Tight battle on epic stages in perfect conditions – Make Smoking History Forest Rally

In near perfect conditions, 46 local gravel rally competitors ripped through some of Australia’s best rally stages yesterday (13th September 2020) for the Make Smoking History Forest Rally near Harvey and Collie, south-west of Perth.

Young / Beckwith. Copyright Photo: Tim Allott 

After a chilly start with some low morning fog, the sun came out and the crowds flocked. There was enough moisture in the soil to keep dust low and give the roads grip, which competitors seem to relish.

In the WA Rally Championship, it was a tight battle with four different leaders throughout the rally, three stage winners, and loads of sideways action and dirt being flung that kept hundreds of spectators entertained. The ex World Rally Championship stages that were used for Rally Australia were a hit with drivers and spectators alike.

Competitors tackled 135 kilometres of flat out competition on eight closed road Special Stages including a mammoth 32-kilometre stage around Wellington Dam that was run twice, and travelled a total distance of almost 300 kilometres.

The last two stages saw nine retirements, most of which were mechanical failures besides a major non-critical incident on the final stage where a driver and co-driver and were taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital for precautionary checks.

Of the 46 starters, 36 completed the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

O’Dowd / Feaver. Copyright Photo: CMR Photographic
Searcy / Marquet. Copyright Photo: Travis Barnes

WARC

 
It was closely fought battle in the WARC that was won by the narrowest of margins. Perth-based New Zealander Mike Young and co-driver Scott Beckwith won four of the eight stages to take the win in their Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI just half a second (0.5 second) ahead of John O’Dowd and co-driver Toni Feaver in their WRC2 spec Truck Wholesale WA Skoda Fabia R5.
 
Rounding out the top three 1:08 minutes behind O’Dowd was Ben Searcy and co-driver James Marquet in their Swift Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer.
 
Young, 27, is no stranger to the podium or tough competition having won two Asia Cups and having finished runner up four times in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
 
“It was a big battle all day and it’s always good when a rally is being fought until the last stage,” Young 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.”
 
It was the first time Young had driven the Maximum Motorsport prepared WRX, and it was the first win for his co-driver Scott Beckwith.
 
“The car ran smoothly, Maximum Motorsport produced a good car, it was great to drive all day,” he said.
 
“I took it easy to start with, the first stage I was little slow and as I got more comfortable in the car and more confident, I started pushing a bit more.
 
“Ross and his team do an awesome job organising the rally, the choice of stages was a good mix and really enjoyable to drive.”
 
Usually the power of the R5 sees O’Dowd significantly faster than his rivals and he still showed pace winning three of the rally’s eight stages.
 
“The first two stages were slow, maybe I need time to warm up. We got on it and were 20 seconds or so in front of Mike (Young) going into the seventh, and we came across a car that went off, which put me off and I overshot a corner and lost 24 seconds, that’s not an excuse, it’s just what happened,” O’Dowd said.
 
“The stages were excellent and I enjoyed the battle with Mike (Young) and Ben (Searcy). The car ran perfectly, Toni (Feaver, co-driver) and Race Torque did a magnificent job as always.”
 
Third-placed Searcy started off with a cracking pace and was leading the rally after the second and third stages but was unable to maintain the lead and keep pace with Young and O’Dowd.
 
The first stage of the day was won by Peter Major and Declan Stafford but their glory was short-lived as they rolled on the second stage, forcing their retirement.
 

Overall WARC
PosCar
No
CrewVehicleTotal
Gap 1st 
16YOUNG
BECKWITH
Subaru
WRX STI
1:32:30.1
+
24O’DOWD
FEAVER
Skoda
Fabia R5
1:32:40.6
+00:10.5
31SEARCY
MARQUET
Mitsubishi
Lancer Evo 9
1:33:48.6
+01:18.5
Box / Nicoli. Copyright Photo: CMR Photographic

2WD

 
In the 2WD, Nic Box and his new co-driver Daymon Nicoli were quickest on every stage taking a clean sweep to win convincingly by 3:14 minutes in their Alistar Garage Nissan Silvia S13 ahead of Michael Joss and Megan Logue in their Mike Joss Racing Nissan Silvia S15.
 
Rounding out the top three a further 1:25 minutes behind was 16-year-old rookie and learner driver Max McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes in their Dirtfish Ford Fiesta ST150. After McRae’s debut at Bakers Hill which resulted in a DNF, it was great to see the youngster finish his first rally and take his first step onto the podium.
 
Box said that entering the Make Smoking History Forest Rally was a last-minute decision.
 
“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,” he 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, the only thing that wasn’t perfect was my co-driver, but I gave him a hard time and did what any self-respecting driver would do, which was 90 per cent of the effort while he put in 10 per cent, just enough for me to get the job done!” quipped Box.
 
As well as taking title honours in the 2WD category, Box / Nicoli finished fifth outright.
 
Usually one of the front runners in the 2WD, Razvan Vlad and his co-driver and wife Ioana had an off on the first stage, which looked like it was going to force a retirement, but they managed to rejoin in the sixth stage.  
 
“It took us a while to dig the car out which only sustained cosmetic damage – bumper, lights, panels, so we missed the first five stages and rejoined after the service – I’m just sorry we didn’t get to drive on the first two stages which were really nice,” Vlad said.
 
 

Overall 2WD
PosCar
No
CrewVehicleTotal
Gap 1st 
12BOX
NICOLI
Nissan
Silvia S13
1:37:46.5
+
211JOSS
LOGUE
Nissan
Silvia S15
1:41:01.0
+03:14.5
325MCRAE
HAYES
Ford
Fiesta ST150
1:41:18.2
+03:31.7
White / White. Copyright Photo: Tim Allott

Clubman Masters and Clubman Cup  
The Clubman Masters and Clubman Cup categories are designed to be more accessible to those with less time, less budget or those who are new to the sport. Competitors completed the first five stages of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, racing the clock along 79 competitive kilometres.
 
Both competitors in the Clubman Masters finished with Alex and Lisa White fastest in their Information Proficiency Nissan Silvia S13, 3:38 minutes ahead of Graeme and Kathy Miles in their Miles Landscaping Mitsubishi Lancer.
 
Winning two out of two rallies in the Clubman Cup category was Abe Tuckett and Australia’s most decorated co-driver, Glenn Macneall in their Humble Bee Finance Hyundai Excel. In second place, 3:06 minutes behind were rookies Glenn Cawood and Murish O’Connell in their Shedforce Mitsubishi Lancer. Rounding out the top three was Bruce Lake and Peter Hall in their Carol Lake Datsun 240Z.

Overall Clubman Masters
PosCar
No
CrewVehicleTotal
Gap 1st 
139WHITE
WHITE
Nissan
Silvia S13
1:02:26.8
+
242MILES
MILES
Mitsubishi
Lancer
1:06:04.8
+03:38.0
Overall Clubman Cup
PosCar
No
CrewVehicleTotal
Gap 1st 
141TUCKETT
MACNEALL
Hyundai
Lantra
1:03:09.7
+
243CAWOOD
O’CONNELL
Mitsubishi
Lancer
1:06:16.2
+03:06.5
345LAKE
HALL
Datsun
240Z
1:09:37.2
+06:27.5
Tuckett / Macneal. Copyright Photo: CMR Photographic

As a result of COVID-19, the Forest Rally was compacted from a three-day to one-day rally and held around Collie and Harvey (usually Busselton and Nannup), and it’s the first time in 35 years that the Forest Rally hasn’t been a part of the Motorsport Australia Australian Rally Championship (ARC) national competition.

For more full results, visit https://forestrally.com.au/

Next
The next rally, Round 3, is the Trade Hire Karri Rally on 3rd October 2020 and will be held around Manjimup in Western Australia’s south-west.

For more information, visit http://rallywa.com/events/

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.

Continue reading “Make Smoking History Forest Rally ready to excite as opening round of CAMS Australian Rally Championship”

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”

FULL RESULTS: 2018 Make Smoking History Forest Rally

More than 50 crews from across Australia have this weekend contested the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally was the second rounds of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship®, the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship and the WA Clubman Masters and Clubman Cup.

The event, was held in Busselton and Nannup in the South West region of Western Australia.

View full results list

FULL Results List