Perth-based New Zealander Mike Young and co-driver Scott Beckwith have narrowly won the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in thrilling fashion after four different crews enjoyed the lead throughout the second round of the 2020 Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship.
Young and Beckwith eventually took out the victory after beating reigning champions John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver by just half a second.
With 46 entries competing in the eight stage rally, crews battled it out over 135 competitive kilometres on some former World Rally Championship roads.
Behind the wheel of the Subaru WRX STi, Young and Beckwith won four of the event’s eight stages, but only hit the lead at the end of the event when they pipped O’Dowd’s Skoda Fabia R5 on the final stage by two seconds.
Having led the rally after the first three stages, last year’s championship runners-up Ben Searcy and James Marquet steered their Swift Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer to outright third place, just over a minute behind the top two crews.
Young’s victory put an end to O’Dowd and Feaver’s dominance over the competition in recent years, which has seen them win every round they have entered since the start of 2019.
“It was a big battle all day and it’s always good when a rally is being fought until the last stage,” the four-time FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship runner-up said.
“Between myself, John (O’Dowd) and Ben (Searcy), we kept each other honest and kept pushing each other, each trading times, which made us all drive a bit faster.
“The stages were awesome, in great condition and super smooth, it was really enjoyable.
“The car ran smoothly, Maximum Motorsport produced a good car, it was great to drive all day.
“I took it easy to start with, the first stage I was a little slow and as I got more comfortable in the car and more confident, I started pushing a bit more.”
Finishing in outright fifth place behind Craig Rando and Stephen Wade, Nic Box and Daymon Nicoli ended the event as 2WD winners after claiming a clean sweep of stages wins.
It was a comfortable outing for the duo who managed to come away with a three minute class victory over fellow Nissan Silvia S13 pilots Michael Joss and Megan Logue, while 16-year-old rookie Max McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes rounded out the class podium
“I didn’t do any preparation as I had just got back from a fishing trip the day before the rally, I hooked up the trailer, got some fuel and went racing, and the car was perfect, no issues at all,” Box said.
“The stages were some of WA’s best roads ever, it’d be great to drive on them more often.
“The rally was perfect in every way – perfect weather, perfect stages, perfect car, perfect organisation.”
Also taking place at the event were the Clubman Masters and Clubman Cup categories, as Alex and Lisa White took out the Masters. Abe Tuckett and Macneall steered their Hyundai Lantra to the Clubman Cup victory.
In what was a tough event for crews, only 36 of the 46 entries were able to finish all eight stages, with nine retiring in the final two stages and outright stage one winners Peter Major and Declan Stafford rolling on the second stage.
The Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship will return next month with the Make Smoking History Karri Rally in Manjimup on 3 October.