WACC hopeful of ARC returning to WA

With Western Australia’s border situation still uncertain, event organisers and Motorsport Australia will wait until early March before making any further decisions on the running of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in 2022.

The decision to wait until the start of next month came as a result of the mutual desire between Motorsport Australia and the West Australian Car Club (WACC) to run the Make Smoking History Forest Rally as a national championship round for the first time since 2019.

While the popular rally has still been held over the previous two years, it has taken place solely at state level, acting as a round of the Dunlop Tyres Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship (WARC) and the Clubman Cup.

Should the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship finally make its way out west this year, are some exciting changes planned for Australia’s best rally crews, many of whom wouldn’t have been in the state since Harry Bates and John McCarthy dominated the event three years ago.

One of the major modifications to the traditional Forest Rally itinerary include the rally’s starting point, which will no longer run at the Ferndale plantation, but instead, closer to Nannup with the Folly and Brockman Stages.

The Brockman Stages will also look a bit different this year due to the Nannup council having built a $2 million mountain bike venue, meaning the stage has been altered to avoid the area.

2021 Make Smoking History Forest Rally. Photo:  Jarrod Sierociak

Outside of the changes, the event will predominantly be the same as it has in previous years, which will run over three exciting days of action.

Starting on the Friday opposite the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre and with the Leschenault Inlet as the backdrop, the rally will then host a Super Special Stage at Bunbury Speedway and Autocross complex in the evening,

Heat one will then continue early on Saturday morning with crews to tackle a number of stages in addition to Folly and Brockman Stages, such as the Healthway and Ellis Stages, taking the total heat distance to 125 competitive kilometres.

With the Clubman Cup to finish up on Saturday, a shorter day on Sunday awaits just the ARC and WARC crews as 75 competitive kilometres on the schedule, including two runs of the Ferndale Stages and the Nannup Power Stage – the latter of which will be run in the Folly Plantation.

Event Clerk of the Course Ross Tapper was hopeful the event would take place in 2022 and was looking forward to welcoming the ARC to Western Australia again.

Max McRae in Action. Photo: CH Images

“The West Australian Car Club is working hard with the ARC with hope that the Forest Rally and WA can return to the ARC after missing the last two years,” Tapper said.

“This event has been a round of the ARC since 1985 and we are really keen to re-join the championship after a long break, so hopefully the border situation eases up within the next few weeks.

“I truly believe that we will be able to run as part of the ARC this year, but we are also mindful that we need to plan this carefully, so we are also making a backup plan for a state-only event if the current situation doesn’t change.

“If this is the case, it will be the same event regardless of ARC or not. The only difference will be that a testing session on Thursday morning will not take place.

“Still, we’re aiming to have the ARC here in May and we can’t wait to see a large contingent of ARC competitors back in the west for what has always been an iconic round of the national championship.”

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is scheduled to take place around Nannup on 20-22 May as round two of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship.


Main Photo: Harry Bates & John McCarty at the 2019 Make Smoking History Forest RFally. Credit: CMR Photographic

Focus turns West for Make Smoking History Forest Rally

A revived field, multiple team changes and new cars will bring a renewed energy to the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Western Australia’s South West next month, 27-29 April.

Bound to make the push for the win even more competitive is the fact that only two of the leading drivers, Tankformers Eli Evans and Subaru Motorsport’s Molly Taylor, have stood on the top step of the Forest Rally podium.

The teams hit the dirt for the first time in 2018 this weekend contesting the Eureka Rally in Ballarat, Victoria and it was Toyota Genuine Parts’ Harry Bates and John McCarthy who will head West on top of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) points table.

After debuting his new Toyota Yaris AP4 in Ballarat Bates will be looking to cement his ARC lead and secure his first win out West.

Bates / McCarthy at the 2016 Quit Forest Rally

“Forest Rally has been a really strong event for us in the past, I actually managed to take my very first heat win in the ARC in WA at the very start of 2016,” Bates said. “It’s an event that is a big challenge for a driver. You’ve got that unique ballbearing surface, but the roads are really enjoyable and it’s a really well organised event and Busselton is a really great place to visit too.”

South Australian rally favourite and seasoned competitor Steve Glenney will be heading back to WA in the driver seat for first time in a decade following a last minute switch to the line-up of the Craig Brook’s team. Glenney wasted no time making his mark on the championship in Victoria finishing second outright and will be a force to be reckoned with in the forests around Nannup.

An experienced tarmac competitor he will also carry a distinct advantage on the tarmac stages around the Busselton Foreshore on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“Forest Rally is a great event, it’s generally a bit slipperier and so you spend a lot more time on the corners and judging your length of corners but it’s enjoyable and it’s a great part of the world to go to, so I’m looking forward to it,” Glenny said.

Three time Australian Rally Champion Eli Evans has a new co-driver, West Australian Ben Searcy, and has admitted the team have some work to do if they want to take the championship lead off Bates come April.

“Aggressive drivers do really well at the Forest Rally and I tend to be a little bit aggressive at times,” Evans said. “It’s been a good rally for me in the past and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve got eight weeks before we have to start that event and we’ve got a list of things we want to change on the car and see if we can find that extra pace.”

Subaru Motorsport’s Molly Taylor, the 2017 Make Smoking History Forest Rally Champion, will be hoping to leave her run of bad luck in Victoria with a puncture and run in with a Kangaroo leaving her fifth in the championship coming into the second round.

In a boost for local hopes at the Forest Rally Brad Markovic returned to the drivers seat – and the ARC – for the first time since back surgery in 2017, joined by fellow West Australian Toni Feaver in the co-drivers seat, they sit sixth in the championship.

Markovic / Feaver at the 2017 Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Neal Bates Motorsport’s Lewis Bates will be making the trek West for the first time and will be hoping to make a strong impression on debut

Former Forest Rally event winner, Victorian Glen Raymond, is weighing up his options after a competitive showing in Ballarat and will hopefully join the field heading over to contest the second round.

More than 50 crews from across Western Australia and the nation will contest the Make Smoking History Forest Rally through the forests of Nannup and around the electric Trade Hire Busselton Special Stage. The event is the second round of both the CAMS Australian Rally Championship® and the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship.