RALLY: Make Smoking History Forrest Rally Welcomes Back Interstate Competitors

Western Australia welcomes back interstate rally drivers for the first time since the pandemic broke, with 70 drivers raring to tackle exciting and challenging stages at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally held from 20th to 22nd May 2022.

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is the second round of the national RSEA Safety Australian Rally Championship and the second round of the Dunlop Western Australian State Rally Championship (WARC).

The rally is split into two Heats. Teams competing in the full event will race the clock along 17 stages, 182.5 kilometres on the forest roads around Nannup in Western Australia’s south west over three days, while Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters competitors will compete over 121 kilometres in Heat 1 only.

The rally starts with cars displayed at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre ahead of the Shannons Bunbury Super Special Stage on Friday 20th May, where the rally cars will race at 30-second intervals with four runs each in a spectacular free show at the Bunbury Speedway Circuit.

On Saturday (May 21), Heat 1 sees competitors take to the gravel roads in the forests around the pretty town of Nannup and Heat 2 on Sunday (22 May) has a further five stages and 62 competitive kilometres in store.

Nannup Recreation and Community Centre will be transformed into the rally Service Park over the weekend. Free to enter, spectators can see mechanics working furiously to fix rally cars the 20- or 30-minute services, sometimes changing entire gearboxes in that time.

Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said he was thrilled to be able to welcome back interstate competitors for a national competition.

“West Australian rally drivers are eager to pit their skills against interstate competitors, something many of them haven’t been able to do for over two years,” said Mr Tapper.

“Visitors and spectators love the warm welcome received from locals and competitors love the challenging rally stages and gravel roads around Nannup.”

Alex and Lisa White, 2WD. Photo: Travis Barnes

An impressive entry list of 70 drivers including 14 interstate crews lead by current ARC leader Harry Bates, along with Lewis Bates and Eli Evans who’ll be up against local rally drivers including Round 1 winner Craig Rando, John O’Dowd, Max McRae, Peter Rullo and Alex Rullo, the latter two experienced in tarmac rallying but rookies in this gravel rally.

No stranger to the Forest Rally podium is Gooseberry Hill resident John O’Dowd and co-driver Toni Feaver. They missed the WARC first round due to O’Dowd selling his rally car and having six pins inserted into his right shoulder following a mountain bike accident. A rally car has become available through Race Torque, the temptation too great to keep O’Dowd away, who says he’s hopeful his shoulder has sufficiently healed.

Offspring of a famous rally family, Max McRae (Mullaloo) and his co-driver Mac Kierans (Russell Lea) will be competing in a 2009 Subaru WRX STI.

Two-time Targa West winner Peter Rullo (Gooseberry Hill), a veteran of tarmac rallying, is a rookie in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, taking to the gravel in a 2015 Peugeot 208 with regular co-driver and friend Jimmy Marquet calling the notes.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my first gravel rally at the Experts Cup at the end of last year but unfortunately this year, we had electrical issues in the first round which meant we couldn’t finish. So, we thought we’d give the Forest Rally a crack,” said Peter Rullo.

Rullo’s 21-year-old son, Alex Rullo, the winner of the Albany Targa Sprint held in February and former V8 Supercar driver, will have experienced co-driver and coach Steve Glenney sitting beside him calling notes.

“We’ve bought Mike Civil’s car for Alex, a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, that’s suitable for either gravel or tarmac,” Mr Rullo said.

“Rallying on gravel is completely different to tarmac and Alex has always wanted to do a gravel rally, I’m just aiming to get some experience on gravel and have fun.”

South West competitors to watch are Garry Whittle (Argyle) with Ryan Doe (Dalyellup) who will be hoping to be the fastest locals in their 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, while Kody Reynolds (Ambergate) and co-driver Anthony Staltari in their 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX STI will be doing all they can to stop them.

Dedicated spectator points are set up across the Make Smoking History Forest Rally and entry is free all weekend.

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