Queensland’s Mike Bailey is looking to press home his local knowledge when the East Coast Bullbars 4WD National Rally Series resumes at the International Rally of Queensland. Currently sitting second on the points table, and with the best three events counting towards the title this season, Bailey knows he needs a strong result.
“I think this is my eighth year in a row running in Queensland, and of course it’s my home rally so it’s always great to be able to put on a show for my friends and family,” Bailey explained.
“Last year at the rally was my best result ever, we finished second, but historically it’s a rally that hasn’t been that great for me. We’ve mostly had mechanical problems on what’s considered one of the toughest rallies of the season.”
Bailey will steer his regular Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 in the National 4WD category, however he’ll have to do it without his regular navigator.
“Unfortunately my co-driver Matt Harriott won’t be with me. He’s got work commitments that clash with that weekend, I think he’s a bit pissed to be honest,” Mike laughed. “I’ve been very lucky to have John Allen agree to sit in the silly seat.”
The demanding road conditions always play a part in the outright result in Queensland. Bailey though is anticipating that favorable weather in the months preceding the third Round of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship to play less of a starring role this year.
“The last few years the roads in Queensland have been very rough, mainly because of the rains and floods. This past year has been pretty dry though, no major rains, so I’m expecting the roads will be in pretty good condition.”
The National 4WD series pits Mitsubishi against Subaru, allowing State level competitors to easily step up to competing at Australian Championship level. Bailey is therefore expecting his challengers to come from both local and interstate competitors.
“It’ll be great to get some of the Southerners up to the rally and give them a bit of a dust up,” he joked. “We all missed the last Round in WA, so I’m expecting to pick up the battle we all started in Canberra.”
“I think the local 4WD competitors will be where the action is at though. The Queensland State guys always seem to come out with a point to prove. My aim in Queensland is to get as many points as I can, and have a good clean run, that’s really my focus going into the event.”
With the 4WD series being contested over the best of three Rounds this season, Bailey had planned to compete in Canberra, his home rally in Queensland and then the World Rally Championship Round in Coffs Harbour.
“I’m expecting the 4WD guys will resume the fight in Coffs Harbour later in the year. I hadn’t originally planned on going to Victoria, but I think it’s a must now to make sure that (my co-driver) Matt (Harriott) has a chance at the co-drivers title.”