This was to be Berry Brothers Motorsport’s first rally in the ARC and a chance to qualify for the Rallyschool.com.au Australian Junior Challenge (RAJC) to run at Rally Australia in September. With months of preparation leading up to the event the Victorian team knew this was their best chance to qualify for the final and get the chance to win the title of 2011 RAJC Champion.
After a long 1700km drive from Melbourne to Caloundra the team arrived on Tuesday and started preparations for the event, with race and pre-event scrutineering on Thursday, and the first competitive stages on Friday night.
The event opened with the Caloundra Shootout, a 2.26km Special Stage set in Caloundra’s industrial park. This gave the public a chance to see the cars in action under lights and to meet the teams.
On Saturday competition moved out to the forest stages around Imbil. After taking multiple stage wins in the RAJC field at the end of Saturday the Berry Brothers were sitting in a close second place to Tristen Kent. A close encounter with a tree on the second stage of the day left the car looking worse for wear and missing its rear bumper. Mechanically the car was fine though and the pair continued on their pursuit of 1st place in the RAJC.
Saturday night brought the competition back to the Caloundra Shootout stage where front runner Tristen Kent pushed his luck too far and crashed his car leaving it unrepairable. Berry Brothers Motorsport had now moved into 1st position with Queensland competitor Luke page chasing them in second place.
Sunday saw the teams return to the forest for the final day of competition. Of the 92 entrants that started the rally over 30 had already retired. The challenge for the brothers was to stay ahead of Luke Page and secure the win. By the 3rd stage on Sunday Dane and Nathan had created and unbeatable lead in the RAJC field. With the only challenge left being the longest stage of the rally, the infamous Big Derrier, almost 35km of fast, technical and rough terrain through the forest, the pair had to hold it together and make it to the finish line. By the end of the stage the brothers had not only secured first place in the RAJC but also set the 5th fastest time outright against the entire ARC field.
Returning to the service park for the award ceremony, Dane and Nathan had earned 1st place RAJC and an outstanding 6th place in the outright ARC results. For a team to finish 6th in their first ARC event is an incredible effort and one that left many people pay attention to what the future holds for this young team.
The pair also received the Kumho Rising Star award, which is given to the RAJC team with the most outstanding performance. By taking 1st place Berry Brothers Motorsport have secured their place at the RAJC final to be held at Rally Australia in September, which is round 10 of the World Rally Championship. The team now move their focus to Scouts Rally SA in July.
Berry Brothers Motorsport would like to thank all its partners, Yarra Valley 4WD, Eastside Mitsubishi, Form a sign, Johnsons Performance Centre, Castrol & 99r Brake Pads.