Event Preview: 2021 Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Oxley / Wood in full flights on stage near Nannup (2019)
Credit: CMR Photographic

Western Australian rally drivers will be back to contest the WA Rally Championship on the forestry roads near Nannup for the 2021 Make Smoking History Forest Rally on May 21 – 23.


The Forest Rally will be the second round of the WA Rally Championship (WARC) and Clubman Cup, with 45 entered teams hoping to collect sought after points for their 2021 season campaigns. 


The event commences Friday night (May 21) on the Bunbury Super Special Stage at the Bunbury Speedway circuit and Autocross track. A new addition to the Forest Rally programme, this stage offers an arena-like atmosphere with two crews competing simultaneously on the 1.8km course under lights.


On Saturday (May 22), competitors will head to the gravel forestry roads around the picturesque Nannup region to start Heat 1. WARC competitors will have eight stages and 129 kilometres of competition to set their best time before returning on Sunday, where Heat 2 has a further five stages and 62 competitive kilometres in store.


The pressure will be on Clubman Cup competitors who cross the finish line a day earlier than their WARC counterparts, having just ten stages and 101 kilometres to set their event winning times in. 


Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said organisers and competitors were glad to be back in the Nannup region after the pandemic forced a change in the course last year.


“You could say that the pandemic caused a bit of a break in the usual programming last year, but we’re thrilled to be back in the area that Forest Rally is synonymous with,” said Mr Tapper. “The locals are always very welcoming, and the roads provide plenty of variety for teams. It’s a pity our competitors will be going too fast to enjoy the scenery because that’s quite stunning also!


“We do have a couple of new additions to the Forest Rally programme this year in the Bunbury Super Special Stage and the Nannup Power Stage. Both stages should be quite the spectacle to watch and provide some close quarters rallying.”


Being one of the highlights in the WA Rally Championship calendar, the Forest Rally entry list sees many familiar names in Western Australian rallying.


Current WARC leader and no stranger to the Forest Rally podium John O’Dowd will be returning with co-driver Toni Feaver in the Skoda Fabia. O’Dowd and Feaver will no doubt be seeking another round win to further their Championship lead.


In search of a podium place will be Ben Searcy and co-driver Daymon Nicoli in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Searcy has shown his versatility in the sport by transitioning from a sought-after co-driver to a driver who consistently places in the Top 3.


One to watch is rookie driver Ali Aslam. Aslam finished the first round of the WARC in 5th place – an impressive first event result considering the quality of the field he was up against. Aslam is paired with co-driver Michael Wood and will be driving a Subaru Impreza.


In the 2WD category, 2020 championship winners Michael Joss and Megan Logue’s season couldn’t have started better – the duo took first place in Round 1. They’ll be back in the Nissan Silvia S15.


The Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters is a lower cost category that offers great rallying competition with less time and budget commitments.


Round 1 Clubman Cup winner Tom van Kann will be returning with co-driver Steven Proctor, in the Datsun 200B.


Back from recently competing in the Rally of the Heartland in South Australia, Bruce Lake and Peter Hall are back in the West and looking to expand on their Clubman Cup points in the Nissan 260Z.


With the Current Clubman Masters leading driver absent from this round’s entry list – one of the category’s three contesting teams will cross the Forest Rally finish line to be equal points leader. 


The competition in the Clubman Masters Category is predicted to be tight between the three contesting teams. Nannup local and accomplished rally-driver Tom Wilde and co-driver Andy van Kann is one pairing to watch. Wilde will be piloting van Kann’s 1974 Toyota Corolla.


John Ludlam’s rotary-powered Datsun 1600 nicknamed the Dazda is likely to be a crowd favourite which will keep the heat on both Wilde/van Kann and Carl Rattenbury and co-driver Ashley Burton in the Ford Escort. 


The Forest Rally is sponsored by Healthway and the Make Smoking History message, Tourism WA, Shannons and the Shire of Nannup.


For further information on the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, please visit forestrally.com.au.


Make Smoking History Forest Rally – Where to see

Please consult the event Spectator Guide for the best and safest areas to view the rally.

Bunbury Super Special Stage

Friday Evening, 6pm – 8.30pm

The Bunbury Super Special stage incorporates parts of the Bunbury Speedway circuit and Autocross track, delivering a similar style of rallying action as the highly popular Rally Australia Langley Park stage.

The stage sees two cars competing simultaneously on the 1.8km course, starting side by side before splitting off in different directions, then coming back alongside each other in time for a dash to the finish line.

The venue offers plenty of viewing vantage points for spectators.


Nannup Service Park

Saturday and Sunday

The Nannup Sport and Recreation Centre will be the home to the behind-the-scenes action on Saturday and Sunday. The service teams based here will be ready to spring into action, checking over the rally cars and refreshing competitive crew in between runs. The public are welcome to visit, see the cars up close, and experience a rally service park’s bustling atmosphere firsthand.

Nannup Power Stage

Sunday, 12.40pm

The Nannup Power Stage is the final stage of the Forest Rally. All competitors will complete the fast 3.5km loop style stage, with the Top 10 competitors running in reverse order, from 10th to first for a nail-biting finish to the event.


Podium Presentations

Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters, Saturday 5pm

WA Rally Championship, Sunday 2.45pm


Congratulate the 2021 Make Smoking History Forest Rally winners and experience the podium celebrations at the Nannup Sport and Recreation Centre.