Mark Young is the latest Cup winner to be confirmed as a Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) champion-elect, with the Tasmanian having claimed an unassailable lead in the White Wolf Constructions Production Co-Drivers Cup.
Calling the notes for Bodie Reading in 2023, Young has been instrumental in the youngster’s breakthrough ARC season – with both currently leading the Driver and Co-Driver Production Cups respectively.
Although there is no certainty as to whether the duo will attend next month’s Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra due to their big crash at the PowerPlay Adelaide Hills Rally, Young has done enough over the course of the year to build a big enough gap on the standings, while Reading will have to wait until his fate is determined after Canberra.
Sitting on 342 points, Young’s best four rounds have put him more than 130 points ahead of his closest co-driver rival in Cathy Hayes, and with a maximum of 100 points on offer in Canberra, Young cannot be beaten – regardless of whether he competes in the final round.
Starting off with a remarkable performance in Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston, the Tasmanians went on to score an outright fourth place on home soil, as well as the Production Cup victory in Heat 1 and second place to Steve Maguire and Stuart Benson in Heat 2.
A difficult run in their Make Smoking History Forest Rally debut didn’t derail their momentum though, as the duo finished the Cup in fourth place – Young keeping his Co-Driver Cup lead due to the likes of Dale Moscatt and Ben Searcy calling the notes from Maguire.
Another Heat victory and runner-up at Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland saw Young go further ahead over Moscatt, who had moved into second place thanks to a Heat win and runner-up finish of his own.
Maximum points in the season’s first endurance event, The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally, saw Young move to 392 points, while the absence of Moscatt saw Hayes move into second place on 162 points.
Ben and Cathy Hayes needed to have finished both Adelaide heats in second place or higher to reduce the gap to within 100 points and keep Cathy in contention for the title– however the husband-and-wife crew only netted an 11th and seventh – ending their hopes of double Cup honours.
The pair’s outstanding season did however secure them the ARC 2WD Cup, both confirmed as driver and co-driver 2WD Cup winners after Victoria.
As a result of the Adelaide results, Young was crowned champion with Maguire’s different co-drivers meaning no others could overtake his points tally – a feat that he was more than thrilled to achieve.
“I am ecstatic to have won the Production Cup Co-Driver title – it’s never something I thought I would achieve, which makes it all the more pleasing,” Young said.
“This season has been a massive learning experience for us and it has been very interesting to see how unique every round was – it’s very different to what we are used to.
“Both Bodie and I were in a bit of disbelief as to how well we came out of starting blocks – we genuinely thought we’d be in the mid-pack or thereabouts, but to be leading our home event outright after three stages, before finishing fourth overall was incredible.
“We seem to have carried that momentum into the rest of the season too, and it’s been very encouraging to see that our opening result wasn’t just because of hometown advantage – WA not suiting our car was a bit of a confidence hit, but we bounced back in Queensland.
“While there have been many highlights for this year – I must say the two major highlights have been the support of the community, as well as seeing Bodie’s coming-of-age season firsthand.
“As he continues to get faster, I have had to improve my note calling to keep up with him, which is something I have done – we have been growing at the same rate together and have both improved considerably this season.
“I would like to thank Bodie for the ride, as well as all his sponsors. Also Luff Motorsport for helping quite a bit in dealing with the car after Adelaide. Finally, the general support of the broader rally community has been amazing.”
As for the White Wolf Constructions Production Drivers’ Cup tally, the battle for honours is much closer as Maguire sits only 30 points behind Reading with their best four rounds considered.
It makes for an interesting climax to the season with Maguire needing nothing less than a Production Cup victory in order to take out the title – meaning if Reading does sit out the final round, he will be relying on someone else to beat Maguire or for his fellow Tasmanian to suffer a DNF.
If Reading can find a replacement vehicle for Canberra, a second place will see him win the title, even if Maguire wins, while a third place would see the two on equal points should Maguire take out Canberra.
The Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra takes place in and around the forests of Canberra on 17-19 November.