Mark Beard's Subaru RS Impreza.
Mark Beard's Subaru RS Impreza. Coffs Coast Advocate

Woopi ace geared to fly during rally race

MARK BEARD has come a long way since his days behind the wheel of a 1973 Datsun 1200 coupe.

This Saturday and Sunday, the Woolgoolga rally ace will pilot the Automotive Dealer Group/Woolgoolga Studio 8 green, black and white Subaru RS Impreza, with co-driver Mark Willard of Mittagong.

Among the local contingent, the pair aims to wave the flag high in the Daikin-Allied Air Conditioning Coffs Coast Rally.

After starting out by winning the New South Wales Novice Championship in the Datsun and finishing second in the NSW Clubman Rally Championship, Beard competed against turbo-charged cars and V8s and won another string of titles.

“We had a magnificent run with the old Datto which I still have today and this was definitely the stepping stone to being noticed by Subaru,” Beard said.

One of only fifteen drivers selected to drive for Subaru in the Subaru RS Impreza Challenge back in 2004, Beard then purchased a factory-built rally car

“The car is built to Group N specs and this is a standard engine gearbox and differentials with a roll cage, rally suspension and exhaust,” he said.

“Apart from that the car is as if you purchased it from the showroom floor.”

Beard spent 2004 learning the car and finished just outside the top ten.

But in 2005, he finished fifth, including a podium finish in the Melbourne round of the ARC.

Since then the Subaru Impreza has undergone extensive modifications and not without problems.

“We started out with Roy Goodman weaving his magic to modify the engine from scratch,” Beard explained.

“My Subaru RS Impreza is a 2.5-litre non-turbo-charged engine and nobody in Australia had built a race 2.5-litre engine, so Roy designed camshaft grinds and completed the porting and we went from a 130 horsepower to a staggering potential of 284 horsepower.

“We had to change the computer and wiring harness but ran out of time on the programming side so we have installed the standard engine and computer for this event.”

Chief service crew technician is Stephen Midiavaine and technicians Greg Moon and David Scott and ADG general manager David Perkins, complete the expert back-up team.

“The team are using this as a tester and to learn this pace-noted event,” Beard said.

“Co-driver Mark Willard has been a few years out of rallying but we have been mates for over 20 years and he's assisted in preparing my cars for some time.

“All of us will learn from this event with the goal of competing in all rounds of the ARC in 2009 and also competing against the best in the world in the World Rally Championship Round in Northern NSW in September.”

A promotion will be held in Coffs City Centre on Friday night where all cars will be on display, with drivers signing autographs.

From Saturday morning, engines will roar from the forestry roads around Urunga, Coffs and Woolgoolga.

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