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.

New Bunbury Super Special Stage Headlines Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Copyright Photo: Blake Rattenbury 

The opening kilometres of this year’s Make Smoking History Forest Rally will kick off May 21 on the new and highly anticipated Bunbury Super Special stage.

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.

Clerk of Course Ross Tapper says the Bunbury Super Special stage will be a programme highlight for both competitors and spectators alike and sets the scene for a great weekend of rallying.

“The Bunbury Super Special stage is a first for the Make Smoking History Forest Rally programme, and we expect it will deliver some sensational rally action,” said Mr Tapper.

“Having two cars competing at the same time under lights gives both competitors and fans something not often seen in WA rallying, and the venue offers plenty of viewing vantage points.”

WA Rally Championship (WARC) and Clubman Cup competitors will have four runs each on the tight and technical 1.8km Bunbury Super Special stage, before the competition moves into the picturesque forestry roads of Nannup on Saturday and Sunday (May 22 – 23).

During the event weekend, WARC competitors will battle for championship points over 191.9 competitive kilometres, with the Nannup Power Stage the final challenge before crossing the finish line on Sunday. The Nannup Power Stage is another new addition to the Make Smoking History Forest Rally programme and sees the Top 10 competitors running in reverse order, from 10th to first, for a nail-biting finish to the event.

The Clubman Cup is contested over a shorter event, with competitors crossing the finish line on Saturday afternoon after battling for points over 101 competitive kilometres. 

Unlike previous years, the Make Smoking History Forest Rally will not be a round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC). 

“Due to the uncertainty in regards to COVID-19 and state borders, this year’s event is only open to local competitors,” said Mr Tapper. “But we are looking forward to welcoming our interstate ARC competitors back to the event when access to our State is more certain.

“COVID-19 also may affect our ability to have spectators at the Forest Rally. We’re monitoring health advice and will communicate any developments that may affect the event through our online channels. However, we are planning for spectators and remain optimistic that we’ll be able to welcome them to the event.”

Competitors have less than two weeks left to enter the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, with entries closing 8pm Thursday, May 13. Entries are to be submitted through the Motorsport Australia Portal.

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.

 

 

Big local field for Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Forty-six local gravel rally competitors are ready to race the clock at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally on Sunday 13th September 2020 taking place near Harvey and Collie, south-west of Perth.
 
The Forest Rally has been run since 1983 and part of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) national competition since 1985, with this year being an exception due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19.
 
Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said that Western Australia is the only state that has run a round of the ARC continuously since 1974 (different rallies to the Forest Rally).
 
“Only a pandemic has stopped us from having a national rally,” Tapper said.
 
“The pandemic means we’ve had to make other changes that include running the Make Smoking History Forest Rally and the Experts Cup at the same time as part of the Motorsport Australia WA State Championship.
 
“It hasn’t stopped local competitors though, we have a strong field who are excited to be driving along some of the former World Rally Championship stages that were used when Rally Australia was held in WA, the last time it was held here was in 2006.”
 
Leading the State Championship after the first round, Bakers Hill, is John O’Dowd and co-driver Toni Feaver in their WRC2 spec Truck Wholesale WA Skoda Fabia R5. In the past, the power of the R5 has seen O’Dowd significantly faster than his rivals, but this time he’s got competition.
 
“At Bakers Hill, Craig Rando and Ben Searcy were quick and closing the gap, but throw in Nic Box, Mike Young and a big field and I reckon there’ll be lot of competition, which is the way I like it, and it should make for a good rally,” O’Dowd said.
 
“My strategy is just to be on it from the start, write a good set of notes and commit to them, and hopefully the speed will come.
 
“I’m looking forward to it, the roads are good, and I like the Wellington Dam stages.”
 
Perth-based New Zealander Mike Young and co-driver Scott Beckwith will be ones to watch in their Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI.
 
Young by name and young in age at just 27, Mike Young is a nine-year veteran in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, driving for Japanese team, Cusco Racing. A regular on the podium, Young has finished runner-up in the APRC four times and was crowned Asia Cup Champion last year and also in 2013.
 
“I’m feeling fairly confident, although I haven’t rallied since October last year, and I don’t know these roads, but the good thing is that some of the stages are new, which should help,” Young said.
 
“I’ve not tested this car, but I’ve driven a very similar car in the Asia Pacific, it’ll be like riding a bike.
 
“I’m itching to get back out there after a long break and I’m sick of watching everyone else have fun, so I had to get out there and do it myself. I can’t wait,” he said.
 
Returning to rallying are former State Champions Doug Tostevin and co-driver Tammy Adams in their 1992 Subaru Liberty RS, the duo likely to shake up the front end of the field.
 
In the 2WD, competition is expected to be fierce between Nic Box and co-driver in Daymon Nicoli in their Alistar Garage Nissan Silvia S13, Glenn Alcorn and Jonathan Charlesson in their BMG Autos Ford Escort MK2, husband and wife Razvan and Ioana Vlad in their MAXYRally Ford Fiesta, Mike Joss and Megan Logue in their Mike Joss Racing Nissan Silvia S15, and Mick Steele and Katie Oxley in their NATRAD Malaga Nissan Silvia S13.
 
Carrying a famous rallying name, sixteen-year-old rookie Max McRae will be with experienced co-driver Bill Hayes in their Dirtfish Ford Fiesta ST150, hoping to finish his first State Championship rally.
 
In the Clubman Cup, Alex and Lisa White in their Information Proficiency Nissan Silvia S13 are favourites however Rod Fowler and co-driver Keith Mayes in their Sussan Fowler Peugeot 206 GTI and Able Tuckett and Glenn Macneal, WA’s most decorated co-driver having competed in over 100 WRC rallies, are likely to be making a charge for the top step in their Humble Bee Finance Hyundai Lantra.
 
Competitors will tackle 140 kilometres of flat out competition on eight closed road Special Stages including a mammoth 31-kilometre stage around Wellington Dam, travelling a total distance of almost 300 kilometres.
 
The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is free for spectators and there are dedicated spectator points for the best vantage points to watch the rally action. Get a close look at rally cars in the Service Park based in the centre of Collie and see how crews miraculously fix huge mechanical problems in record time.
 
For more information including spectator points and maps, please visit https://forestrally.com.au/

Ex-WRC stages ready for Make Smoking History Forest Rally

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally has competitors raring to go, starting on one of the old Rally Australia stages near Harvey before moving towards Collie on Sunday 13th September 2020.
 
Usually a round of the Australian Rally Championship national competition, changes have had to be made due to COVID, which sees the Make Smoking History Forest Rally and the Experts Cup held concurrently as part of the Motorsport Australia WA State Championship.
 
Rally Australia was a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) and last held in Perth in 2006, attracting the world’s best drivers who competed on some of the best rally roads in the State.
 
Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said that although this year’s Make Smoking History Forest Rally has a compacted format, it’s a course that has drivers excited.
 
“Arguably, the stages around Wellington Dam and the old Rally Australia stages of Harvey Weir, Brunswick and Wellington are some of the best rally stages in WA, if not Australia,” Mr Tapper said.
 
“The famous ball-bearing gravel adds an extra level of complexity for drivers, it’s like trying to control a car driving at speed on thousands of marbles.”
 
Competitors will race the clock along 140 kilometres of flat out competition on eight closed road Special Stages including a mammoth 31-kilometre stage around Wellington Dam and travel a total distance of almost 300 kilometres.
 
A rally differs from other forms of motorsport in that the cars do not compete on a ‘circuit’ instead they compete on closed road sections that they have only driven over twice in order to make their ‘pace notes’, a short-hand system of symbols that enables the co-driver to describe to the driver what lies ahead, hides around the next corner or over a blind crest.
 
During a rally, drivers may only see a particular corner four times and given that the gravel conditions will be different each time with the traversing of a field of competitors, it can be argued that rally drivers are the most skilled of all motorsport competitors.
 
The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is free for spectators and there are dedicated spectator points for the best vantage points to watch the rally action. Get a close look at rally cars in the Service Park based in the centre of Collie and see how crews miraculously fix huge mechanical problems in record time.
 
For more information including spectator points and maps, please visit https://forestrally.com.au/

Harry Bates victorious as Toyota claim 1-2 at Make Smoking History Forest Rally


Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy. Image credit Tim Allott

Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy have won the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Western Australia today.

11 years since his father, Neal Bates, stood on the Forest Rally podium the result was made even sweeter with the team locking out the top two steps of the podium at the event with Lewis Bates/Anthony McLoughlin in second.

Continue reading “Harry Bates victorious as Toyota claim 1-2 at Make Smoking History Forest Rally”

Harry Bates wins Heat One of Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Harry Bates and John McCarthey photo credit: CMR Photographic

Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy have taken Heat One of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Nannup, WA today.

Going into the day in second position by the narrowest of margins (0.1 seconds) Bates was quick out of the blocks on the opening forest stages building a strong lead by the first morning service which he held for the remainder of the day.

“It feels great to start the rally – and the new season – with a win. I don’t come here (to WA) and expect to win from car one on the road but we were probably able to capitalise on a couple of other people’s issues this morning and do that so it feels perfect,” Harry Bates said.

Continue reading “Harry Bates wins Heat One of Make Smoking History Forest Rally”

Harry Bates leads at halfway point of Heat One at Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Photo credit: Tim Allott

Harry Bates is leading the field at the halfway point of Heat One at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Nannup, Western Australia today.

After six stages Bates and his co-driver John McCarthy hold a 19.6 second lead over nearest rivals, Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and his navigator Anthony McLoughlin, who clawed back some time over the final stage before the lunch time service break.

Harry Bates, behind the wheel of his brand new Toyota Yaris AP4, has come into the event as favourite but says he always expected Lewis to be close.

Continue reading “Harry Bates leads at halfway point of Heat One at Make Smoking History Forest Rally”

Teenage cancer sufferer, Troy Dowel, to return to competitive motorsport this weekend

An inspirational turn of events has seen a change in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally entry list with exciting young competitor Troy Dowel, to replace his father – and 2011 Australian Rally Champion Justin Dowel – in the event this weekend.

Dowel, now 18, was diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia while in Ireland in 2018 ahead of the fourth round of the RX Academy in Finland. In November, he received encouraging news that his leukaemia was in remission and he set a goal to return to racing in the first half of this year.

A break in his chemotherapy treatment presented Dowel with an opportunity to make that dream a reality and just last week he completed 100km of testing in the Up & Go G4 Rally car in a bid to successfully prove his fitness for the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

Considering he hadn’t driven since August last year, and in the meantime had undergone an intense chemotherapy treatment plan, it was vital that Dowel prove he was able to handle the intense effort that comes with driving under the tough conditions rallying presents.

On Tuesday Dowel received medical clearance from the Confederation of Australian Motorsport and he will now make the trek over to Western Australia to contest the rally against the best drivers in the country.

Continue reading “Teenage cancer sufferer, Troy Dowel, to return to competitive motorsport this weekend”

Make Smoking History Forest Rally ready to excite as opening round of CAMS Australian Rally Championship

Photo: Harry Bates contests the 2018 Make Smoking History Forest Rally. Credit: CMR Photographic

A new look field and changes to the forest stages will create excitement for crews and spectators at the upcoming Make Smoking History Forest Rally to be held in Western Australia from 5 -7 April.

Exciting changes to the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) introduced over the off-season including; new formats for several events, an increased online presence and most importantly the return of some former ARC heavyweights to the series have set the scene for a huge year in the Championship which officially gets underway in WA at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

The recent bush fires which devastated parts of the state forest and pine plantations around Nannup caused last minute stage changes for organisers, with two planned new stages having to be abandoned and a new stage created.

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Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver dominate state class at Make Smoking History Forest Rally

The second round of the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship has been run in the state’s South West this weekend with more than 30 crews contesting the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

Maximum Motorsport’s Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver recorded a clean sweep of the event winning 13 stages and both Heats to claim a comfortable victory.
Continue reading “Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver dominate state class at Make Smoking History Forest Rally”