Subaru do Motorsport has finished second* in the 2017 CAMS Australian Rally Championship, after technical issues forced it out of Leg 3 of Kennards Hire Rally Australia, in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.
Despite the best efforts of the Les Walkden Rallying technical team – which worked late into Saturday night to try and repair damage incurred by a turbo failure yesterday afternoon – the Production Rally Car class All-Wheel Drive WRX STI failed to make it past the morning’s first control point, prematurely ending the final title tilt.
Reigning champions Molly Taylor and co-driver Bill Hayes had to watch from the sidelines as ARC class leader and Coffs Harbour local Nathan Quinn, in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, completed the day’s four stages – a fifth was cancelled due to the weather – provisionally securing enough points to overhaul Subaru do’s championship lead.
Heavy rain on the day’s first stage, SS17 Pilbara Reverse, made it something of a lottery.
In the end, Quinn emerged unscathed from the last leg to be provisionally crowned Australian Rally Champion.
There was some good news for Subaru do Motorsport too: Bill Hayes provisionally won the co-drivers championship for the second consecutive year.
The highly respected West Australian’s rally notation paid dividends as he occupied the Subaru do co-drivers seat in every 2017 ARC round.
Combined with the Subaru do duo’s podium successes during the season, it was pivotal in gaining co-driver honours, reflecting the pair’s consistency while some other leading competitors swapped co-drivers along the way.
Molly said: “It’s what we do in the tough times, not the good ones that define us.
“I’ve never been more proud of the work our team has put in over the past 24 hours to try and keep us in the rally.
“Obviously we’re completely heartbroken to not be able to make it to the stages today but Championship or no Championship, no one can take away what our team has achieved.
“It’s not a title we will remember, but the fact we put it all out there, every rally, and fought until the last possible moment.
“We won’t look back and say ‘what if.’ That’s worth more than anything else. These guys are my absolute heroes and we will come out the other side stronger and more hungry.”
*Subject to final confirmation by CAMS
KENNARDS HIRE RALLY AUSTRALIA LEG THREE RESULTS – ARC
Quinn/Searcy, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, 2:58:26.4
Clarke/Preston, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, 3:11:40.5, +13:14.1
O’Dowd/Shiel, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 3:18:02.0, +19:35.6