It's been a whirlwind few weeks for Bendigo rally drivers Adrian Stratford and Kain Manning.
The pair secured a spot in the opening round of this weekend's Australian Rally Championship in Canberra after a successful victory at the Victorian Rally Championship at Mitta Mitta.
In recent days the pair have been hard at work at their Golden Square headquarters making last minute adjustments ahead of the pair's ARC debut.
"This was never really the plan," Stratford laughed.
"The plan was to do a few entry level rallies and have some fun, but within three years here we are."
Before their departure the pair were busily performing maintenance and testing their Ford Fiesta G2.
"We've been looking at all of the components, especially making sure the launch control is working at its best, in addition to testing the turbo after its recent rebuild," Stratford said.
With the car in top-form and complete trust in his experienced co-driver, Stratford is eager to get behind the wheel and do his best.
"If we are able to finish within the top-two in the 2WD category and outright top-10 we'll be over the moon," Stratford said.
"Speed alone I am sure we will see the top-15 and with a bit of luck hopefully we can move a bit further up."
The stages on the weekend will feature tight and twisty sections in addition to large open flowing stints which are sure to make for a tough rally.
"My biggest concern is all my competitors have done this particular rally recently," Stratford said.
"But as long as the confidence and commitment is there from myself we should do alright.
"That's where the speed comes from. Solid driving, confidence in the car and Kain's pace notes.
"If it's a blind corner or crest coming up and we're travelling at 150 km/h and he says 'don't lift', as a driver you just need trust him and hold it flat."
Manning has years of experience as both a driver and co-driver and to put it simply, he loves the speed of rallying.
Stratford, who met Manning through the Bendigo Car Club, originally reached out to him to gain some tips on the sport.
Manning joined Stratford for his first race, which was meant to be a once off, but their bond grew and have now completed several rallies together.
"We get along really well and above all we trust each other," Manning said.
"Adrian is definitely one of the better drivers I've been with and I have full confidence in his driving."
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