It hasn’t been long since the 2020 Dunlop Motorsport Australia Tasmanian Rally Championship got underway with Eddie Maguire producing an impressive victory at last month’s CJR Enterprises Hellyer Sprint Rally alongside Zak Brakey.
This weekend, the championship returns with the Les Walkden Enterprises Mountain Stage Rally and Maguire will be back to continue his charge to his first title since 2017.
Standing in his way will be 17 other crews and 144 competitive kilometres across 10 special stages with the forest roads of Mathinna to prove unforgiving in what is expected to be entertaining event.
Many of the 18 crews will be looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing season opener at the Rocky Cape, including two-time champion Craig Brooks, who had mechanical issues in the previous round.
Brooks wasn’t the only star to fall victim to mechanical gremlins with Stephen Maguire also out early after winning the opening stage, while 2018 state champion Bodie Reading had an off after leading after heat one, which resulted in his premature exit from the event.
As well as those three drivers, who will be back with a burning desire to get back on the top step of the podium, there are a number of other names looking to build on their own strong starts to the season.
The entry list includes RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship driver Marcus Walkem and co-driver Damien Grimwood, Mitsubishi Evo 5 pilot Byron Murfet and co-driver Callan Randall, both of whom finished in the top five, as well as round one’s podium placer, Nick Grave.
It was a great performance from Grave and his debutant co-driver Ryan Sheehan with the duo securing a well-deserved third place after their event long battle with Murfet and Walkem.
Despite the strong result, Grave remains grounded about where he lies in the pecking order of such a talented entry list and believes his main goal will be to continue developing his experience behind the wheel of his new Subaru WRX.
“The event is a long way from where I live but there are some really good roads down there. I will finish my prep today and then make the long journey down, which is exciting,” Grave said.
“I was quite fortunate to get a podium last month as everyone fell off the road in front of me. I didn’t expect it. I am sure they will all be hungry to redeem themselves this weekend. For me though, just being consistent is the most important thing.
“I don’t have too much confidence after the last round. That was the first time I had driven the car. It was such a shock to the system moving to such a powerful car as opposed to what I had been driving for three years before that.
“The goal for this weekend is just to finish and try and close in on the front runners like Eddie, Stephen and Craig Brooks, which would be nice as the gap is still quite large. There is also another little group in the mid pack that include Byron and myself , so I hope we continue our tussle from Rocky Cape this weekend.
“I’ve learnt that to get some form of result, you need to finish. It would be nice just to get that extra pace out of myself and I know the car is capable because it was built for Dean Herridge in 2005, so the car definitely has the ability – it’s just the driver who needs to improve.”
The Les Walkden Enterprises Mountain Stage Rally takes place in and around North East Tasmania from 10am local time on Saturday 3 October.