Ross Tapper hands over reigns of Forest Rally

After 30 years at the helm of the Forest Rally, Australia’s longest serving Clerk of Course Ross Tapper is handing over the reigns to John Gibbons from 2018.

Tapper will now step into the role of Make Smoking History Forest Rally Event Director; working alongside Gibbons to ensure all the good work that has been achieved will continue for many years to come.

He will also continue in his role as Clerk of Course at QUIT Targa West and Targa South West, and as Chairman of the WA Rally Advisory Panel.

After starting in the sport as a competitor, Tapper stepped into the Clerk of Course position in 1988 and has worked tirelessly alongside the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS), competitors, officials, local government and other sponsors to build the Forest Rally into the event it is today.

“John is younger, smarter, very keen to learn and loves his rallying. I ask that everyone supports John and thank him for jumping in the deep end to take on the role,” Tapper said.

“As a sport we have a big challenge ahead of us with the over 60’s age group running out of years. If we don’t train up a new team, not just a Clerk of Course, but every other role we will have let the sport down. I am sure the new generation will have ideas on how rallies should be run, so we need to train them in the basics and then allow them to come up with their own ideas, I for one look forward to seeing where John can take this event,” he continued.

Rallying legend and Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Coral Taylor paid tribute to Tapper and all he has done for the sport today.

“I always think about Ross as the person that does more for rallying in this country than anyone else I know. He’s very unique, very dedicated and is very competitor friendly,” Taylor said.

“The Forest Rally stands right at the top of all the events in Australia; just the standard of organisation, the team of officials he has built around him and the relationships he has with the local community, which allow him to put on stages like the Busselton Super Special Stage, are second to none and well above anything else we have in this country,” Taylor continued.

John Gibbons has been involved in the local WA motorsport community for the last 13 years and for the past five has been working alongside Ross at both the Forest Rally and QUIT Targa West and other local events learning the ropes across all aspects of the events.

“From roles in rally headquarters to being out in the forest in course cars, working with the media teams, service park crews and road closures, I have been spending time gaining insight into all aspects of the event and learning from not only Ross but the team of officials he has in place,” Gibbons said.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity Ross has given me and look forward to working alongside him, to further secure the Forest Rally’s status as one of the premier events on the Australian Rally Championship calendar,” he said.

“The Forest Rally continues to showcase the very best of what Western Australian rallying has to offer and Ross has been integral to the success of this event and the growth of rallying in the WA state and on behalf of all the officials and competitors I would like to thank him for the incredible job he has done over the last 30 years” Gibbons added.

CAMS CEO Eugene Arocca thanked Tapper for all his hard work and dedication, to not only the Forest Rally but Australian motorsport in general.

“On behalf of everyone here at CAMS I would like to congratulate Ross for 30 years of outstanding service as a Clerk of Course of the Forest Rally. His hard work and dedication is reflected in the event and has seen it grow from a State Championship round to one of the more exciting rounds of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship,” Arocca said.

“Even though we honour his long history with the Forest Rally, more importantly Ross has been an outstanding contributor to the rally industry and over many, many years, and I thank him for the enormous contribution he has made to motorsport generally in Australia,” he added.