Western Australian co-driving trio called upon for Rally Australia
Photo: Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes on track for a 2015 Australian Rally Championship podium finish. Credit: Stuart Bowes.
There will be three Western Australian co-drivers stepping up to the plate when the Rally Australia round of the Australian Rally Championships (ARC) gets underway in Coffs Harbour on Thursday. Both Toni Feaver and Glen Macneall have been called upon by new drivers, while Bill Hayes will be continuing with Molly Taylor in their pursuit of the Championship podium.
As a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Australia is a great opportunity for ARC competitors to test themselves against the world’s best. Rally Australia is also a round of endurance, with three days of stages compared to the usual two.
All eyes will be on Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes who are trailing championship leaders Eli Evans and Glen Weston by just eight points.
“It’s the second last round of the season, so we are due for another win we think,” said Hayes. “That would be helpful. It's so close - close enough that no-one can rest. We need to put a bit of pressure on Eli, and he can't afford to make any mistakes either.
“With Rally Australia being an endurance event, you need to be more conservative than you do in the sprint rounds. It's a hard balance, because no one goes any slower! We just aim to look after things a little bit more, manage it and try to make better decisions on tyre choices. We’ll be carrying a couple of spares that we wouldn't normally bother with.
“Testing went really well and we are going into the weekend nice and positive.”
Testing didn’t go quite as smoothly for Glen Macneall, who will be navigating for Mark Pedder in the Peugeot 208 Maxi for the first time.
“Testing wise, we weren't able to get many runs done due to some small teething issues with the car,” said Macneall.
“It's a new partnership and Mark's driving a new car that's in development. He called on me mainly because he hasn't driven this type of car before, he has driven the Group N cars which aren’t as highly modified. The Peugeot 208 Maxi is a bit more of a race car, and I'm lucky enough that I've got experience in that area, so I'm helping him to understand how he gets the most out of the car. You've got to adjust your driving style to get the full benefit out of it.
“This is his third event in this particular car – and he’s faster each time, but it’s a matter of getting the set-up right to suit Mark. We still aim to be competitive, but primarily we’re just looking to the future.
“The Rally Australia stages are fairly fast so they require lots of commitment, and having commitment means the pace noting we are doing over the next couple of days needs to be right, like any event. But with the high speed stuff, if you are erring when you should be doing, then you are losing time. Success in this event is about making sure you focus on the pace notes and really commit to them.”
Toni Feaver is currently leading in the Western Australian Rally Championship co-drivers table, just seven points ahead of Macneall. The two are in close competition on the East Coast as well – both being in new driver and navigator partnerships and in cars currently under development. Feaver will be co-driving with Justin Dowel in the Hyundai i20 Proto, and he has the Maxi Peugeot in his sights.
“I think people really responded to the look of the Hyundai i20 Proto, it looks exciting, it looks aggressive, it looks like a proper rally car!” Dowel said.
“We’ll be at Rally Australia to win the four-wheel drives and beat the Maxi Peugeot.”
“I've been doing ARC since 1998, but this is my first time co-driving for Justin Dowel,” said Feaver.
“We talked about doing a season last year when his regular co-driver Matt Lee decided to step out of the car, but Justin decided against committing to a full season. Matt was back in the car again for him this year, but I believe he's injured himself so I'm stepping in for him for the moment.
“This is really just an Australian Rally Championship round for us. We're doing a different itinerary to the WRC cars with two less stages, so we can't really compare ourselves to what they are doing. We are just purely trying to get this new car to the end of the rally with as minimal problems as we can, and develop the car through each event.
“The key is not to get overwhelmed by the fact it is a World Rally Championship event also, we are just trying to view it as another rally.”
Rally Australia, the fourth and penultimate round of the Australian Rally Championship, will get underway in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast on Thursday September 10, with competitors crossing the finish line on Sunday September 13. The rally features a compact format on gravel forestry and shire roads north, south and west of the Coffs Harbour headquarters.
On their return to Western Australia, the co-drivers will start preparing for the next round of the Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship. The Carrington’s Safari Rally will be held in Chidlow on October 10. For more information please see www.rallywa.com.
Media contact: Lauren Cornes, Pronto PR, 0431 080 811, email@example.com