Smith looking to go one better in 2024 Forest Rally

After a mixed run at last year’s Forest Rally, local driver David Smith will be hoping to go all the way in 2024.

Alongside regular co-driver Rodger Pedersen, Smith guided his S&G Motorsport Ford Fiesta ST150 to an ARC 2WD Cup third place in the last year’s first heat but failed to finish the opening stage of the second heat.

The mechanical dramas prematurely ended his weekend as it prevented him from getting back on stage to complete the rally.

This year though, Smith has done all that he can to avoid the same outcome as last year, looking to combine experience, new car parts, and good fortune to stand on the top step of the class podium.

Helping his cause is the absence of last year’s class champions, Ben and Cathy Hayes, while young guns Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid have moved up to the Mainfix ARC Production Cup.

That leaves Smith’s biggest rivals for the weekend being Dave and Kelly Thomas, who are behind the wheel of the KAT Racing 2014 Subaru BRZ – Group G2 car.

The two WA crews will undoubtedly provide an entertaining battle for ARC 2WD Cup honours throughout the weekend; however, Smith enters the round full of confidence, believing his recent form will help him get the win.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

“Roger and I are coming into the Forest Rally in top form having had a string of good results in the 2WD WA Rally Championship (WARC),” Smith said.

“We currently have two wins and a second place in our last three WARC 2WD events, so there is no reason why we can’t continue that trend.

“Together, we have a combined age of 118 years, and I am hopeful that age and treachery will outperform the youth and exuberance of our fellow competitors in the forests around Nannup.

“At the last two Forest Rallies, we have had driveshaft issues which last year kept us off the ARC 2WD podium, but thanks to sponsor Dardanup Removals, we have sourced some M-Sport driveshafts out of Poland, so we are looking forward to having a crack this year.”

Not only have they acquired parts from the prestigious M-Sport, but the car itself has a bit of international flavour – having been built by M-Sport itself before being converted to a recce car for Team Abu Dhabi in the FIA World Rally Championship.

The car then ended up with Tony Sullens, who sold it to Max McRae for the teenager’s first-ever gravel rally car, and eventually found its way to Smith, who is wanting to steer it to the class victory at this month’s Forest Rally.

The 2024 Forest Rally takes place in and around the forests of Nannup and Busselton on 17-19 May.