Warwick Rooklyn Rally of Melbourne preview

Sydney's Warwick Rooklyn has everything crossed for fine weather for this weekend's Rally of Melbourne, the final round of the Australian Rally Championship series. Rooklyn, a former professional race driver and yachtsman, is contesting the ARC...

Sydney's Warwick Rooklyn has everything crossed for fine weather for this weekend's Rally of Melbourne, the final round of the Australian Rally Championship series.

Rooklyn, a former professional race driver and yachtsman, is contesting the ARC for the first time this year and proving himself a force to be reckoned with.

With experienced co-driver Linda Long calling the pace notes, Rooklyn has been campaigning a Daihatsu Charade in the F2 division and has led the group on several occasions. Only mechanical problems have come between him and a podium finish - something he is keen to change this weekend.

"The F2 championship has already been won by Andrew Hannigan, who's also in a Charade, so I'm battling for second place. There are six of us in the running but I see my main rival as Brett Comber in another Charade. It should be full-on."

With his sailing and circuit racing background, Rooklyn is no stranger to going fast and getting wet, but he admits he prefers rallying in dry weather.

"When it's dry, I'm the quickest in the group, so if it's dry this weekend, I'm very confident we can do the job. If it's mildly damp, I'm still confident, but if it's wet, I'm not completely comfortable, because it requires such a different approach.

"Experience will help but at the moment it's all very new, still. In fact, it's such a wild sport, I honestly wonder some days why I'm doing it. If it' s wet, the winery where the rally finishes is looking like a pretty good place to spend the whole weekend!" Rooklyn says.

Rooklyn stopped racing cars in 1995 and went back to sailing. Early this year, the motorsport bug bit again and he contemplated running a Porsche in Nations Cup. However, a chance to jump in a car with former F2 rally ace Rick Bates changed everything: Rooklyn decided rallying looked like more fun.

"The crunch was whether I'd be quick enough, because I hadn't raced for five years and certainly never on dirt. When I found I was still fairly quick, I decided to have a go. It's not a life-long ambition. It wasn't even planned. Four weeks before I bought the car, I'd never seen a rally car before and then it happened. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and I'm really enjoying it."

The AussieDuct Rally of Melbourne is the fifth and final round of the 2001 driver's championship. It's made up of 183km of competition over two days, five stages each on Saturday and Sunday (September 1-2). The final stage is a 3.31km sprint among the vineyards at the De Bortoli Winery, in the Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne.

-WRR

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Rick Bates