am capable of mixing it with the best and that is what I will be aiming to do next month and again in Canberra later this year.”
The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay takes place in Batemans Bay on 4 July, while the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship gets underway on 26-27 September with the Netier National Capital Rally in Canberra