After five years of a successful apprenticeship in the Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship (WARC), Craig Rando is finally ready to have a crack at the nation’s best.
This weekend will see the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) make its way out west for the ever-popular Make Smoking History Forest Rally with Rando entered in the ARC for the first time.
In what will be his ARC debut, Rando will be behind the wheel of the Subaru GD STI alongside co-driver Scott Beckwith with the duo to tackle the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
The WA locals are one of 12 crews entered in the class and will face serious competition from the likes of Tasmanian trio Eddie Maguire, Stephen Maguire and Bodie Reading and fellow statesmen, Jack Flanagan and Caoimhin Mac Ghirr.
However, Rando will enter the event with plenty of confidence after showing strong signs in the WA state Championship where he has claimed a number of wins over the years.
Despite an impressive state record, Rando was under no illusion as to how he would stack up against the country’s best and was focused on one thing.
“I am feeling pretty good this weekend. I have been in the sport for five years and thought that it was the right time to give the ARC a go and see where we stack up,” Rando said.
“Being our first hit out at a national level, we have no expectation but I’m interested to see how we match up to the rest of the Production Cars competitors.
“I have heard a bit of talk about the Tasmania versus WA battle but I am not interested in that to be honest. The guys from Tasmania are pretty well credentialed and are in good cars, so I don’t think I will be able to stick with them.
“I also think it will be difficult to keep up with the outright national guys – especially being in a Group N Car and I have no delusions about beating them. Realistically, I would love to just be in the mix for the Production Cup and keep some of the national guys honest.
“I have made quite a few good steps forward in recent years by improving my time and pace and having Scott Beckwith join last year has been a big difference, so I am looking forward to running about and having a go in the ARC.”
As for whether this weekend will leave Rando wanting more at a national level, his future in the ARC will be determined purely by his performance throughout the three-day rally.
“I am never going to say never to an ARC drive. We have put a lot of work into developing the car and now seeing all the amazing new cars join begs the question about how to move forward,” Rando explained.
“If we go well this week and we have a good run with all things being even, then it is something we will definitely consider, maybe doing an extra round or two this year or next – it’s certainly something to build on.
“With that said, going from state level to national is a big difference both in time and financially and it requires a much bigger effort, so we will see how it plays out.
“We don’t have expectations, but my sights are set on the future and I am not just there to make the numbers this weekend.
“We have done the Forest Rally a couple of times and Ross Tapper puts on a really good event. The four new stages will even the field, which will give me a good indication as to where I am at.
“I am pretty excited to make my debut this weekend. There has been plenty of hype and build-up pre-event, but I will get more excited when it’s time to go on Friday and then again on Saturday morning when the real action starts.”
The Make Smoking History Forest Rally serves as the second round of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship 2023 season and takes place in Bunbury, Busselton and Nannup on 19-21 May.