Tom Wilde has taken his first Heat victory in the Bosch Australian Rally Championship at his home event, the Quit Forest Rally.
The 24-year-old, who resides in the town of Nannup where the forest stages are based, took the lead of the Four-Wheel-Drive Championship from fellow West Australian Nicholas Box on the seventh stage of the Heat after Box suffered a puncture four kilometres from the end of the stage.
Wilde is looking to back up his round victory at Rally Calder earlier this month and is also faced with the challenge of becoming the first West Australian winner of the Quit Forest Rally since Rob Herridge in 1992.
“It feels amazing, we just did what we came out to do, the plan was to drive it safe and as fast as we could, and to come away with a Heat win is an awesome feeling,” said Wilde.
Speaking about the possibility of bringing the trophy back to Western Australia Wilde was excited but realistic, “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, it is a long day tomorrow, but it’s a possibility and I would really love to take the event win.”
Michael Boaden consistently put in strong stage times and finished second in the Heat with Box ending up third.
In the Bosch ARC Two-Wheel-Drive Championship Eli Evans took Heat One honours but it wasn’t as easy as the win would suggest.
“It’s a very tough event and it wasn’t all smooth sailing; we had a steering rack failure in the car this morning which the boys sorted out in the 30 minute service and after that we had a flat tyre on one of the stages and we got lucky again because it was only two kilometres from the end, which meant we only lost about 10-15 seconds,” said Evans.
“I’m having an absolute ball out there though, the (Honda) Jazz is such a great car to drive and hopefully we can carry this form into Heat Two tomorrow.”
Jack Monkhouse (Nissan Syliva S15) finished second in the heat and local seventeen-year-old Dylan King (Ford Escort) were third.
Neal Bates added another Quit Forest Rally Heat victory to their long list of event achievements, this time in the Classic Rally Challenge class. However, their Toyota Celica RA40 came into the final service of the day sounding rough with the service crew had to fix a broken exhaust suffered on SS8.
Running behind the cars are the crews contesting the Australian SidexSide Challenge, including former ARC drivers Michael Guest and Cody Crocker. Crocker (Polaris RZR XP 900) took the heat ahead of James Shipp (Polaris RZR XP 900 LE) in second and Guest (Can-Am Commander X) in third.
The battle in the Quit Forest Rally Moto was a battle between brothers Ben Grabham (KTM EXC) and Damien Grabham (Husaberg FE570). Ben Grabham won the day ahead of Damien with Robert Pollard (KTM 500EXC) in third.
Check out the video highlights of the opening heat