MEDIA RELEASE: While there will be Ford’s fighting it out at the very front of the field at Coates Hire Rally Australia, there will also be an even fiercer battle occurring down the back between the R2-spec Fiesta’s of Rhys Pinter and Stephen Raymond.
“I can’t wait to compare myself against Stephen,” said Pinter. “He’s a former Victorian State Champion and while he apparently hasn’t had too much time behind the wheel of his Fiesta he obviously has the speed to do very well.”
For Stephen Raymond, who will be joined in the car by former Australian Rally Championship regular and younger brother Glen, more than a year spent building up his Fiesta will culminate when he takes the start line at Rally Australia.
“We bought the car last March, it had a roll cage and the engine had been built, but that was it. So it’s taken some time to get to this point but we built everything ourselves, so it’s basically a brand new car,” explained Raymond, who claimed the Victorian Championship back in 2012.
“So far I’ve probably driven a total of twenty kilometres behind the wheel. So in terms of experience in the car Rhys definitely has the advantage,” Stephen added.
For Pinter it’s been a hard fight to make the start line at Rally Australia after heavily damaging his Fiesta at the start of last season. “13km into the first stage of the first event of last year we crashed. I wanted to enter Rally Oz last year but the budget and car repairs made it impossible.”
“I’ve done four events so far this year, so everything is going much smoother compared to last year. We managed to finished fifth outright at the National Capital Rally this year and even won the Kumho Tyre Spirit of the Rally Award,” Pinter continued.
Both drivers start the local Round of the World Rally Championship at the rear of the field, but both are determined to fight their way up the order.
“I don’t think I’ll be giving (Sebastien) Ogier anything to worry about,” laughed Raymond. “But I think we can do well and I’m determined to win our class so I can take a World Rally Championship trophy home!”
“It’s funny actually, for so many years in Club or State rallying I’ve probably never started lower than third on the road, at Rally Australia I get to start last,” Raymond added with a chuckle.
Pinter is importing a secret weapon in his efforts to get the upper hand on his Fiesta rival, British navigator Phil Hall. “Phil’s a young guy but he’s a navigator going places, plus he has loads of experience in these cars in the UK. I’m hoping that his experience alone will help me improve my stages times by a couple of seconds a kilometre,” Rhys said.
But both are just hoping to reach the finish line on what undoubtedly can become a test of endurance and persistence. “My expectation is to have a good, clean run and reach the finish,” admitted Pinter.
Raymond agreed. “With so little time in the car I’ve just got to take it slow and steady!”
Both will get their chance once the action kicks off on Thursday 10th September in Coffs Harbour with the pre-event Rally Show and ceremonial start.