What an unreal spell from reigning Supercars champion Shane Van Gisbergen when he got his wish in rallying thanks to Team Red Bull. They supplied him with the Skoda Fabia R5 alongside co-driver Glen Weston, where he & Glen managed to finish runner-up in the opening round of the 2022 Australian Rally Championship. Although it’s a one-off effort since he’s got full-time Supercars duties to defend, Van Gisbergen was running in Top 3-4 all the time, especially towards the end of the rally yesterday on Day 2 with two-stage wins (SS12 & SS13) that includes the Power Stage finale.
In the end, though, you can’t underestimate the brilliance of the current Australian rally champions Harry Bates & his co-driver John McCarthy in the Toyota GR Yaris AP4 for his family-run team. They were too good to pull off the opening day with all the first seven stage wins that put them way upfront before Bates/McCarthy stayed ahead, which was enough to secure an easy win.
Apart from Harry Bates & SVG’s success stories, other competitors stood out throughout the opening round in Canberra. Good to see Brendan Reeves and Kate Catford round off the final podium spot in the Hyundai i20 RN. They started not bad on Day 1, but their late turnaround sets them for an improved Day 2 when ending H.Bates/McCarthy stranglehold with the Stage 8 win, which boosted their confidence.
Taylor Gill & Kim Bessell also had a great showing in 4th, where they also secured the NSW Rally class win in the Subaru WRX STi for Curiositi. And shoutout to Tom Clarke/Ryan Preston (White Wolf Ford Fiesta) & Timothy Wilkins/Jim Gleeson (Wilkins Mitsubishi Evo IX). These guys may have languished in and out of the Top 10 at the start, but a few other competitors’ DNFs given them progress as this rally goes on with a respective 5th & 6th finish.
It will be interesting to see who will challenge Bates & McCarthy up close with six rounds left of the 2022 ARC season, as this series moves over to the Forest Rally in WA on Saturday & Saturday, May 21-22.