Smarts without a car for Rally
YANDINA rally ace Ryan Smart is disappointed he won't be able to defend his International Rally of Queensland title but it's hoped he can return to the Australian rally scene next season.
Smart, 30, who won last year's version of the Sunshine Coast race en route to another second placing in the Australian Rally Championship, is without a car this season.
But he will be at this weekend's event as a driving official, alongside sister and co-driver Rebecca.
"We don't have a rally car of our own at the moment so we're running together to help the organisers to make sure the roads are clear for the rest of the crew," Rebecca said.
"We'll be in a rally car (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo provided by Rally School) still doing exactly the same stages, still writing pace notes, but we're not actually classed as a competitor.
"This is our home event and we both couldn't resist getting in a car for it."
Smart clinched second place in the series with Rebecca in 2010 and had last year's series all but won with John Allen until mechanical failure cost him victory on the last day of the final event.
Unfortunately, Smart Motorsports isn't able to compete in this year's series.
"Ryan recently sold the Corolla because all the rallying in Australia is heading towards two-wheel drive at the moment," Rebecca said.
"We haven't found a suitable front-wheel drive car but we're putting things into position and hopefully next year we'll be able to have enough sponsorship to have a car.
"We're also keeping an eye out for manufacturers which are planning to come back into the sport. We've heard a few rumours there will be more next year so we could get our hands on that.
"If we keep our thumb in the pie, so to speak, there will be something out there for us in the next 12 months."
For now, Ryan and Rebecca will be content to help out at this weekend's event.
"We are disappointed. We're both very competitive," Rebecca said. "But at the end of the day we like to give a bit back to the sport as well and if we're not able to compete then we're happy to help out."
Rebecca is back on Australian soil for only a few days before returning to the Netherlands, where she is competing in the Dutch Rally Championship alongside driver and boyfriend Timo Vandermarel.
The pair is leading the Nissan Championship class. Vandermarel is competing this weekend on the World Rally Championship circuit in Greece.
Rebecca, 30, said she would be eager to rejoin Ryan on the Australian circuit if they could get a ride next year.
"I would love to. To jump back in the car with Ryan would be the ultimate. We started rallying together and we'd like to finish it together," she said.