It’s been almost 12 months since the Walkems last competed in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, but the brothers will be back this weekend for Subaru Rally Tasmania.
Behind the wheel of a factory built Hyundai i20 R5, the customer car motivated Marcus and Scott Walkem to end their work-related hiatus with the sport and come back for their home rally.
After the car touched down in Australia last month, the pair put it through its paces in a test day shared with fellow R5 competitor Luke Anear, with former World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon helping the brothers.
With the pair ditching their Peugeot from last year to have a crack in the WRC2 spec car this year, Marcus was super impressed with the new wheels after the successful test.
“We decided to bring this new car in the country and it’s certainly reinvigorated our passion for the sport,” Marcus said.
“The car is head and shoulders better than the previous Peugeot because we had really limited opportunities with that car. Immediately with this car, we have found it fits like a glove and does everything we want it to do.
“With the AP4 class, you are always guessing with the engineering, but with R5 class, all the hard work has been done. They have done thousands of kilometres of testing and it shows when you drive it.
“Having Hayden over from New Zealand to help the set the car up was invaluable. His advice and assistance has made the car spot on.”
In last year’s Subaru Rally Tasmania, the Walkems made another grand return to the sport and steered their Peugeot to a top five finish, a fine achievement in itself.
With the crew now equipped with a better car for which they understand more, Walkem himself is confident they can improve on last year.
“I would be a lot more confident than we were last year, the event last year was really wet and it was tough,” Marcus explained.
“We had problems with the car fogging up and that one became just a survival rally for us, but I felt we had good pace on the Sunday.
“With this car (R5) you can just feel the extra pace in it and I would be surprised if weren’t at least a second and half quicker than last year. We are really looking forward to it. Nice sunny days and it should be an enjoyable event.
“We had another test day for the rally this week and while it didn’t really change anything, it was good to get in the car again and get some mileage.”
While Marcus and Scott will drive the car in Tasmania before handing the keys over to Paddon for the Eureka Rush in August, the pair are yet to confirm their position for the rest of the year.
“We are not a full time rally team, we just want to have fun and be on the pace so we’re really looking forward to it,” Marcus added.
“Hayden will drive the car at Eureka Rally and then after that we have no plans, but we would like to do another event the i20.
“Our goal is to just get through this weekend and then we can work out what our plans after.”
The Subaru Rally Tasmania takes place around the forests of Launceston on 21 – 23 June.