For the third time this season, the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup will boast the biggest entry list amongst the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) Cups at an event.
Out of the 30 ARC crews entered in this month’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, 12 of them will contest the Production Cup with a long list of competitors in contention to take out top honours.
Headlining the class for the third round of the ARC season are the Tasmanian crews who have been highly impressive in the opening two rounds, led by Cup leader Steve Maguire.
With highly respected Dale Moscatt by his side, Maguire has been one of the major success stories for the year so far after finishing all four heats in the top two, one of which was a win in Launceston.
Just as impressive has been his fellow Tasmanian, Bodie Reading – the young gun was the star of the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston in March, having led the outright field after three stages and holding on for an outright top five finish.
While he struggled to adapt to the ever-challenging Make Smoking History Forest Rally roads, Reading is likely to bounce back in Queensland and resume his hunt for class honours.
Standing in the way of the Tasmanians as genuine contenders in Gympie are two locals who not only know the roads, but who are extremely quick behind the wheel.
As ARC class winners themselves, Ryan Williams and Brad Jones have produced a number of solid stage results at this event in the past and have enjoyed a solid run in the local championships during the lead up.
Glenn Brinkman is also a driver who has picked up some good results in previous years, and with Steven Richardson alongside him a Lancer Evo 9, the duo enters the round as the third highest seeded Production Cup crew.
While the above quartet enter the event as the potential favourites, the remaining eight crews are not to be disregarded, and can certainly be considered for some big results.
The regular ARC crews in attendance and vying for outright title honours include Gandewa Sanders and his decorated co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino, the Indonesian currently sitting third on the standings in his first year, while Victorians Ben and Cathy Hayes sit just 16 points behind on the standings and are a big threat in their popular Subaru BRZ.
A further two more crews will be making the journey from outside the border, with Sam Hill and Makenzie Davidson-Hill to make their first ARC appearance for the year, while West Australians Caoimhin Macghirr and Noah Humble will be looking to improve on a tough run on home soil in May.
Like Macghirr, one driver likely to want to improve on a tough start to the season is local driver Nathan Stokes with the Subaru Impreza WRX STI driver and his co-driver and Ian Wheeler having recorded a P8 in Launceston’s first heat.
Stokes isn’t the only Queensland based driver who will use his home event to get a good result, with both Simon Jansen and Cameron Henry capable to secure some top five placings in what will be their return to the ARC.
As usual, Jansen will have wife Elysia calling the notes, while Henry will welcome back Erik Johnsson for his return – a moment he was looking forward to.
“I am really looking forward to getting back into the ARC having missed the opening two rounds – especially against a strong field with some really good names,” Henry said.
“We broke our car badly at Coffs Harbour last year and then had a fire in a state round earlier this year, so we have stripped and rebuilt the car to completely new. We will be using the event to test it out.
“I have a good car and I know the stages back to front, but I still am still learning how to drive it properly, so I am hopeful of getting a top five Production Cup finish or even a top 10 ARC stage time, which would be a dream.
“I think the biggest threat are the Queensland drivers – especially Ryan Williams who is in the ex-Luke Anear Subaru. He is really quick and has shown his raw talent at state level, so he is one to watch out for.
Rounding out the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup is Nikki Duclos and Craig Hodge, who enjoyed a Clubman Class win at the Roo Systems Manumbar Rally earlier this year.
The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 22-23 July.