Three rounds into the 2017 CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship (WARC) and John O’Dowd has proven he’s one of the strongest drivers in the competition.
He and co-driver Ken Sheil were third fastest at the MRF Boddington Rally, south-east of Perth, at the weekend. Fresh from competing against some of the world’s best drivers at last weekend’s FIA Asia Pacific event, the National Capital Rally in Canberra, O’Dowd faced the best from WA at the Boddington event.
“There was some strong competition out there,” he said.
That competition included O’Dowd’s mentor, Maximum Motorsport team manager, Dean Herridge, who won the event.
“It was great to have him out there,” O’Dowd said. “For someone like Dean who’s been off the gravel for a while, to jump in the car and win a rally, it’s a true testament to his talent.”
The MRF Boddington Rally featured three twisty stages that were run twice and conditions were challenging. “It was really loose on the first run and, later in the day, we had a lot of dust to contend with,” O’Dowd said. “The rally was tough and I’m really pleased with how we did and how the car handled the terrain.”
O’Dowd’s Subaru WRX STI had been in the Maximum Motorsport workshop during the week having a new electronic differential controller fitted. “That fixed the electrical problem that we were having in Canberra,” he said. “It was a quick turnaround from the team and I’m grateful for that.”
While O’Dowd had one of his most competitive drives of the season so far, the only dampener was copping a penalty for an alleged check-in error on the first stage. He’s looking to appeal the one minute handicap that meant he dropped from third to fifth outright.
The next WARC event is the Make Smoking History Experts Cup, on Saturday, July 8 around Collie and the Wellington Dam.
Photo: Gemma Lucas