Following a breakout performance in last month’s Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston, Bodie Reading is the latest name to confirm their place at the upcoming Make Smoking History Forest Rally.
The Tasmanian finished the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season opener in fourth place overall after securing a runner-up finish in the event’s first heat, which included leading overall after the first three stages.
Also securing top honours in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup, Reading was one of the most impressive drivers throughout the 13-stage rally and his performance was rewarded with the first ever Standout Performer of the Round award.
Not only did his Saturday results capture the imagination of rally fans around the country, but it also caught the eye of the Neal Bates Motorsport team, who made the generous offer of transporting his car from Canberra to WA free of charge if it helped him make it to the WA ARC event.
Although Western Australia was an event he had always wanted to do, it was never an option for Reading due to funding and timing issues – especially since he was just a privateer.
However, the offer from Neal Bates gave Reading the golden opportunity to finally make it to WA for the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.
Initially planning just a few rounds along the East Coast to tackle the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup this year, Reading was excited to add WA to his schedule of events.
“I was planning to do the ARC Production Cup and go to rounds like Queensland as one of my four, as well as the Tasmanian State Championship, so it’s going to be a full-on year,” Reading said.
“But I had never intended to do WA because the amount of travel and time off work I need to do to transport, as well as the cost for a big trip itself were the things stopping me.
“But when Neal approached me on the Saturday night of Rally Launceston and made the offer to transport the car from Canberra to WA, it was kind of the sealer to get me to WA and I was so excited.
“Then to win the Production Cup, which pays for my Forest Rally entry fee, and the four free tyres from Hoosier for winning the Standout Performer of the Round; they were also big contributors to getting me to WA and it’s really helpful for privateers like me as it’s quite expensive.
“Even if I didn’t end up getting as many points as I did on Sunday, I would have taken up the offer from Neal because I have always wanted to do WA, so a big thanks to Neal, as well as Les Walkden, who is going to transport my car to Canberra.”
As for his expectations for the round, Reading was just looking forward to being in WA and the unique experience of travelling light for an event.
“I am very excited to go because it’s my first time there and I have heard a lot of good things about the event – everyone raves about this event,” Reading explained.
“I am going to try and prepare for an unknown event like I normal do, but it’s going to be very different because I am just flying on Thursday and out on Monday and I am going to be very light on tools with spares – essentially relying on others for extra, so I am looking forward to new challenge.
“I am not looking to do anything like I did in Launceston. Honestly, I just want to finish the rally and I am there mainly for the experience.
“Because of the limited spares, I will be toning it down, but If we can score points then I will take it.”
Entries for the second round of the Bosch Motorsport Australian Rally Championship are still open and crews can enter via the Motorsport Australia Member Portal here.
The 2023 Make Smoking History Forest Rally takes place in Bunbury and Nannup on 19-21 May.