In his first year running in the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC), Ryan Poel is getting pretty comfortable competing at the top level.
The South Australian has completed both ARC rounds this year and sits right inside the top 20 with 31 championship points to his name, while also sitting seventh in White Wolf Constructions Production Cup.
In his debut at the Netier National Capital Rally, Poel steered his Subaru Impreza RS to a respectable 12th place alongside co-driver Rebekah Cutting, before placing inside the top 20 for both heats in Queensland.
With Poel having finished every rally stage this year, the youngster was enjoying a good start to his national career.
“It’s been really fun competing against Australia’s best rally drivers and some really fast machinery, but of course it’s quite challenging,” Poel said.
“Both the conditions and road surfaces are a lot different to what I am used to in SA, so that has also been an enjoyable challenge.
“Rebekah is only in her second year so we’re both learning a bit actually. Our pace notes and general pace has come a long way in just two rounds.
“We actually haven’t had too much to do with the other competitors, especially the big teams, however it’s been good seeing how they all work in the Service Park and some of those things we have taken on board ourselves.
“I can definitely say that we learnt a lot from Canberra and we were able to implement that into Gympie – I am happy where we finished and how we’re tracking after two rounds.”
While he may have had a better result in Canberra, he produced a more complete performance in the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland – securing a combined ARC Junior Cup podium in the process.
The result saw the 25-year-old slot into second on the Cup’s standings and just 12 points off the leader in Ryan Williams.
One of Poel’s major ambitions heading into the ARC this year was to see where he stacked up against some of the younger drivers in the ARC Junior Cup.
As this year is more of a learning year, Poel is hopeful of getting as much seat time as he can and possibly securing some silverware in the junior category.
“The motivation behind us joining the ARC this year was that because I am 25, it is the last year that I am eligible to run in the Junior Cup, so it was our only chance to see where we stack up against drivers my level at national level,” Poel explained.
“We knew it was going to be an interrupted year, so that’s why we haven’t put our eggs in one basket this year.
“I’d like to think we have a chance of ARC Junior Cup even though we aren’t as fast as M-Sport, but we’re aiming to finish every rally so hopefully we stay in contention.
“We’re currently second behind Ryan and, not that I wish anything bad to happen to him, but if he retires in one of the next rounds, it will open up the door for us to get a lead.
“So the plan for us is to keep doing what we’re doing and try win the ARC Junior Cup, then do a few rounds next year before going for a full championship charge in 2023.”
The next round of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship is Rally Tasmania on 10–12 September.
Photos: CH Images