Podium the goal for Dalton

Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton is hopeful his previous experience in Western Australia will hold him in good stead to achieve a maiden RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) podium this weekend.

Just like many of the other crews around the country, it’s been quite some time since Dalton was able to compete in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, with the round last appearing as the opener to the 2019 season.

Despite a big gap of three years, Dalton has improved significantly since his last excursion out west, and also has a much better set of wheels underneath him, having obtained Harry Bates’ championship winning Toyota Yaris AP4.

With plenty of the roads still the same as the 2019 opener, Dalton believed he was in a good position to get a strong result – pending everything works mechanically.

“I am really looking forward to the weekend because I love it there in Western Australia,” Dalton said.

“My stage times have been pretty consistent there so I think my previous experience should help me there.

“Forty per cent of the stages should be the same and I have experienced them. The surface and grip levels are slightly different, but the grip is consistent and I know what to expect.

“We had some stage wins there last time, so we did have the pace. Now I just need to put together a full event without mechanical issues and I should be good.”

Dalton in action during the 2019 Make Smoking History Forest Rally. Photos: Wishart Media

In addition to the confidence in his performance, the Irishman will enter the event quite refreshed after a visit back home gave him a chance to switch off and recharge.

With Dalton currently sitting in seventh place on the championship standings, the absence of four drivers above him means a good result could elevate him to as high as second place, or first providing Harry Bates is unable to continue his dominance.

However, while a championship title push might be on the cards at an event that has been somewhat kind to him in previous years, Dalton said there was only one goal for the weekend.

“I am going for my first ever podium and that is 100 per cent my goal for the weekend,” Dalton said.

“It might be a big goal, but I need to keep it high because I am investing a lot of time and money in the round so it has to be about aiming high.

“The Championship is a long game, so honestly, I am not worried about it. It might be cliché, but it’s honestly about doing one stage at a time and then one heat at a time and then one event at a time.

“I am concentrating on getting the results together and we are seeded fourth for the event so we’re in a good position and if we can get a podium, I would be relieved and one more.

“It was nice to get a break away and switch off the mind for a bit. I did feel refreshed, but I am pretty tired at the moment, however once I get to Perth it will be full-on in rally mode.”

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally takes place in Western Australia on 21-23 May.

Feature Photo: Epic Sports Photography