Who will win the 2024 Forest Rally

Following on from an entertaining season opener in Canberra last month, the 2024 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) continues this weekend with the highly anticipated Forest Rally.

While picking a winner may prove a tall order, our team of ARC pundits to give their expert opinion on who they think will take out the win and key results.

Dean Herridge – ARC presenter

Winner: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
I am not being as bold as I was for the season opener, but in Canberra, it was a new season and anything could have happened. I was impressed in with how Harry and Coral handled the new car and the job they did out of the box. It was truly impressive. I don’t think he will go unbeaten this weekend, but Harry is definitely the guy to beat for the round.

Runner-Up: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall

Scotty will be P2 this weekend- he was technically in second before he had puncture. Now that the car has a round under its belt and we’re heading to a traditional dry rally dry with days in the heat, I think Scott will shine. He was in front of Lewis in Canberra until the issue so he should do it again.

Podium: Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin

The safe money would be Lewis for third. For me, the Maguires are lacking a little bit and Alex Rullo was impressive in Canberra, but Lewis is a safe set of hands to net a podium. Portugal would have helped him even if he didn’t have the best of runs because any time a driver does a different rally, you come into these Australian rounds more comfortable.

Dark Horse: Dylan King and Abbey Hayes
Dylan King is a very quick driver and a former WA champion. In recent local small events, he only just got pipped by Alex Rullo so he’s doing well. He is in a new car that he bought from James Dimock, which was the first time I’ve seen him anything better than a Production Car. I think he will be fast, but I don’t think he will win. With that said, don’t be surprised if gets good times.

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
I’d love to say a rogue name, but if Harry is there at the end, he will win. He has won a lot of Power Stages in his time and his ratio at winning Power Stages compared to his brother is very good. He will be hard to be beat.

Surprise Packet: Thomas Loughton and Michael Lloyd
Thomas is a young guy in an Evo 10 Production car and has been doing a very good job in the WA State Championship. Most recently, where he went head to head with Craig Rando and did a good job. He is a young kid with a bright future and would be excited to be stepping up to the ARC.

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
You’d think Molly Taylor has Craig Rando covered, but as mentioned, there is also Tom Loughton and Tim Hiles, who is in the Max McRae car from a couple of years back. Tim punches above his weight but hasn’t been able to put a full event together. If Craig and Molly have issues, then Tim will be well in contention to get a result.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

Greg Rust – ARC Presenter

Winner: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
I had to eat humble pie at round one, picking Lewis to win, but it tasted good! Harry’s new car was great straight out of the box and he made the most of it, so I expect him to continue that momentum this week.

Runner-up: Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin

The recent Portugal drive will serve him well. Get the popcorn out….when the new Rally 2 car arrives here the ‘Bates’ Battle’ will be compulsory viewing! But for now, he will have to settle for second place.

Podium: Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney

Canberra was just the start for Alex Rullo. He’s unlocked it now and another podium is on the cards.

Dark Horse: Jamie Luff and Bradley Luff
I was gutted for this team in Canberra. Steering damage toward the end overshadowed a solid weekend. How they rebuild from that and comeback stronger is what we’ll talk about this weekend I’m sure.

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall

I’ve said it before, but Scott is driving with the speed of someone in their mid 20’s but the smarts of a driver who is…..errr….still young at heart!

Surprise Packet: Dean Herridge
I am sure Dean Herridge will turn it up  when we “borrow” a car for a TV story ahead of the event.

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
Molly is in red hot form and so at one with that Subaru so I would suggest she will take out the event again.

Taylor Gill – Australian Junior WRC driver

Winner: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
How can you go past Harry and Coral Taylor? Harry should be confident going to a rally he’s won multiple times before in a car that’s proven to be fast out of the box

Runner up: Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney
Maybe a bold call? But some local knowledge should provide some good confidence in Alex – not to mention the podium he’s already got under his belt this season.

Podium: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall
A bit of a rocky start in Canberra maybe bogged Scott down slightly, but he’s a proven champion in his own right and I think consistency will put him right in the mix for a great result in WA

Dark Horse: Steve Maguire and Ben Searcy
A steady start in Canberra was the correct approach for Steve but It wouldn’t surprise me to see him step it up a level in WA and be consistently at the top end of the time sheets

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin

With his recent exposure to the European competition level, I think Lewis could really step the pace up and snag all 10 Power Stage points this weekend

Surprise Packet: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
It’s never a surprise to see Molly setting a top pace, but on a rally more suited to the Production Car compared to Canberra, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her edge closer to the outright podium

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
Following the theme, how can you go past her? On roads that demand high commitment, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Molly should be untouchable in the Mainfix ARC Production Cup.

Nathan Quinn – 2017 ARC Champion

Winner: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall
I’m going out on a limb here and give this one to Pedder. He needs to make up for ACT and also has more experience on the WA surface than Harry. It will help that many of the corners and sections of the stages will be very familiar to Scott from decades past. Furthermore, he has the God of Australian co-drivers beside him, in what is HIS home event…don’t be surprised if you see Glen Macneall cracking his whip.

Runner up: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
Harry has a great start in the championship, but doesn’t need the top step this time round. Not saying he will back off, rather I expect him to drive with his head. I also expect the lead to swap between Harry and Scott several times… and I don’t think any will challenge either of them. But the minute Pedder puts a foot wrong, Harry will be there, ready to pounce like the tiger he is.

Podium: Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney
Tough one, but It’s time “Alex the kid” steps up and what logical place to do it, his home event. He has had some flashes of speed, but I think you will find this is the event he will want to make his breakthrough result. Though the longer stage format may not suit his strengths and Lewis will be on him like those Portuguese custard tarts he recently indulged in.

Dark Horse: Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey
Eddy Mac…he showed good pace here last year. His road position may knock him about a bit on the first pass but we can’t discount him for a good result this weekend.

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
Harry will have the eye of the tiger here.

Surprise Packet: Dylan King and Abbey Hayes
All eyes are on the King!! Dylan in his first ARC outing in a contemporary competitive car will be exciting to follow. He’s got great experience in WA, will have the home state confidence and a good road position.

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
Ol’ Rando has an opportunity here to draw “First Blood”, but realistically Molly has the guns, and WA is always good to her. I’m going with Molly, plus she is far better looking than Craig.

Garry O’Brien – ARC correspondent – Speedcafe

Winner: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
How could you go (or get) past the reigning champs. The Rally of Canberra may have been shortened to one day due to torrential rain, but they won every stage in an impressive debut for the Toyota GR Yaris Rally 2.

Runner Up: Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin
They did it last time, second  in the GR Yaris AP4, although the cards did fall in their favour. With Lewis competing in the Rally de Portugal a week ago, his driving will have sharpened some, and he will be over the jet lag.

Podium: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall
A puncture on the SKoda Fabia R5 robbed them of a possible top three last time, and I am banking it will not happen in the West.

Dark Horse: Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney
Every time they compete the Hyundai i20 pair get that little bit closer to the front runners. A former Supercar driver, Rullo’s transition to the dirt continues to improve with the guidance of master navigator Steve Glenney

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
Without sounding repetitive, they secured last year’s title with a final round (in Canberra) power stage win and won it at the Rally of Canberra this year. Only a change of scenery and mechanicals could alter that.

Surprise Packet: Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey
They would be accustomed with being on the podium, albeit they missed out by one spot at round one. I am tipping they will attend to that this round in their Skoda.

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
In Canberra, they were the leading lights in the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, finished in seventh outright and won the Production Cup by over two minutes. Can see another top outright performance and dominant showing in the class.

Jessica Dane – former ARC presenter

Winner: Harry Bates and Coral Taylor
It’s only the controversial penalty in last year’s Forest Rally that would prevent Harry and Coral from being favourites at first glance. Dig deeper into the 2023 numbers though, and it’s hard to ignore their convincing 43 second Heat 1 winning margin.

Runner Up: Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall
Canberra didn’t give this pair much of an opportunity to get into the swing of all things ARC, but I’m looking forward to seeing them hit their stride in WA, hopefully challenging for stage wins along the way.

Podium: Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney
Home ground advantage?! It’s a shame we’re not returning to the Bunbury Speedway for the Super Special Stages because that style really suits Alex. If they can keep it tidy and mistake-free, I think they could come out on top of a tight battle for the final podium spot.

Dark Horse: Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith
They’ve got the speed and the knowledge of the WA roads to be in prime position to pounce on the Mainfix Production Cup honours if anything goes awry for Molly Taylor.

Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage: Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin
The only reason I haven’t got this pair in one of the podium positions is because of the magnitude of returning from a brilliant WRC effort in Portugal where both of them were horribly sick. Recovery, jetlag and potentially compromised preparation might set them back for this event, but I have full faith that Lewis can deliver another breathtaking Power Stage drive – after all, they clinched last year’s by just fourth tenths of a second!

Surprise Packet: Dylan King and Abbey Hayes
Taking the step from an Evo 9 to a Yaris for this year’s Forest Rally, Dylan could capitalise upon being a WA local to be in the mix for those highly competitive positions just outside the podium.

Production Cup: Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis
Molly has had plenty on her plate leading into this rally, so while preparation may be hampered by juggling a few dozen balls, her speed is never in doubt – provided they don’t suffer any mistakes or mechanical issues.