Car # 21 Final Placing: 14th Overall
AW Rally Team
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Leg One: Warmbold had an excellent start to the Rally Australia, his first time competing 'Down Under'. "We started carefully this morning and admittedly lost a little time because I was taking it cautiously and it was difficult to find traction in the conditions. It also took us a little time to get used to our pace notes, and in the long stage today, we perhaps called them a little early which meant I lost my concentration and rhythm and it took me a while to get that back," Opting for a softer suspension and a different diff setup at the third service of the day made a lot of difference to their performance. "Our times on the last two stages were good, I was pleased with them. We were closer to the Hyundais and Toni Gardemeister so that's an improvement for us. Today was a good day for me, the car worked very well. I think that we now have a good setup and we might make some slight changes in service tonight but nothing special. I'm happy, everything's getting better with every rally we do." The duo finished Leg One lying 15th overall, the leading private entry behind the manufacturer supported teams.
Leg Two: Taking no unnecessary risks, Warmbold settled into a good rhythm in his Ford Focus and began to enjoy the challenging Australia stages. "The last 4 stages today were clean, so we improved by a second a kilometre. I'm driving with no risk at all and like this we are 2 second a km slower than the likes of McRae. I guess that it means that 1 second is the driver and 1 second is the car. I don't want to take any risks this year. I just want to finish the event in a reasonable position and come back next year and build on our experiences this time," Warmbold was philosophical about running first on the road for Leg Two using the clean run at the stages to learn more about the car. "We're learning a lot about how to go faster and safer. Running first on the road has been ok for today - I don't really care about that to be honest - it's a good experience for me. The stages were very slippery this morning and it was like driving on tarmac sometimes. The braking can be really late here, but the grip levels are changing all the time. The surface out there seems to be on and off a clay surface and a gravel surface. It was much easier the second time through this afternoon - we didn't have so many surprises!" The duo remained at the top of the private entries at the end of Leg Two, so with no retirements in the top cars they remained 15th overall.
Leg Three: A delighted Warmbold crossed the finish line in 14th overall after an excellent Rally Australia. "I'm really pleased with the result. To finish this event and gain all that experience on the stages is fantastic for Gemma and I. We have a good setup now and we've found out how to keep the back of the car under control so that we're not losing so much time." Warmbold praised the performance of his Ford Focus which needed little doing to it all weekend. "The only changes we've made have been slight adjustments to the suspension and diffs and it's amazing what confidence that's given me in the car in these conditions. Today we've gone stiffer at the front and softer at the back so now when we exit a corner, the wheels are straight! We were much closer to Gardemeister today and we've basically continued at the same pace since after stage 2 on Friday morning. It's been a great weekend and I'm delighted to be the first private entry across the finish line!" he said. Warmbold's next outing in his Ford Focus will be the Rallye de France in Corsica, 16-19 October.
Car # 23 Final Placing: DNF
Best Racing Team
Driver: Balasz Benik
Co Driver: Bence Racz
Vehicle: X493 YOO (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
Leg One: After a positive recce and a good start to the event, Benik's luck was not to hold and he joined the Rally Australia retirement list just one kilometre into SS3. The young Hungarian beached his Ford Focus on a large rock after sliding one metre off the road and was unable to continue. "I am very disappointed that our rally is over so soon. Anyone who has competed here before has talked about the road surface being like ball bearings to drive on and it is impossible to describe how this feels when you are at full rally speed. It is so slippery that even the slightest mistake can end your rally, which is unfortunately what happened to us this morning. It was like driving on glass and we were taking it much easier in an attempt to try and understand the surface better, but unfortunately we slid wide on a corner and there was absolutely nothing we could do but wait for the car to come to a standstill," he said. Whilst undamaged, the car was balanced on a large rock with all four wheels off the ground and the duo was unable to get it back on the road to continue. Benik and Racz, who are currently leading the Hungarian Championship in their Ford Focus WRC02, are now concentrating on their home championship where there are just two events remaining on the calendar.