The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) returns to Victoria this weekend for the first time since 2019 with the Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally.
Ahead of the fifth round of the 2022 ARC season, rally.com.au looks back at the last time the ARC took place in Victoria for the Pedders Eureka Rush.
A lot has changed since August 2019, however one thing that hasn’t is Harry Bates and John McCarthy’s dominance over the national competition, which was the theme of this event.
A healthy field of 46 crews entered the round, which was also hosting the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Bates and McCarthy took out top honours in both the APRC and ARC, with different narratives occurring in both results.
In the APRC leg of the event, Bates and McCarthy ended up walking away with a win of almost three minutes over Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin.
Although the older Bates brother came away with the win, it was New Zealander Hayden Paddon and co-driver Samantha Gray who had the better start, building a 30 second lead after the opening three stages.
Unfortunately, Paddon’s strong run came to a halt when he hit a rock and lost a wheel on the fourth stage – prematurely ending his Saturday and handing Harry the leg win.
Paddon and Gray weren’t the only crew to fall victim to the event’s fourth stage – 2016 ARC champion Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read and AGI Sport’s Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis both going off road.
Taylor’s issues also helped Harry secure the ARC component of the rally, with his biggest challenger eventually coming through four-time ARC champion Simon Evans and Bernie Webb.
Even as Bates’ biggest challenger in the ARC, Evans proved no match as he ended up finishing second by over a minute. However Evans managed to edge out Lewis Bates and McLoughlin by less than two seconds.
In what was an entertaining battle for second between the two crews, no more than two and half seconds separated Lewis and Evans on any stage, with Lewis’ efforts on the day’s final stage seeing him secure the outright stage win and preventing Harry from the clean sweep.
Alas, it was not enough to finish above Evans for the day though after Evans finished second on the final stage of the day.
Sunday’s action continued much the same as Saturday with a few exceptions.
Paddon got the Hyundai i20 R5 back on the road and took out the first APRC stage by more than 25 seconds, before Harry reduced that gap by half on the next stage.
The New Zealand star then comfortably took out the remaining two stages to win the heat by 35 seconds, although Harry came away with the overall win courtesy of Saturday’s performance.
In what was a highly productive rally for the championship leader, Harry comfortably won all four stages in the ARC to seal his fourth win for the 2019 season.
Evans and Lewis continued their battle on Sunday and again it was the experienced campaigner of Evans who steered his Subaru WRX STi to outright second place.
Lewis enjoyed the stronger start of the two with an 11 second victory on the day’s first stage, only to lose 23 seconds on the second stage. With Evans going faster on the final two stages by four tenths and three seconds respectively, it allowed the Victorian to secure second overall.
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally takes place in the forests of Heyfield on 26-28 August.