Australia’s best rally crews will make the trip to Gympie this weekend as the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland hosts the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship.
With the event cancelled in 2022 due to weather conditions, we have to go back to 2021 for the last time the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland hosted the ARC.
Split over two Heats, the 2021 Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland enjoyed plenty of anticipation for its return to the ARC after multiple years off the calendar.
Reigning ARC champions Harry Bates and John McCarthy went into the round as the championship leaders after winning a challenging Netier National Capital Rally earlier in the year.
The duo would go onto dominate the event from start to finish, winning every single stage across the weekend.
Their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin finished in the top three for both heats, finishing second ahead of 2016 ARC champion Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read in Saturday’s first heat.
It was a different crew occupying second place at the end of Sunday’s Heat with Victorians Arron Windus and Daniel Brkic edging out Lewis and McLoughlin by just nine seconds.
Courtesy of a second and third place across both days it, the Lewis who finished as runner-up overall, while Windus rounded out the podium after finishing Heat 1 in fourth.
The first heat on Saturday saw Harry and McCarthy produce a masterclass performance – his six stage wins earning him a one-minute victory over his Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammate Lewis – the closest stage being SS6 when Harry beat Lewis by just three seconds.
Although Lewis and Taylor ended up finishing second and third for the day respectively, it was Windus who finished second on three stages – the most of anyone that day.
Unfortunately, both passes of Widgee proved costly for Windus, as he lost 11 seconds on the first run and 26 seconds on the second – the eventual gap between him and Lewis at the end of the day being 25 seconds.
Of course, those two stages also prevented Windus from notching up third place for the day as Taylor snuck into third by just one second.
Adding insult to injury, Taylor also claimed Heat honours for the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup over Windus in the process.
Young guns Ryan Williams and Brad Jones had a solid day in the Shamrock Haulage 2WD Cup – the RnB Rally Team driver more than one minute ahead of teenager Max McRae in his Dirtfish/Truck Wholesale WA Ford Fiesta R2.
The biggest drama for the day saw 2017 ARC Champions Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith forced to retire early from their strong start after a number of issues saw them parked up.
Whilst Quinn and Winwood-Smith did get back on the Sunday, it was hardly to the same effect as they finished 16th for the day.
Up the top of the time sheets though, Harry and McCarthy continued to dominate, winning another clean sweep of stages to finish 50 seconds ahead of Windus and Brkic.
A horror run on the day’s third stage saw Lewis Bates have an off and lose significant time, but a strong recovery in the second pass of the day’s stages saw him reclaim third place for the heat.
That recovery included a lightning quick run on the second pass of that stage, which also served as the EROAD Power Stage – with Lewis finishing two seconds off Harry in second place.
With Taylor being the day’s big casualty, it allowed Windus to secure the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup, while Williams grabbed his first ever-top 10 finish, along with both the Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup and the Glendun ARC Junior Cup.
The 2022 Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 22-23 July.