Sean McAloon and Muireann Hayes have won the 2021 Kosciuszko Automotive Monaro Stages after what was a difficult event for many crews.
More than 40 entries took part in the 10-stage day/night rally with a number of RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) stars contesting the event.
Headlining the entry list were Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and Lewis Bates, Peter Dimmock and young gun Troy Dowel.
As he has over the past couple of years, Harry dominated the day to go fastest on his eight completed stages, beating brother Lewis and Dowel on every occasion – however neither driver were officially part of the event as they were using the last rally for the year as a pace notes shakedown ahead of 2022.
The biggest draw card out of the crews running in the official rally and among those who would be classified at the end of event was 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn.
Steering a 1970 Mazda RX7, Quinn got off to a strong start and won three of the opening four stages, while McAloon was in third place trailing stage three winners, Claude Marray and Lizzy Ferme.
The event was then flipped on its head in the fifth stage as Quinn failed to finish the stage, which elevated Murray and McAloon to first and second respectively.
Inspired by Quinn’s misfortunes, McAloon then found some luck of his own over the next couple of stages, finishing second in SS6 and then winning his only stage on SS7, which saw him slightly close the gap on Murray.
While Quinn ended up comfortably winning the remaining three stages after re-joining on SS6, all eyes were on the battle for the outright victory as Murray extended the gap to 24 seconds ahead of the two-night stages.
However, that’s as good as it got for the Datsun pilot as an impressive run on the penultimate stage for McAloon saw him claim the lead for the first time after beating Murray by 26 seconds.
McAloon then sealed the win when he steered his 1976 Ford Mk2 Escort to another second place behind Quinn, while Murray’s final set ended with disaster and he was more than two minutes slower.
Despite the setback, Murray and Ferme still picked up second place, while Quinn was ultimately classed as a non-finisher as a result of the SS5 DNF, promoting Michael and Tim Valentine in the 1982 Datsun Stanza to the final podium position.
Following from the event, McAloon was thrilled with the result but admitted he was quite lucky to take out the victory having had multiple issues of his own.
“It was good to win, but it wasn’t without problems,” McAloon said.
“We only had two clean stages throughout the event and something wrong happened on every other stage. Whether it was hitting the bank on stage four, nearly rolling the car, going in the wrong direction or having to slow down because of a glitch on Rallysafe, it was amazing that we won and it seems that we just had luck was on our side.
“To be honest, I had no idea where we were placed throughout the event as the area didn’t really have coverage, so it was quite a nice surprise when we ended up winning.
“It was a really good way to finish to the year. We didn’t win with overall stage times, we just kept plugging away and trying our best. It was only our second blind event so really happy to get a win.
“This certainly gives us a bit of confidence, especially since I prepared the car myself. We’re looking at doing the East Coast Classics next year and maybe an appearance at the Netier National Capital Rally.”