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Team News: 1 Round, 1 Win to go, RallySA

The final round of the Australian Rally Championships 4WD National Series, Scouts Rally South Australia is upon us and Mick and Bernie are on the cusp of being crowned the 4WD National Series Winners.

Lets look back at how the year has gone so far.

Continue reading Team News: 1 Round, 1 Win to go, RallySA

TEAM NEWS: Rally Australia Preview

With Rally Australia just around the corner lets look back to the 2014 round where the RRT had arguably the best result in the Polo up until that point, but at the same time riding the up and down roller coaster that was to follow.

The 2014 event was one of both the highest of highs and lowest of lows, from the highs of coming 2nd to then being excluded all in less than 24hrs, then having their position reinstated after an appeal process, it was a difficult time for the team and in particular team principal and driver Mick.

Q: It was well publicised about what happened last year, coming 2d then excluded then an appeal process and being reinstated, what were your throughs at the time? Looking back some people might say you learn from times like these, do you agree?
A: It was a massive disappointment after last years event, I really questioned why I do this sport, in saying that the question was quickly answered with an amazing amount of support from my family, the rally community and my peers. With a lot of hard work we got the outcome that was deserved. It made me realise how complex behind the scenes is and I actually appreciate it a lot more now.

Q: Now almost 12 months on how are you feeling coming in to the event after having quite alot of success in the first two rounds and now leading the championship?
A: After re assessing where the team and championship was heading we have enjoyed the success this year. A lot comes from an attitude change and working with a class outfit like RaceTorque.

Q: Justin Dowell and Mark Pedder are arguably the two competitors the team and you are competing against, Justin in his i20 and Mark in his Peugeot, both not having much seat time in their cars how do you think you will fair against them at Rally Australia where endurance is the key?
A: We only ever focus on our outcomes as that’s all we can control. JD and mark have been competing at this level for many years and have a lot of experience, this only makes me more determined to do well.

Q: With such a long break between rounds have you done any testing? have you made any changes to the car? or have you simply put rallying to the side till the week prior?
A: We have had day day in our Subaru, as the evo is in Perth being prepared after a rough IROQ. We have also been watching last years in-car and the Jemba footage supplied by the event this year.

Q: How do you think you will fair this year in a new car and with new stages?
A: Really looking forward to getting back in the evo for rally oz, the car is such a pleasure to drive. We have made a few small set up changes after reviewing the season so far.

Q: Is there any pressure on you to perform at a higher level to try and capitalise on your lead and try and extend your lead going in to the last round?
A: We will stick to our formula that has gotten us to this point, once your start thinking about the outcomes first then it make it harder to achieve your goals, it’s a very structured process for us. Have had a few small moments thinking about it, but with Bernie Webb you can never get ahead of yourself.

Q: Have you given much thought to the fact in 2 rounds and 2 months time you could be an Australian Rally Champion?
A: We will be giving it our best shot and if or when we win, it will be a big celebration.

Rally Australia officially gets underway on Thursday the 10th September with the official ceremonial start, make sure you are following the team on facebook, twitter and instagram for all the latest updates.

RALLY NEWS: RALLY DRIVE WINNER EXCLUSIVE – Adam Bensch

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In 2009 the Repco Rally Team’s very own Mick Patton entered a competition to win an all expenses rally drive at the Repco Rally Australia event the Australian round of the WRC.

The competition was called “The Big Bloody Rally Promotion”, Mick won the opportunity through his business Southern Automotive Service to go in to the main draw. 10 people from across Australia were drawn (2 from each state) from that main draw.

The 10 competition winners won a days driving at extremedriving.net, testing their abilities as rally drivers, from that day an eventual winner was chosen. Mick was the eventual winner, he went on to have 3 weekends of driver training and also helped prepare the car for the event, a Subaru WRX.

Mick went on to not only finish the event, but also came a credible 27th out of 45 competitors and 2nd in his class behind the winner and crazy Irishman Charlie Drake.

In 2015 Mick runs his own Rally Team in the Australian Rally Championship, his success and successful business dealings have seen him successfully secure the support of Repco since the original competition win over 6 years ago.

Now a possible new Mick Patton has emerged, Adam Bensch, 31 from Deniliquin has won a competition run by Coates Hire and Rally Australia, the β€œDrive of a Lifetime at Coates Hire Rally Australia”, a fully supported entry in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship, part of the Coates Hire Rally Australia world championship round on the Coffs Coast on 10-13 September. Adam will be driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII rally car run by driver training company RallySchool.

The prize will see Adam rubbing shoulders with WRC celebrities like SΓ©bastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, along with Australian Champions Neal Bates and Simon Evans, an experience like no other.

With such similar stories we thought we should speak to Adam and see how he is feeling just a week from the big event.

RRT: Hi Adam, thanks for taking the time out to chat to the RRT, how are you feeling just a week away from the big event?
AB: Hi RRT. Feeling great, its been pretty busy for the last 4 weeks, as you could imagine. I can’t wait to get the rally started.

RRT: Did you know that Mick Patton was in your shoes just a few years ago, and now he is running his own team and leading the 4WD Series of the ARC, have you looked at his presence in the ARC and not help but think you might be able to end up on a similar path with such an amazing opportunity?
AB: I knew of the name watching the ARC on TV but only recently found out that Mick had gone down the same path after he had got in contact with me. He has helped me on how to approach my first rally. I am definitely aiming to travel the same path as Mick but first I must finish!

RRT: Can you tell us what you have been doing to prepare for the rally?
AB: Quite a bit of fitness and I have been driving long distances a lot which i think will help me over the 3 days of competition. Also some rally games on the Playstation.

RRT: It was mentioned on rally.com.au that you will be writing notes as well, a task that even for the top tier guys is hard at times, how have you been preparing for that? watching in-car videos?
AB: Yeah very difficult thing on my first rally. Darren Masters(co driver) will be helping me with most of the notes. He is a top driver, as well as being a great navigator, so i am very lucky to have Darren teach and take charge. I have been watching a lot of in car footage which helped as well.

RRT: How has the town of Deniliquin taken to your news?
AB: Deni has been great, there is a lot of support here. It’s such a nice community and beautiful town. We have a great car club here with a fantastic autocross track and they have been behind me all the way.

RRT: Do you plan to use this as a stepping stone to joining the ARC? is it something you are keen to pursue? with so much good publicity has anyone approached you to sponsor you?
AB: Yeah definitely, hearing Mick Patton’s story has given me that extra confidence. The people in the rally community are very supportive always offering a lending hand, it has blown me away just how nice they have been to me. I haven’t had anyone approach me as yet. I will do my best, my focus is set on finishing the rally in a reasonable position and see what comes from that. The publicity is crazy! I haven’t had anything like this happen before so i am loving every minute of it.

RRT: With RallySchool supporting you and having some of the best drivers under their banner and many many years of experience under their belt what has Mick and the team been doing with you to prepare for this huge event?
AB: Mick and the team at rallyschool.com.au have been amazing. I have had 2 weekends at RallySchool in Melbourne. The instructors there are amazing, they are so talented. They instruct with so much enthusiasm. They have helped me massively with driving and pace notes. I highly recommend getting down there and having a go!

RRT: Have you been to RA before? or driven on the roads?
AB: No I haven’t been to Rally Australia before or driven on the roads! The stages look great. They look very fast.

RRT: Is their any rally history in the Bensch family?
AB: Yeah dad has had some success in rallying through the Nissan/Datsun car club in Melbourne. Mum and Dad both competed in autocross as well as motorkhana.

Now the important questions πŸ™‚

RRT: Where were you born?
AB: I was born in Melbourne, Box Hill

RRT: Occupation?
AB: Concreter and some engineering

RRT: Favourite Rally Car?
AB: The AUDI S1 or any of the Group B cars. Also the much loved Datsun 1600

RRT: Favourite Rally Driver?
AB: Australian driver has to be Simon Evans. International is Seb Loeb

RRT: Favourite international rally? (if you have watched any)
AB: Finland. I think this would be everyone’s favourite rally. To see a rally car tackle those roads the way they do is just amazing.

RRT: Favourite Rally Team website? *hint* hint* πŸ™‚
AB: (Laughs) The RRT website looks sharp with plenty of information on team members, cars and plenty more.

RRT: Lastly any shoutouts, anyone you wish to thank
AB: A big thank you to the family at RallySchool.com.au . Channel 10’s RPM show and Rally Australia. The repco rally team for the interview Also to the great people i have met so far. And i cant forget my beautiful wife sarah she has been amazing.

RRT: Where can fans follow your adventure?
AB: Fans can follow me on my facebook page adam bensch. I will be taking lots of pictures and video which will be fun. Thanks again guys

The RRT Website team wishes Adam all the best for Rally Australia, perhaps a star of the future.

Rally Australia officially gets underway on Thursday the 10th September with the official ceremonial start, make sure you are following the team on facebook, twitter and instagram for all the latest updates.

Image: Rally.com.au

ARC ECB Round 3 – International Rally of Queensland – 2015 – Gallery

ARC ECB Round 3 – International Rally of Queensland – 2015 – Gallery

ARC Rally NEWS: Patton Attributes Success To Clear Focus

The official Australian Rally Championship website recently interviewed Mick on his new found success and two from two wins in the Championship.

Having self-prepared and run his own cars previously, including the past two seasons at the wheel of a front drive Volkswagen Polo, Patton made the decision this season to have the experienced Race Torque operation take care of things both between and on rallies. And it’s a decision, he says, that’s transformed his mindset.

β€œI don’t even worry about things, the cars good and ready to go,” explained Patton of his fresh approach this year. β€œI know I have a great team behind me, a truck full of spares if required, and it means I can worry about the important stuff as a driver like getting out there and focusing on the stages.”

β€œIt’s made a huge difference! In the past I’d probably spend the night before a rally working on the car and hoping it’s right for tomorrow. Where as now I can work with Bernie (Webb, co-driver) on the pace notes and watching incar footage of the stages ahead.”

β€œI just love the Evo X, and I love working with Race Torque, it’s a winning combination. It’s the best decision I ever made with my rallying!” Mick added.

You can read the rest of the article on the Australian Rally Championship Website.

Be sure to check back over the next week as the team countdowns to the International Rally of Queensland.

ARC ECB Round 2 – National Capital Rally – 2015 – Gallery

National Capital Rally – 2015 – gallery

TEAM NEWS: Success at home for the Canberra Repco Rally Team

In what can only be described a fairytale start for the team, Mick and Bernie have successfully won their home rally, the National Capital Rally and thus capitalising on their win in Western Australia, QUIT Forest Rally last month.

A frosty Canberra morning greeted the team early on Saturday, however Mick and Bernie turned up the Heat quite quickly, claiming 4 of the 6 stages to hold a 39sec lead of Justin Dowel in his Hyundai i20 at the end of Heat 1.

RRT: What were the stages like during Heat 1, you took 4 from 6 stages, confidence must have been super high, do you like the canberra roads in particular the Kowen Forest?

Mick: Day 1 suited the car more, stages a Bit more open, I tend not to favour some roads over others as I generally like all roads I drive on.

RRT: Did you struggle with the car during Heat 2? you only took 2 stage wins, were you holding on to your lead and driving cautiously?

Mick: Heat 2 started slowly, I got up to speed after the morning stages. On SS11 in the afternoon we hit a large rock which slowed us down and we lost about 10 secs, my confidence was dented but I was still determined to gain back my rhythm, I managed to make a small change for the last stage and brought the car home without any incidence and held on to my lead.

RRT: 2 from 2, I know your confidence was high after winning WA, now to Win your home event with friends, family and colleagues there to cheer you on how does it feel? Teams were falling by the wayside, you won stages and showed real pace, what do you think is the contributing factor to your new found success?

Mick: It’s an amazing feeling to win a Rally Round first and foremost, but to win in front of people I live with or see and speak to daily, it is hard to put into words, over the moon perhaps.

Having a strong car and team behind me lets me concentrate on just driving, I rarely get much sleep during an event, I even managed about 7 hours sleep a night during the event. I’m a lot more relaxed and can just focus on the roads and notes.

RRT: The new car is clearly performing at its best, a small issue during the Power Stage but that’s it. Going in to the 3rd round is there anything you can improve on? we definitely saw the relaxed mick during the event, that is a definite catalyst to your success at the moment.

Mick: I’m not sure I can be any more relaxed at this stage, as far as improving, I need to commit more to the notes and visualize the road more, I tend to wait and see what’s over a crest or a brow then accelerate, I need to paint the picture with notes and drive it.

RRT: Now that you have two wins under your belt is it time to start pushing that little bit more to try and capitalise on your lead and make a run for the championship?

Mick: I’m not going to change a winning formula at this stage, I will stick to what I know, and what has always worked,

Mick and Bernie won 5 of the 12 stages on offer and came 2nd on 3 of the other 7 by less than 2 seconds, come the rally end the team held on to a 1min 13sec lead to win the National Capital Rally.

Round 3 of the Championship moves to the Sunshine Coast for the International Rally of Queensland, stay tuned to the RRT Website for a mid year review and image gallery from the National Capital Rally.

Be sure to check out our recent QUIT Forest Rally Gallery, as well as our Facebook page.

ARC NEWS: Round 1 – QUIT Forest Rally TV Coverage Part 2

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Make sure you tune in to Channel Ten this Sunday April 26th at 2pm for Part 2 of the Quit Forest Rally coverage of the Australian Rally Championship where Mick and Bernie took home the round win in the 2015 Australian 4WD Rally Series.
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