The Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) will welcome back a familiar face at next month’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, with Dean Ridge to debut his new set of wheels.
The 2022 ARC 2WD Cup runner-up recently purchased Richie Dalton’s Ford Fiesta G4 and plans to run in three rounds of the 2023 season, starting with next month’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland.
Appearances at The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally and the season-ending National Capital Rally in Canberra will round out his ARC return, with a finish in the top 10 his goal.
No stranger to 4WDs, Ridge was looking forward to returning to the ARC having upgraded cars.
“I have always wanted to compete in the ARC using a 4WD car, but it was just about waiting for the right time and when I was ready to make the upgrade,” Ridge said.
“I spent the last couple of years doing 2WD when the plan was to start doing pace notes again. When I felt I was comfortable with my driving and my ability with pace notes, that was when I knew I could look.
“When the car came up for sale, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make the step up so I could have a go at all the big boys.
“I am very excited for Rally Queensland and going for a top 10 spot overall, but I think it’s going to take a few events to get used to, so I will look to build on the car and then have a full crack next year.”
While it hasn’t been long since the New South Welshman purchased the new car, he will look to completing multiple testing before his first event in Gympie.
In addition to one having done one club event already, a testing day early next month and the official test day in the lead up to Rally Queensland will have been his only opportunities to get proper seat time in the new car before the event.
Despite the lack of testing, Ridge will enter the event full of confidence having won the 2023 Narooma Forest Rally earlier this year, albeit in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7.
“Honestly, I just want to test myself. I am not expecting to be up the pointy end, but we have done Queensland rallies in previous years and I am quite comfortable with the roads,” Ridge explained.
“For me, it will be a matter of spending more time in the car, which will be the difference.
“We have already done a club level event in it and the car ran really well. The power it had was amazing. It is truly incredible to drive.
“I have a few rally cars, so I am not new driving turbo 4WD – in fact I have been driving them for 10-15 years, so this is purely a natural upgrade.
“My last event was the 2023 Narooma Rally in the Evo, even though it wasn’t the new car. The win gave me confidence and I am feeling good and looking forward to Rally Queensland.
“If I manage to get a top 10 finish, it will be a good result – Anything higher will be a dream come true.”
In addition to the new car, which will once again don his famous Ikon Signs yellow lively, Ridge has also secured the services of a new co-driver, Muireann Hayes.
The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 21-23 July.