Guest is Keen on Tarmac

Photo courtesy of Pirtek Rally Team The recent announcement that the ‘Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge’ will join the Australian Rally Championship as a tarmac round of the series has been welcomed as positive step for the series by Pirtek LWR Rally team driver Michael Guest.

"I think it’s a fantastic opportunity, and not only for myself. When I did the WRC, the one part of my game that was lacking was the tarmac rally experience. So it’s a great opportunity for young drivers to be exposed to tarmac rallying. It gives them that experience when they head over there, and I think it adds another dimension to the championship. It’s an exciting development."

Guest is one of the few Australians to have competed regularly in the World Rally Championship, and that should give him an advantage on the fast Tasmanian roads. "The last (tarmac) event I did was San Remo in 2000. I’ve done a lot of testing in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, in Group-N Subarus, and Formula 2 and WRC Hyundais. I did Rally Catalunya in ’99 and finished 5th in Group-N, which was the best result Subaru had in a P-WRC round."

Photo courtesy of "I did Spain again in 2000 in the F2 car, and was running second to (Philippe) Bugowski until I had a big accident; a front-left rim broke as I turned into a 6th gear corner and I ended up cutting down a whole heap of trees down. But running 2nd to Bugowski wasn’t too bad; he won that rally two years in a row."

Although some of his rivals for the ARC title, in particular the Toyota pair of Neal Bates and Simon Evans, have recent experience at Targa Tasmania, Michael doesn’t think that will provide them any advantage. "…Targa is based around R-spec tyres, where you’ve got to conserve your tyres. But proper tarmac rallying is the same as gravel rallying where your throwing tyres at it and pushing as hard as you can."

"Targa is a different type of rallying where it’s more about conserving tyres and running clean stages. This is just ‘hell-for-leather’. So I’m not disadvantages in that respect. If anything, I’ve probably got the most experience of anyone in proper tarmac rallying."

Photo courtesy of Adding to his previous tarmac experience in Europe, his Pirtek Subaru is prepared by Les Walkden Rallying, no strangers to the tarmac rallying in Tasmania with two top-10 placings this year at Targa.

"We’ll definitely be tarmac testing; it’s an extremely important part of it. We’ll just be running my gravel-spec car in tarmac trim. And the good thing is that I’m coming from a good stable of cars that Les (Walkden) is running. So I’ve got no doubt that we can come up with a good setup to start with."

"The S2000 cars will be very fast on tarmac. But if it’s between 180-200km/h, then that will suit us. The S2000 cars are only good for around 175 km/h, so that will help us if it’s very high speed."

The Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge will be held near Burnie in northern Tasmania, on October 4 and 5.

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