O’Dowd gearing up for Rally Australia debut

John O’Dowd is ready for the massive opportunity that competing in the Kennards Hire Rally Australia represents.

The WA rally driver will carry the hopes of his state in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship’s new-for-2017 category, ARC2. The division was created for teams who compete in their home ARC event and one other.

“There’s some tough competition with Tony Sullens and Craig Brooks, but I reckon we’re a strong chance,” O’Dowd said.

Maximum Motorsport team mate Brad Markovic was originally set to compete against Sullens and Brooks, but declared he was unable to compete in NSW as he continues to recover from back surgery.

That paved the way for O’Dowd and co-driver Ken Sheil to be elevated to the ARC2 winner-takes-all final.

“I feel for Brad because I know he’s frustrated that he’s not able to compete,” O’Dowd said. “But we’ll make sure we do him proud.”

O’Dowd will head into his first Kennards Hire Rally Australia with his confidence high.

Last month, he won the final round of the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship, the Carrington’s Safari Rally.

In September, he had his best result of the ARC season, finishing fourth at the Lightforce Rally SA.

O’Dowd climbed two championship positions after the big result and now sits at sixth place. He’s just one point off fifth and is the highest-placed WA driver.

At the Kennards Hire Rally Australia, O’Dowd will be one of just two West Australian drivers. The other is Maximum Motorsport boss and mentor, Dean Herridge.

“It’ll be great to have Dean there for support and advice,” O’Dowd said.

The event, which is also a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, runs on the NSW Coffs Coast from November 16 to 19.

Pic by Joel Strickland