For the first time since 2018, Australia’s best drivers will be on the Coffs Coast this weekend, contesting the final round of the RSEA Motorsport Australia Rally Championships (ARC)
Much like the 2018 season, there are a number of drivers in contention for the title with Harry and Lewis Bates the two drivers at the front of the pack.
While there were some similarities, there are plenty of differences too with the ARC looking very different to how it looked back then – one of those key changes for the event being the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship taking place as opposed to the FIA World Rally Championship.
Known then as Kennards Rally Australia, the Coffs Coast based rally saw a huge field tackle 24 challenging stages over three days of thrilling rally action.
Taking out the outright ARC victory were Steve Glenney and co-driver Andy Sarandis in the Skoda Fabia R5, after the duo finished a massive 17-minutes ahead of their nearest competitors in Luke Anear and Jon Mitchell.
In the WRC, Finnish duo Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claimed the victory by beating New Zealander Hayden Paddon and British co-driver Seb Marshall by just 32 seconds.
It was highly challenging rally as seven WRC crews and six ARC crews ended the weekend with DNFs – including a number of title contenders.
The eventual ARC winners in Glenney and Sarandis took a while to get going as they finished behind Harry Bates and John McCarthy on multiple stages throughout the opening day.
Although, the tables turned on the second day when Bates and McCarthy had multiple issues, eventually retiring on the day – giving Glenney his first win since 2006.
“It’s fantastic. It’s been a huge year and a great privilege to drive the Contel Communications Subaru and then to step up to the R5 for this event was a great experience for all of us,” Glenney said post-event.
“I’m really thrilled to give Craig (Brooks), our excitable team leader, a reward for his efforts this year and for the trust he puts in us to drive his cars.”
The second placed runner Anear also sat atop the outright Digital Cup standings, making it a successful weekend for him as the Snickers Racing Subaru Impreza held a hefty nine-minute advantage over Andrew Penny and Rhys Llewellyn – who rounded out the top three in the ARC class and sealed the ARC2 Championship.
With the challenging events resulted in six DNF’s across the board, it allowed Tankformers’ Eli Evans and Ben Searcy, who were able to seal the the 2018 championship title with a fifth-place finish – after the duo had led all year.
Evans damaged his radiator early in the weekend, putting his championship hopes at risk before two strong performances across the final days were enough to hang on for fifth.
“This one had more twists and turns and I didn’t know who was going to win it even though I had a good points lead coming into this event,” Evans said post-event.
“It was a strange year but between the top three teams, it was awesome, we pushed each other to the limit all year and I’m pleased that we managed to hang on for the Australian Rally Championship.”
In the Classic Cup, Tony Quinn and co-driver Kate Catford took victory with a nine-minute advantage over Keith Fackrell and Claire Buccini, who were then followed closely by Mark Beard and Sam Hill.
The Coffs Coast Rally will host the final round of the 2022 RSEA Motorsport Australia Rally Championship on 25-27 November.