Australia’s best rally crews will head to Gympie this week, following a successful return to the national calendar last year.
Although there will be a number of different crews competing in event, there will still be plenty of storylines across the various classes.
Ahead of the fourth round of the 2022 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC), re-live the event that brought national rallying back to Queensland.
Split over two Heats, the 2021 Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland enjoyed plenty of anticipation for its return to the ARC after a thrilling season opener in Canberra the previous month.
Reigning ARC champions Harry Bates and John McCarthy went into the round as leaders after winning the tough opener in Canberra.
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 Heat
It was a different story on Sunday with Arron Windus and Daniel Brkic placing second ahead of Lewis and McLoughlin – a gap of nine seconds proving the difference.
However, the younger Bates brother went on to stand on the outright podium in second thanks to the quicker overall time between the two on Saturday.
The first heat on Saturday saw Harry produce a masterclass performance– his six stage wins earning him a one minute victory over Lewis – the latter’s closest stage win coming on SS6, when he was within 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 pivotal 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 just 25 seconds.
Of course, those two stages also prevented Windus from notching up third place for the day as Taylor ended up finishing one second better off.
Not only did Taylor enjoy a third place for the heat, but she also came away with Heat honours for the White Wolf Constructions ARC Cup, beating 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 16-year-old Max McRae in his Dirtfish/Truck Wholesale WA Ford Fiesta R2.
The biggest drama for the day saw Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood Smith forced to retire early from their strong start and stage three runner-up finish after a number of issues saw them parked up.
Whilst they did get back on the Sunday, it was hardly to the same effect as Quinn finished 16th for the day.
Up the top of the time sheets, Harry continued to dominate, winning another clean sweep of stages to finish 50 seconds ahead of Windus.
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 at the second pass of that stage, which also served as the EROAD Power Stage – Lewis finishing second and less than two seconds off Harry.
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 finis, 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 – 24 July.