State News: Kirup key in WARC title fight

Time is running out for title hopefuls in the CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC) with only three rounds remaining in the season.

With the Wheels on Yirrigan Kumho Tyre Kirup Stages to be taking place this weekend, reigning state champion John O’Dowd holds a comfortable 127-point lead at the top after claiming the opening three rounds so far.

The WARC’s fourth round will see a healthy field of 32 competitors tackle 132 competitive kilometres across six special stages in the picturesque area of Kirup, around 50 kilometres south-east of Bunbury.

Despite the area receiving a large amount of rainfall in recent times, Clerk of Course Tony Floyd believes the event’s stages are still in great condition. 

“We were driving on them yesterday and the grip levels are quite good. There’s certainly some big puddles, there definitely slippery bits, but overall, the stages are in pretty good condition,” Floyd said. 

“We’re expecting showers tomorrow, enough to clean their windscreens. I’d recommend competitors have a good set of windscreen wipers. 

“The roads are magic, the competitors should have a fantastic rally.” 

While O’Dowd has been in incredible form so far on a state level alongside co-driver Toni Feaver in the Truck Wholesale Skoda Fabia R5, he believes the championship is not done just yet.

“We still have a long way to go in the championship, that’s for sure,” O’Dowd said. 

“Craig Rando did a great job at the last round at Boddington, and Stephen Oxley and Ben Searcy will both be back for Kirup.

“All of these guys are fast and ready to take advantage of any mistakes we make. So I’ll have to be at the top of my game.

“The challenge of these one-day events is that if you do make a mistake, with an ‘off’ or if you break something on the car, you’re playing ‘catch up’ for the whole event. There’s no second day to make up time.”

Making his first competitive appearance in the WARC on the Kirup stages is long-time rally administrator David Smith, who will be alongside Keian Guy in the 2WD S ‘n’ G Motorsport / Targa West Daihatsu Charade and the debutant was excited to get behind the wheel.

“After 20 years or so of helping to organise rallies, it was about time that I had a drive myself to see what all the fuss was about,” Smith explained.

“After a private testing session last weekend I thought I should have done this year, and not that I have crossed to the dark side and become a driver, I have already prepared a range of excuses in case I need them this weekend.”

Rally fans wanting to make their way to the forests to get a glimpse of the action can head to Snakey for stages one and four, as well as New Dragon for stages two and five. 

With the service park located at the Jim McDonald Oval and spectators able to attend to get up close and personal, the first scheduled car to scheduled to leave at 1pm local time.

Click here for more information on the Wheels on Yirrigan Kumho Tyre Kirup Stages.