Pedder and Macneall strike first in dramatic Forest Rally

Saturday 18 May, 2024
Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia
Scott Pedder and Glenn Macneall have taken out top honours in Heat 1 of the 2024 Forest Rally after a dramatic first day of rallying in Western Australia.

With a strong field of more than 30 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) crews tackling the second round of the 2024 season, Pedder and Macneall ended up taking out maximum points on the opening day after beating Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey by 23 seconds.

Rounding out the top three were Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney, who were elevated to third at the end of the day after Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin were handed a two-minute penalty for using five soft tyres during the day – one more than the allowed allocation of four.

AE025576With less than 30 seconds separating the top two crews at the end of the day’s six stages, it was an entertaining affair that was essentially decided in the day’s first three stages.

A strong start from Pedder and Macneall saw them win the opening stage and take advantage of an uncharacteristic error from Harry Bates and Coral Taylor, when the reigning champions hit a hole and broke the suspension of their Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car.

Losing more than two minutes on the stage before being hit with a penalty of one and a half minutes for being late to the day’s second stage saw the Rally of Canberra winners more than three minutes off the pace.

AE015579Harry and Coral went on to win four of the day’s next five stages, however they couldn’t make up the big difference over the top three crews – eventually settling for fifth place.

Ahead of them, Pedder and Macneall enjoyed an entertaining scrap for the victory with both the Skoda Fabia R5 of Maguire and Brakey and the Toyota GR Yaris AP4 of Lewis and McLoughlin – the three crews switching stage positions within the top five throughout the day.

Maguire and Brakey did their best to reduce the gap on the leaders, but a strong performance from Pedder and Macneall on the final two stages helped them secure the Heat 1 Win.

“Very exciting. It’s good and has been a day of adventures, but that’s rallying – we just need to hang in there,” Pedder said.

“The pace is pretty good and we were being conservative, especially in that last stage, where we heard every single noise during the last nine kilometres.

“We are relieved with the win. We have the pace, GMAC (Macneall) did a great job, and the notes were perfect. The team did a really good job so thanks to Maximum Motorsport. It feels fantastic.

“I love this sport and it’s an addiction and I think I'm going to have it for the rest of my life.

“It’s a very different rally tomorrow. There is a road/stage that no one has used before. But we have four soft tyres that no one else has so we need to have a good sleep tonight, maybe eat some Spaghetti Bolognese and have a crack tomorrow.”

As for Lewis and McLoughlin, the 2022 ARC Champions finished the day in seventh place once the penalty was applied.

Ending the day ahead of Lewis and McLoughlin in fifth and sixth were West Australians Dylan King and Abbey Hayes and the Skoda Fabia Evo of Steve Maguire and Ben Searcy, while Jamie and Bradley Luff finished in eighth place respectively.

With Peter Rullo and James Marquet sneaking into ninth on the day’s final stage, rounding out the top 10 were Mainfix ARC Production Cup winners Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith, who beat rivals Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis by 10 seconds.

A challenging morning for Taylor and Sarandis saw the duo trailing Rando and Beckwith by one second at the midway point of the day, however a resounding fightback in the afternoon saw them take the lead on the fourth stage, only to be handed a second penalty ahead of the final stage for a late check in.

In the other Cups, Glenn Alcorn and Jonathan Charlesson comfortably won the Trenching Systems Australia 2WD Classic Cup by more than two minutes, Dave and Kelly Thomas secured the Heat win for the ARC 2WD Cup, and Carter Smith and Jade White won the Junior Cup after re-joining in the afternoon.
View the Heat’s full results via the Subaru Results Hub.

The 2024 Forest Rally resumes tomorrow with the timesheets resetting for Heat 2.

Awaiting crews are 76 competitive kilometres over five stages, including the Galvaniize Insurance Power Stage, with the action to begin at 9:13am AWST.
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