The final round of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) in Canberra will not only see the nation’s best rally drivers in action, but also a fierce competition at state level.
After four completed rounds in 2023, the Motorsport Australia New South Wales Rally Championship (NSWRC) will be running in conjunction with the ARC and will see 22 crews taking part in the event.
While the ARC will be completing all 12 stages of this weekend’s Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra, the state component of the event will be made up of just nine stages spread over three Heats.
Entered in the NSWRC are plenty of talented crews – a dozen of which will be cross-entered in the ARC, while the remaining 10 will be contesting just the nine stages.
Headlining the state-field are current championship leaders Richard Dalton and Dale Moscatt, who will also be making their first national appearance for the 2022 season.
The Shamrock Motorsport driver currently sits on 161 points having won four heats throughout the season and will be looking to finish the year, as well as his ARC return, off on a high.
“I am ecstatic to be in Canberra this weekend because anytime in a rally car makes me happy,” Dalton said.
“I am feeling really relaxed ahead of this weekend – we’re obviously doing a rally I have done before and we have a pace notes, whereas the last two NSW events have been blind rallies.
“It’s far more comfortable and straightforward so I just need to drive consistently – because I have done this event seven times, I have 70 per cent of the pace notes already done, which gives me confidence.
“There is going to be high attrition for this event I think, and I can’t imagine that there will be a lot of crews left at the end of the event, both at state and national level.
“So, we just need to be consistent and do what we do we have been doing this year and I am sure it will work out – we will drive as hard as we can.”
Dalton’s closest rival in Timothy Wilkins sits just 11 points off in second place having won both Heats of the championship’s season opening Mitta Mountain Rally.
Alongside Jim Gleeson, the duo will need a big round in Canberra in order to break past Dalton – a doable task considering Wilkin’s incredible run at the corresponding round last year.
Wilkins and Gleeson ended up finishing the 2022 Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra in sixth place outright and second in the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup, while rounding out the NSW podium behind Taylor Gill and Tony Sullens.
As for Dalton, he and Moscatt finished last year’s rally in Canberra one position behind the Mitsubishi Lancer of Wilkins and Gleeson, meaning the Irishman just missed out on the state podium.
While Gill and current co-driver Daniel Brkic will be making their return to Australia after a season in the FIA Rally Star, they won’t be cross entered in the state championship.
Sullens on the other hand has confirmed his entry for just the state championship with long-time co-driver Kaylie Newell by his side, and with the reigning champion not in contention for the state title, he could have a significant impact on who leaves Canberra as champion.
The two other drivers with a good chance of securing the championship are Riley Waters and Josh Redhead.
Both drivers are cross entered in the ARC, with Waters alongside Andrew Crowley in his Subaru Impreza, while Redhead will be steering his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO3 – C4 with the ever-present Ray Winwood-Smith as co-driver.
Other big names completing both components of the event alongside Dalton, Wilkins, Waters and Redhead include Chris Higgs and Steve Fisher, Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston, Ben and Cathy Hayes, James Dimmock and Larisa Biggar and Dean Ridge and Muireann Hayes.
The Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra takes place in the nation’s capital on 18-19 November.