Tassie Tarmac: Experience the Key

Image courtesy www.joelstrickland.com.auLWR Pirtek Rally Team driver, Michael Guest, will be calling on his World Rally Championship experience in this weekend’s Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge.

The Australian Rally Championship (ARC) ventures onto tarmac for the first time, and as one of only a few regular ARC drivers with experience on the black stuff, Guest is confident of finishing on the podium. The Lake Macquarie driver spent two years on the World Rally Championship in 1999 and 2000 and contested a number of tarmac rounds then.

The Burnie-based event is the fifth round of the national championship, with Guest currently lying in fifth place on the series points’ table. Round four, in South Australia, ended abruptly for the Subaru driver when he hit a tree, but he’s determined to bounce back this weekend.

Launceston’s Les Walkden Rallying team have built a new Subaru Impreza WRX STI for Guest, and while it was the biggest accident in his 20 year career, Guest says it won’t affect his confidence.

“Crashes have never dented my confidence in the past, so I don’t see any reason why this one will,” Guest said.

“The new car looks great – we’ll have a test session before the weekend, where we’ll mainly concentrate on tyres and suspension.”

With more grip and increased lateral forces when competing on tarmac, tuning the shock absorbers will play an important role in setting the car up for the two-day, 177km rally. Similarly, using Pirelli’s tarmac tyres will be new for the team.

While the new surface will be a challenge to all crews competing for ARC honours, Guest says that his previous experience will help, but he isn’t expecting an easy time of it.

“Having tested both a Group N Mitsubishi and a Super 2000 Fiat in Europe earlier this year, I know that the factory-backed Toyotas will take some catching.

“I drove the Fiat and the Mitsubishi on tarmac, and the Super 2000 car was much quicker than the Group N car – in the region of a half, to one second per kilometre faster,” he added.

“I’m expecting our Group N Subaru to be fast, but the Super 2000 Toyotas will be very hard to beat. They are lighter than our car, which means you can brake a lot later. On tarmac, it makes them an awesome package.

“But having said that, I’ll be pushing as hard as possible to stay in touch with them, and hope to be on the podium at the end of the event. Given that it’s the team’s home rally, that’s the aim.”

The Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge is based on the Apple Isle’s north-west coast and utilises many of the roads used for both Targa Tasmania and Rally Tasmania.

The rally covers 176.8 competitive kilometres and features 13 stages.

Source: www.leswalkdenrallying.com.au

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