Australian Rally Championship leader Brendan Reeves will wear a full-face helmet for the first time during this weekend’s Rally of Queensland.
The Wedderburn driver, who is hoping to extend his 34-point advantage in the series, adopted the safety measure after co-driving sister Rhianon Gelsomino suffered minor burns to her face in a Rally America event in May.
“Rhi was involved in an incident where their car caught fire, and wearing a full-face helmet helped to protect her from serious burns,” Reeves said.
“It’s for that reason that I’ve got a new lightweight Stilo helmet that felt really good during our test.
“I wore a full-face helmet when I was racing go-karts, and while they’re a bit hotter to wear, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly. The extra safety and peace of mind will be important, as well.”
The Mazda2 driver won the opening two rounds of the national championship, and a successful test session this week gave him confidence ahead of the Sunshine Coast event.
With Gelsomino recovered and sitting in the co-driver's seat, Reeves completed six runs of the 4.5km test stage on Wednesday, happy with the set-up of his front-wheel-drive rocket.
“The test stage was quite rough, and certainly rougher than we expect the rally to be,” Reeves said.
“The car felt really good from the first run, so we didn’t feel that doing more runs than necessary was going to prove beneficial at all.
“Because the car has been a lot more reliable this year than in 2013, we’ve already got some great data from previous events, so we come into this rally with everything working well.”
Other than setting the ride height higher for Queensland’s rougher roads, the Mazda2 will appear with similar specification as it did in the previous round in Western Australia.
The engine spec is the same, though a new exhaust system means the car will sound a little different, with a higher pitched exhaust note.
Despite his championship lead, Reeves knows that being consistent over the event’s two days will be critical in consolidating his position.
“Consistency is the key to scoring points,” he said. “This event can be a car breaker, and with 20 points on offer for each heat, and 40 points for the overall winner, getting to the finish on both days will be important.
“Of course we want to win both heats, but winning overall here is the key, and that’s what our aim will be.”
This year’s Rally of Queensland route is similar to last year’s, with 16 competitive stages and a total distance of 237km.
The Power Stage began on Friday in forests north of Brisbane, with the ceremonial start at Kings Beach in Caloundra that night.
Rally action gets under way on Saturday morning around Imbil and Kenilworth and continues until Sunday afternoon.