Entries for the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston continue to roll in with the first round of the 2023 Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) less than two months away.
A number of regular ARC crews have entered the season opener on Tasmania, with Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia stars Harry and Lewis Bates among those to register a place.
The Bates brothers won’t be the only ones running GR Yaris AP4s in Tasmania though, with young gun Jamie Luff officially making the switch to Toyota ahead of the 2023 season.
The New South Welshman showed plenty of promise during a busy 2022, with his best result from four rallies coming in the Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally where he and co-driving brother Brad finished fourth overall.
The brothers were behind the wheel of a Subaru WRX for those four rounds last year and having experienced the highs and lows of rallying – they thought it was the right time to improve their setup for a crack at a full ARC season.
With the help of both Bates brothers and the extended Neal Bates Motorsport team, Luff was excited with his new purchase.
“We have a Toyota dealership in Yass, we love the GR Yaris and we want to step into something new, so for us, all fingers pointed to Toyota,” Jamie said.
“Whilst we couldn’t have the same car as the Bates, we got an almost identical one which we felt was the next best thing and that was a stranded road Toyota Yaris.
“We stripped it all and approached the Bates to help with the car and they have been extremely helpful over the course of the rebuild, as well as pointing us in the right direction for when we need it.
“There is still a fair bit of work to go, but it’s on track to debut in Launceston and as long as we don’t run into a major problem in terms of parts, then I should be able to squeeze in a test beforehand.”
Tasmania and Western Australia were two of the rounds that the Luffs didn’t get to last year, meaning this year’s visit to the Apple Isle will be quite new for a whole lot of reasons.
“We are hoping to have our first ever drive in the car about two weeks before the first round takes place because honestly, I have no idea how to drive the car,” Luff added.
“Launceston will also be a bit of a test knock for us and we will dial it back a notch during the event in order to get the most out of the car – however until I step into it at that first test session, I don’t know how confident I will be.
“The plan is the full ARC season, but we will judge with how we go in Tassie. The biggest challenge for us will be that and the WA round so I want to make sure we do that.
“As for the first round and what to expect – I am not too fussed about how much experience people have over me. Last year it was very wet and cold, while it might be warmer this year so it could be different.
“All in all, I am so excited that I can’t sleep. I just want to drive the Yaris and at an event I have heard it is really enjoyable to drive.”
Entries for the ARC season opener remain open until 10 March and interested crews can enter here.
The Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston takes place in around and the forests of Launceston on 24-26 March.
Feature photo: Zed Photography