West Kelowna rally car racer Mark Jennings-Bates is beginning what will be his busiest year of racing ever this weekend with a familiar stop on the Western Canada rally circuit.
Jennings-Bates will take part in the Cochrane Winter Rally in Cochrane, Alta., the opening event on the Western Canada Rally Championship.
By all accounts it should be one of the most competitive opening events in the past few years.
The front running team of Hardy Schmitke and John Hall is expected to be a force to be reckoned with while J.C. Bourgouis, fresh from his recent win in Kananaskis is not going to back down.
Onur Tezcan, another racer from B.C., is also expected to be very competitive in a new car.
Jennings-Bates however is convinced he can turn on the heat this year also.
“We were winning this event last year when we took a diversion off a 40 foot drop after a bad note,” said Jennings-Bates.
“The conditions look good for us this year.
“With some good fortune and hard work, we will be able to repeat last year’s pace without the detour before the finish.”
Jennings-Bates co-driver for this event will be Kelowna resident Jennifer Daly.
Daly has been busy helping organize another B.C. Rally event in May, the Targa Canada West in Nakusp.
It’s the beginning of what should be a momentous year for the adventurous Jennings-Bates, whose plans include an attempt in the Dakar Silk Way rally, where he will drive with UK team Bowler Off-road.
The Silk Way is a seven day rally race from Moscow to Sochi, Russia.
He will also be entering the Baja 1,000 on a motorbike with his Dakar co-driver, Mick Extance as well as working on his regular training regimen that includes half ironman races and mountain adventure races.
“It will be a busy year for sure, but at the end of the day, my objective is to raise as much awareness as possible for the Rally4Life Foundation and the work they are doing to save lives around the world,” said Jennings-Bates.
The Rally4Life Foundation works with athlete and adventure athletes to promote their fundraising efforts to help build orphanages and safe water projects around the world.
They are in the process of raising $4 million to save 200,000 lives with the provision of safe drinking water.