JJ targets top five at National Capital Rally

Sydney speedster JJ Hatton has his eyes firmly on a top five finish when he gets his 2021 rallying program underway this weekend.

Hatton will drive his Hyundai i20 at the two-day National Capital Rally in Canberra, the first round of the Australian Rally Championship.

He’ll have to get used to a new co-driver though, as a change in date for the event has put regular note caller Nathan Long out of action.

For Canberra, he’ll be reunited with Queenslander Jon Allen.

“We’re getting the band back together again,” laughed Hatton.

“Jon has promised things will be pretty loose in Canberra, so it’s going to be great fun!”

On a more serious note, Hatton recently completed a full day of testing in the Hyundai in Victoria, and is more than happy with the performance of the car.

“The improvements need to come from me, not the car,” he admitted.

“I need to try to drive cleaner and straighter, which is not really my style.

“My focus will be on getting the corner entry and exit speed right, rather than just throwing the car into the corners and making it look good for the spectators.”

That’s a challenge easier said than done, however, particularly when pushing hard and trying to match the times of the leading crews.

Hatton believes a top result is possible though, on an event that is typically a survival of the fittest.

“We’re definitely aiming for a top five finish, but Canberra is a very unforgiving event and you need to first ensure you get to the finish,” he said.

“It’s a rally where you need to stay in the middle of the road and stay out of trouble, and if you do that, then you’re on the right track.”

The Irish-based Hatton finished sixth in last year’s National Capital Rally, so goes into this year’s rally in good form, and with a good recent history in Canberra.

ARC crews will tackle 162.89 competitive kilometres across 14 special stages this weekend.