Perfect weekend on the cards for ARC Forest Rally return

After a brilliant season opener last month, the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) returns this weekend with the 2024 Forest Rally.

Serving as the second round of what is becoming a hotly contested season, Forest Rally will see 59 crews competing in both the ARC and Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship.

With the ARC component of the event will run in two heats, where championship points will be awarded on both days, the unique rally will see crews contest 104 competitive kilometres during Saturday’s six stages and then the remaining 76 kilometres during Sunday’s five stages.

In what is a major benefit for regular rally crews, there won’t be much difference to previous events in terms of the schedule and stages, with the famous Nannup roads familiar to most. The biggest changes will be the introduction of the Lewana Stage, which hasn’t been used for 15 years.

View the full itinerary via the Supplementary Regulations.

Many of the same crews who featured in the April’s season opener have made the journey across the country, with championship leaders Harry Bates and Coral Taylor leading the field.

Their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin have also touched down in Western Australia, fresh from an impressive FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) debut in Portugal.

“It’s nice to be back in Australia and we are mostly over our jet lag. I am just happy to be in WA as it’s one of my favourite events and the weather is looking fantastic,” Lewis said.

“We have managed to have a successful test in the AP4 already, and it feels nice. In some aspects, it’s quite different to the Rally2 car we had overseas but also quite similar in other aspects.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

“It was a bit of a surprise coming back to these loose ball bearing roads of WA, as it’s very different from Portugal, but fortunately we got into a rhythm quite quickly and I am comfortable with the conditions.

“Portugal was an amazing experience and although some things didn’t go our way, every little bit of seat time helps and we are going into this weekend feeling fired up and ready to go.”

Outside of the two Toyota entries, there is no shortage of stars who will be challenging for some outright results, including the likes of Scott Pedder and Alex Rullo – the latter of which is due for a big result on home soil.

View the full entry list.

Adding to the overall spectacle of the event are the current conditions, which are near-perfect, with beautiful weather forecast for the whole weekend.

With such good conditions on the horizon, spectators are the big winners for the event, with two different spectator points on both Saturday and Sunday to allow plenty of opportunities to watch the cars in action.

View the Spectator Guide.

Forest Rally 2024

Ahead of the weekend’s event, Clerk of Course Ross Tapper was excited to get the rally underway, starting with the Ceremonial Start on the Busselton foreshore on Friday night.

“Everything is shaping up to make this weekend one of the best in recent years and I think the perfect forecast is definitely a contributor to that,” Tapper said.

“We have been blessed with the weather – even to the point of having much needed rain a week beforehand, which will have soaked into the clay roads and packed the roads hard.

“The organising team is very excited for this weekend and we are all ready to go. We are due to have our biggest crowd ever for the Friday night Show and Shine and Ceremonial Start, which would be the perfect way to kick off the weekend.”

The 2024 Forest Rally takes place in and around the forests of Nannup, near Busselton, on 17-19 May.