Regular Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) co-driver Ben Searcy celebrated his 2023 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title by attending the FIA’s Prize Giving Ceremony over the weekend.
The West Australian flew halfway across the globe to be part of the prestigious event, joining the world champions of all FIA accredited championships and series, including Formula 1 and the FIA World Rally Championship.
Searcy was one of several Australians in attendance at the two-day event, alongside FIA Rookie of the Year Oscar Piastri, Formula 4 UAE Champion winner James Wharton, and Motorsport Australia President Andrew Fraser.
“It was a good opportunity to catch up with motorsport people from all around the world, and although I spent more than 48 hours travelling to be there for just 24 hours, it was definitely well worth it,” Searcy said.
“I ended up sitting at a table right up the front, so it was epic to see everything up close, including Max Verstappen’s title-winning F1 car, Kalle Rovanperä’s winning WRC car, a Formula E, and the World Endurance Championship – it was all very worth it.
“It was great to have a chat with the likes of Oscar, Andreas Mikkelsen, Hayden Paddon, and Andrew Fraser.
“This year has been the toughest year of my life, trying to fit in full-time work commitments and using annual leave for ARC, APRC, and the WA Rally Championship – it’s been really hard.
“But to then be in the same room as the best of the best and celebrate a title was a really nice way to wrap up the year.
“I am not usually one for presentations and dinners, but I am so glad I attended.”
Of course, Searcy attended the event for the key role he had in claiming the notes for Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar during the APRC’s shootout event earlier this year.
Calling the notes for Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar in the Škoda Fabia R5/Rally2 Evo for the APRC Rally in Indonesia, the title-fight went right down to the final stage where a shootout between the top three crews ensued.
After facing a variety of challenging stages and conditions, Sungkar and Searcy held the top spot heading into the final stage, with eight seconds separating the leaders and the two main contenders.
While Sungkar and Searcy had multiple issues on the stage, they were able to maintain their lead and take out the title – a victory that ended up being by more than 10 minutes after their two rivals were excluded from the event.
Having contested the regional championship for a number of years, this year’s title was Searcy’s first as a co-driver, and the West Australian was pleased with their impressive efforts.
“I have done APRC for many years, and although it’s different now with just one shootout, it was still one of the toughest and hardest rallies I have been involved with,” Searcy added.
“All weekend, there was a lot of chopping and changing in the standings as everyone tried to handle the tough, muddy, and slippery conditions – in fact, Rifat and I were changing tyres and setups between every stage, just to try and be prepared.
“Then leading into the final stage, which was our bogey stage, the car owner told us to either win it or bin it, and although we ended up going off twice, luckily for us, a lot of other crews went off too.
“It was nice to get my first-ever APRC win – a nice reward for a lot of hard work I put into the year.
“I have a huge passion for the sport and have to try and fit everything in each year, but this year was the hardest year I have had – with all my work and rally commitments combined – I’ve done alright for someone who isn’t a full-time competitor, so I am quite proud and pleased with a good year.”