The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) heads to Tasmania this weekend, which means a number of new faces will pit themselves against the best in Australia.
For the first time since 2019, Launceston will host the ARC with the Shannons Rally Launceston and one of the locals in Ben Newman is keen to make a good impression.
Part of Bucky Motorsport, which is one of the many sponsors of the event, Newman has always been a big advocate for the championship on the apple isle – and he was key in helping it return to Tasmania back in 2018.
Newman was understandably excited for the ARC to be in Launceston for the first time since 2019.
“Tourism isn’t great in Launceston during the wintertime, so when we helped bring it here in 2018, it was very cool and I was certainly very proud to have a hand in it,” Newman said.
“I am super glad to see it back in Launceston again because it’s great for this country town – especially now that the ARC has progressed into something really big with more exposure across all media channels.
“There are some really good, picturesque roads here and it’s a fantastic spectacle, so I am just looking forward to what should be a fun event – it’s great that Motorsport Australia are doing it here.”
As for being a competitor himself, Newman will have another local as his co-driver with the ever-talented Steve Glenney to call the notes.
Behind the wheel of the Bucky Motorsport prepared Subaru WRX STi, Newman is still quite fresh when it comes to gravel rally with the 41-year-old having had more experience in tarmac rallying.
Heading into the round, Newman has enjoyed a good run of form having won a number of events across different disciplines, some of which have been against Eddie and Stephen Maguire – highlighting his multiple talents as a driver.
Although he has a low expectation of where he will finish up this weekend, Newman was just looking forward to participating in the rally and hopefully getting a leg up in his light-hearted rivalry.
“I am definitely excited. Any gravel rallying is fantastic, but to be part of the pinnacle is pretty cool,” Newman said.
“Being on the same roads as the best in Australia will be a good benchmark and I’ll be keen to make some good progress.
“Having someone like Steve next to me will certainly keep me on my toes and it’s amazing to have someone as knowledgeable and talented as him. With my car prepared by Peter and Alex Nunn, it’s a ripper and there is no shortage of speed.
“I think a top 10 finish would be nice for me, as would beating the Maguires, but Eddie is a state champion on gravel, so he will be hard to beat, so for that matter, I am just focused on my progress.
“We have had a lot of fun and it will be good to see how I go up against those guys – it’s always nice to beat a Maguire because both are very talented – hopefully there is a good tussle this weekend.”
The round of the ARC will be split into two heats and made up of 195 competitive kilometres spread over 13 special stages, kicking off on the Friday night with the free Rally Show in the Launceston’s Civic Square from 5pm-7pm.
The Shannons Rally Launceston takes place in and around the forests of Launceston on 24-26 June.