John O’Dowd has won the CAMS Western Australian State Rally Championship for the first time after finishing above title rival Stephen Oxley in the final round.
O’Dowd and Oxley had battled hard against each other all year, with O’Dowd heading into the Make Smoking History Experts Cup with a slight advantage of just 18 points and a title win desperately needed.
After missing out on the state championship on multiple occasions, a thrilled O’Dowd was relieved to finally break his dreaded ‘bridesmaid curse’.
“It’s awesome to finally get one and a major relief to be honest,” O’Dowd said.
“We have been runners-up on four occasions so to finally get one is excellent.
“It’s good for the team and the boys who put in all the hard work.
“I wasn’t really confident throughout the final round because Steve had kept us honest all year and he’s been going really well, so it was two horse race all the way to the end.”
The victory was anything but easy for a nervous O’Dowd, whose major focus was to just finish the event ahead of Oxley, however after a promising start, the drama for O’Dowd began to occur at the midway point.
“We hit a rock on the sixth stage which had done damage to the right hand front underneath and bent the bottom arm,” O’Dowd explained.
“The rock also took the heat shield off the exhaust which melted a few things.
“We managed to limp back to service and the Maximum Motorsport boys did a fantastic job getting us back on track.
“Things like that were constantly playing on my mind but you just have to get onto it and take every corner at a time and eventually we got through to the end which was the relief.”
O’Dowd ended up crossing the line in second place, 25 seconds behind Dylan King and Lee Tierney, the Natrad Malaga Subaru WRX STI pilots claiming all nine stages to win the round in style.
Unfortunately for Oxley, the rally ended in heartbreak as the WRX pilot suffered mechanical issues all weekend, ending any hope of surpassing O’Dowd for the title.
“I think Steve had some issues throughout the round and I felt for him,” O’Dowd added.
“But unfortunately that’s rallying, and that’s how it goes, so at this point, we were just happy to the cross the line and win the title.”
Following his maiden championship victory, O’Dowd now has plans to enter the final round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship in Coffs Harbour later on this year.