John O’Dowd’s Rex in action. Image: CMR PHOTOGRAPHIC.
By ELISSA MACNEALL
PERTH, March 13: – WA rally stalwart JOHN O’DOWD makes his CAMS Australian Rally Championship east coast debut at this weekend’s Eureka Rally in Victoria.
The 50-year-old from Gooseberry Hill, who has competed in the Forest Rally – his home ARC event – for the past seven years, is excited about the prospect of mixing it with the county’s best drivers.
“It’s going to be a great experience to be a part of such a big field of talented competitors,” O’Dowd said.
Eureka Rally, which is the ARC season opener and the first rally to be based out of Ballarat in almost 50 years, has attracted a huge number of entrants including 2016 ARC title holder Molly Taylor from NSW, Victoria’s Eli Evans and the ACT’s Harry Bates.
O’Dowd and Maximum Motorsport team mate Brad Markovic are the only WA drivers on the entry list.
“Having Brad there is going to be a huge plus,” O’Dowd said. “He competed in the ARC last year and his experience and advice is going to be invaluable.”
O’Dowd is joined in his Subaru WRX STI by 33-year-old plumber Ken Sheil from Perth. Eureka Rally is their first pairing and he hopes they’ll gel straight away.
“He’s an Irish lad with quite a lot of experience in Europe, so I think we’ll go well together,” he said. They plan to compete in all rounds of the 2017 WA Rally Championship which opens with the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally, in the State’s south west, the weekend after Eureka Rally.
O’Dowd outlined his WARC season goal saying: “Our aim is to finish in the top spot this year.”
The transport business owner, who claimed four straight WARC Group N championships from 2011 to 2014, had mixed fortunes last season.
“It ended well, but the start wasn’t so great,” he said “The Subaru suffered an engine fire in the Busselton round which meant we didn’t get any points there. But we were very lucky that the car could be repaired for the next event.”
O’Dowd is supported during 2017 by Maximum Motorsport, Knightcorp Insurance, Pacific Finance, Truck Wholesale WA, O’Dowd Transport and Rent WA.
Eureka Rally fires up with a ceremonial start Friday before teams head out for Heat One Saturday. Heat Two is on Sunday, finishing that afternoon.
Further info: Elissa Macneall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0418 938 015.