From the outside, the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship looks like a happy hunting ground for Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney, the pair securing their third consecutive Australian two-wheel-drive title at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
But ask Kaplan how he feels about their 2018 title win, and he describes it as “a massive relief”.
That may be because their latest title came at the expense of two rolled cars; the Nissan 370Z at the Adelaide Hills Rally in South Australia and the faithful Mazda RX7 at Rally Australia.
“Particularly the way we got it done, it’s a massive relief,” Kaplan said.
“We rolled on the second day and wrecked the car so to still win the championship was an enormous relief, we were very happy.”
With the Australian 2WD Championship fight going down the wire at Rally Australia, Kaplan and Penney’s incident in the Mazda RX7 on the second day could have proven costly, with rookie 2WD competitor Haowen Chu right on their tail.
“We still weren’t sure [we would win the championship] because we didn’t know if Haowen would be able to get back or not… we weren’t quite sure what the damage of his car was. If he was able to start the next day he would have beaten us,” Kaplan explained.
“So we were doing lots of calculations with points and strategy but fortunately for us and unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to get his car together.
“We were very relieved to know we could get there.”
Kaplan and Penney won their first two titles in the 1985 Mazda RX7 before debuting the Nissan 370Z at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Western Australia in April this year.
They enjoyed success in the 370Z at the National Capital Rally in Canberra and at Subaru Rally Tasmania, winning the 2WD class, before coming to grief in heat one in SA.
Unable to fix the Nissan in time for the final round at Coffs Harbour, the RX7 was brought out of retirement.
“We kind of cobbled that car together after we destroyed the Nissan so we had a lot of concerns about it and whether it would get through the week but my Crew Chief Adam [Tipping] did a great job,” Kaplan said.
At this stage, Kaplan is unsure what 2019 entails.
“At the end of the day we won it and that’s three in a row and we have kind of done the hatrick, so now we can kind of chill a little bit and be a bit more choosy in which rallies we do next year,” Kaplan added.
“We might even do some overseas stuff.”