Stilling to focus on second half of year after Canberra win

Trevor Stilling may have won the Trenching Systems Australia Classic ARC 2WD Classic Cup at this year’s Techworkz Automotive Rally of Canberra, however he believes his season won’t start until after May’s Forest Rally.

The New South Welshman claimed a clean sweep of stage wins in the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season opener in class, but is expected to miss the second round due to timing issues.

And with only four of the six rounds counting towards ARC Cups’ total point score, it makes each round after WA all the more important – especially with his main rivals expected to battle hard in the second round.

“It’s a bit disappointing that I can’t make it to Western Australia because it has been good to me in the past as I have won there before and have been on the podium  every time,” Stilling said.

“Knowing that I am not going, the Canberra result may become irrelevant now, which means I must win at least two rounds of the remaining four after Perth.

“Of course, Canberra was an important win, but deep down, it will serve mainly as a confidence booster as my season won’t truly start until Queensland. We just need to aim to win every round after. Time will tell.

“And the way we performed in Canberra gives every indication that we can get the job done.”

Understandably, the season opener has done Stilling’s confidence a world of good.

Right from the opening stage, Stilling was on point as he charged out to a commanding lead of more than one minute by the halfway point of the day.

And although their main rivals in Peter Dimmock and Paul Bennett managed to find some pace in the afternoon, getting extremely close to the class leader on multiple occasions, Stilling maintained his perfect record by winning the remaining stages – eventually pushing out the gap to more than a minute and a half.

Photos: CarsMosport

Not only did he enjoy a comfortable win in the end, but he also managed to do it with a new co-driver in Claire Buccini – who he had acquired just a week before the event.

“I think Canberra was a bit of a challenge because I changed co-drivers so late in the preparation,” Stilling explained.

“Jon (Thomson) unfortunately had to pull out, so I rang Claire a week before and she agreed to do it.

“I had never been in the car with her, but she did an amazing job, and it was probably one of the best recces I have ever done, which truly helped. So, a big thanks to her for stepping in at such short notice.

“I’d like to also thank High Country Automotive in Cooma and my great service crew for doing an amazing job.

“Growing up in Canberra, I knew Saturday was going to be cancelled, so when we eventually went out on Sunday, we had the mindset to get a big gap early, which is exactly what we did.

“The new MRF tyres are also as good as anything that we have ever had, so everything just worked out for the win.”

The second round of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, the Forest Rally, takes place in Western Australia on 17-19 May.