This year’s Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) will come to an epic conclusion later this month, with an equal season-high entry list confirmed for Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra.
A field of 34 ARC crews will contest the season finale in the nation’s capital, with all eyes on the mouth-watering title fight between reigning champions Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin and their teammates Harry Bates and Coral Taylor in a battle which could come down to the EROAD Power Stage result.
Taking place over two days in and around the forests of Canberra, the event will see crews tackle more than 180 competitive kilometres across 12 special stages.
While the two Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia crews enter the event as the only outright contenders for the 2023 Championship win, there are plenty of names on the entry list for fans to get excited about, with many high-profile crews making their return to the ARC.
Shamrock Haulage’s Richie Dalton is one of few returnees who will make his first appearance for the year, as he teams up with Dale Moscatt. The duo will be behind the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris AP4 – the same one they steered to four outright podiums last year.
Adrian Stratford will also be making his return to the ARC, although it’s been a longer break away for the Victorian, who’ll be running in a Ford Fiesta G4 for his first national rally since competing in the same event back in 2021.
Both Dalton and Stratford feature in an impressive outright field, alongside regular crews such as AGI Rallysport’s Luke Anear and Malcolm Read, Maguire Motorsport’s Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey and Realty Lane’s Daniel Gonzalez and Morgan Ward.
Gill took out the title in 2022 after a breakout season, but the 20-year-old is likely to have an impact in this year’s title fight between Tasmanian stars Steve Maguire and Bodie Reading.
After enjoying a remarkable breakout season of his own, Reading has confirmed his entry for the season finale despite a scary crash at the PowerPlay Adelaide Hills Rally.
Alongside recently crowned Production Cup champion co-driver Mark Young, the duo have scored a drive in the Subaru WRX, and will look to defend their lead in the title fight.
Their closest rivals in Maguire and Ben Searcy will be looking to finish the year with a win over Reading and Young, which could very well land the former the title.
Other strong names in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup include Adelaide Hills Rally winners Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis, Automotive Repair Centre’s Simon and Elysia Jansen and High Country Motorsports’ Chris Higgs and Steve Fisher.
Higgs and Fisher also lead a very strong local contingent in the class, which includes the likes of Riley Walters and Andrew Crowley in the John Dale Motors Subaru Impreza and Team Wilkins Motorsports’ Tim Wilkins and Jim Gleeson.
Four cars make up the ARC 2WD Cup, including current champions-elect Ben and Cathy Hayes and youngsters Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid, who are also finishing the season on a high as the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup winners.
The ARC Classic Cup will have some of its regulars in action, including Adelaide Hills winners Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston.
Also running at the event is the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship (NSWRC) and the ACT Regional Rally, with 23 crews contesting both national and state level.
While the likes of James Dimmock and Larisa Biggar, Dalton, Walters, Wilkins and Higgs are all cross-entered in both components, Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell lead the way for the crews entered solely in the NSWRC.
Rounding out the strong field is the unique entry of Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall, who will be running in a Subaru Impreza WRX within a special invitational class. That car is poised to become a feature of the ARC in 2024 as part of a new one-make Subaru WRX Challenge one-make series.
Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra Clerk of Course Adrian Dudok was thrilled with the entry list.
“It’s been a busy few days for the organising committee with a flurry of crews coming in the final days of the entries,” Dudok said.
“The committee was also pleased with both the quantity and quality of entries – to have just 50 crews may not have been our original goal, but we are stoked with the turnout.
“The ARC especially is impressive – from interstaters to the locals, it’s a particularly strong field across the whole entry list and I am sure the title fight will add to the drama.
“I am also pleased with the NSW and ACT component, considering it’s the final round of the season, we weren’t expecting such a strong turnout, so that’s a bonus.
“We are looking forward to the event very much, and can’t wait to see the best cars in the country in action.”
The Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra takes place in Canberra on 18-19 November.