21 April 2011
FIRST ARC VICTORY FOR SMART MOTORSPORT
The Toyota Corolla team of Ryan Smart and John Allen has dominated the opening round of the 2011 Bosch Australian Rally Championship, taking victory in the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia.
Smart, a 29-year-old mechanic from Yandina on the Sunshine Coast, drove his Smart Motorsport Corolla to victory by around 30 seconds in each of the two heats.
It was his first victory at national level after being runner-up in last year's ARC and a past Queensland champion.
The WA event was the first rally to be run under the new unrestricted formula with the leading turbo cars not running turbo restrictors and developing up to 400 horsepower.
"We really had a trouble-free weekend, everything went perfectly and the car has finished without a scratch on it," Ryan said.
"It was not an easy rally by a long shot: the roads were very slippery and the unrestricted ARC cars are fast, especially in a straight line. We just did what we had to do."
After the first two tarmac Super Special Stages under lights in Busselton, it seemed that the Smart Motorsport Corolla might be chasing for the rest of the rally.
But as soon as they hit the dirt, Ryan was able to take the lead with a commanding performance in the dry and dusty conditions.
This was Ryan's first ARC event without sister Rebecca in the co-driver's seat, as she has moved to the UK to co-drive for Molly Taylor in the WRC Academy.
"John did a brilliant job this weekend. We are really working well in the car together. I also wish I could have shared this victory with my sister Rebecca as she has co-driven for me in pretty much every rally since we started in our Datsun 180B in 2007.
"Good luck to her and Molly in Sardinia in three weeks' time."
Ryan's teammates Simon and Margot Knowles finished 9th in their Otech Australia Corolla.
Ryan also paid tribute to his parents Ray and Vicki, Geoff Foreshaw Motorsport Services, Neal Bates Motorsport, Matt Whalley, Car Trailers by Chris and all supporters.
The next round of the Australian Rally Championship is Ryan's home event, the International Rally of Queensland, May 13-15.