Small class rally hero of the 1990s Brett Middleton has unveiled plans to contest the all-new Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) category in the Bosch Australian Rally Championship from 2012.
Middleton won Australian F2 titles with Daihatsu and Honda in the front-wheel-drive cars and has been off the fulltime scene for over 10 years. The attraction of the all-new ECB World’s Best Bullbars Australian SUV Rally Challenge has the Middleton Rally Team (MRT) in a buzz with a Subaru Forester turbo diesel the weapon of choice.
The MRT Performance Subaru Forester Turbo-diesel is scheduled to be tested for the first time in early January, ahead of the opening round of the 2012 Bosch Australian Rally Championship, the ECB Rally Calder on March 1-4.
“On paper the Subaru will be the car to beat in terms of power to weight ratio and the pedigree of the chassis and we are very excited at pioneering the Forester in the ECB SUV Rally Challenge,” said Middleton.
“We know there are other teams close to committing to an assault on the ECB SUV Rally Challenge and I hope our announcement will act as a catalyst for them.
“We will be using our involvement in the ECB SUV Rally Challenge to showcase MRT Performance’s capability and ideas for tuning and improving road going SUVs.”
CEO of the Bosch ARC, Scott Pedder has welcomed the announcement of MRT Performance’s entry and believes it will be the first of a number of teams committing to the SUV Challenge.
“It is really pleasing to have a team of the calibre and experience of MRT Performance and a former F2 Champion like Brett Middleton at the wheel of a turbo diesel Forester and it promises to be a really exciting prospect,” said Scott Pedder.
“There are some interesting vehicles being considered for the ECB Australian SUV Rally Challenge and this will only bolster interest in the SUV category.”
Australia will be the first country in the world to conduct a national rally series for Sport Utility Vehicles with the new class open to all vehicles specified as SUV by industry statisticians VFACTS/RVCS, either in two wheel drive or four wheel drive form and be no more than 10 years old (plus model run ons).
The new SUV Australian Rally Challenge will include turbo diesel or normally aspirated petrol vehicles with the rules formulated to keep the cars close to standard with only minor wheel, tyre, brake, suspension and exhaust modifications allowed along with the mandatory safety equipment.