After a two week break since the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, the Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship returns with this weekend’s Make Smoking History Karri Rally.
Taking place around the fast roads of the stunning Nyamup State Forest, there will be 23 crews tackling the event’s two designated courses with their three runs to equate 116 competitive kilometres.
While the event welcomes a healthy entry list, there will be four main drivers keen to take out top spot in the championship’s penultimate round, as the season reaches the business end and every point becomes crucial.
Just 28 points separate the top four with reigning champion John O’Dowd leading the way on 108 points. Behind the wheel of his Truck Wholesale WA Skoda Fabia R5 alongside co-driver Toni Feaver, O’Dowd will be looking to make amends for last month’s outing – his first loss in more than a year .
Just 18 points behind O’Dowd on the outright standings is last year’s runner-up Ben Searcy, with his Swift Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 partner in James Marquet currently in third place on the co-driver championship.
Craig Rando is the next in line a further four points behind and has finished in the top five in both events alongside co-driver Stephen Wade, while Forest Rally winner Mike Young will enter the round with co-driver Scott Beckwith, both full of confidence after their thrilling win last month.
While the four crews will certainly be in the running for a good result, there may be a few other names who could throw a spanner in the works and have a big say in who wins the title.
The most notable driver is Stephen Oxley, who returns to the fold after missing last round and notching up a fourth place in Bakers Hill earlier this year. With Steph Esterbauer by his side in the CASA Security Subaru WRX, the 2018 championship runner-up will be looking to add to his podiums from the two previous Karri Rallies.
On paper, O’Dowd and Feaver look the favourites to take out the victory after comfortably winning the event in both 2018 and 2019, however with Young firing on all cylinders, Searcy and Rando in hot form and the return of Oxley, anything will be possible.
Unfortunately, there will be no spectator points at the event, however the Service Park in Manjimup has been opened up to the public with fans able to get up close with the crews at two different points in the day.
The event’s first section begins at 12:30pm while the third section concludes at 6:30pm local time and the services will take place at 1:49pm and 4:03pm.
The event is also hosting the Clubman Masters and Cup series which will see an extra three crews complete the first two sections of the rally and undergo 77kms.
The Make Smoking History Karri Rally takes place around the Nyamup State Forest on Saturday 3 October.