Last time out at the Forest Rally

The next stop for the 2024 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season is the picturesque roads of Busselton and Nannup for this year’s Forest Rally.

Ahead of the second round of the ARC season, looks back at last year’s visit to Western Australia, which was won by Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith.

A strong field of 34 ARC registered crews had entered the event where they tackled 179 competitive kilometres across 17 stages, with Saturday’s first heat spread over Friday and Saturday, and Sunday hosting Heat 2.

The action began at the Bunbury Speedway with four Super Special Stages on the Friday night, and it was Harry Bates and Coral Taylor who got off to the strongest start, winning three of the evening’s four stages.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia pilots finished the evening off with a lead of four tenths of a second over Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney, who had won the other remaining stage.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

On Saturday morning, it was the second Toyota entry of Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin who claimed the first stage, beating their teammates by one second, only for Harry and Taylor to respond with a hattrick of stage wins.

The strong morning from the leaders saw them build a 30 second gap over Lewis and McLoughlin, who had slotted into second place 20 seconds ahead of Quinn and Winwood-Smith.

Rullo had also fallen off at this point, with a disappointing run on SS8 dropping to ninth overall and almost two and a half minutes behind Harry and Taylor.

Forest Rally 2023

Quinn then got his first stage win for the day, beating Harry by three seconds, before the two exchanged wins on the final two stages – Harry and Taylor eventually winning the Heat by 43 seconds over Lewis and McLoughlin, while Quinn was a further eight seconds off.

Harry’s Heat win broke an unwanted drought that had lasted almost one year with his most recent Heat win being back in June, 2022.

“It’s been a long time between drinks and probably longer than I would have imagined, but it was the perfect day,” a relieved Harry said.

“We really just focused on getting our rhythm and enjoying ourselves and Coral and I’ve had the perfect day. The car has been amazing and we really just felt at one with it all day.”

On Sunday, it all restarted again and Harry started strong with a one and a half second win over Quinn in the morning’s first stage.

Harry and Taylor went on to win another three stages to build a solid lead, only to be penalised one minute for an early check in ahead of the penultimate stage.

The time penalty saw the duo drop to sixth for the heat and with a mountain to climb ahead in the last two stages.

Winning SS16 and then finishing second to Lewis and McLoughlin in the Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage saw the pair settle for sixth in the heat, which earned them third on the overall podium at the end of the weekend.

Taking out top honours for the weekend was Quinn and Winwood-Smith, who went on to win Sunday’s Heat after being elevated to the lead as a result of Harry’s one minute time penalty.

Forest Rally 2023

Although the New South Welshman had finished ahead of Lewis on just two of the day’s five stages, they were both greater than three seconds – eventually proving the difference in the end.

Taking out the Mainfix ARC Production Cup was Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey, while Ben and Catherine Hayes continued their strong 2023 campaign with a victory in the ARC 2WD Cup, Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid won the ARC Junior Cup, and David Thompson and Matthew Sanders steered their Mazda RX7 to Transportable Shade Sheds ARC Classic Cup honours.

View results at the Subaru Results Hub.