ARC: Taylor makes history at National Capital Rally


Molly Taylor took her first overall win but it wasn’t all her way as Tony Sullins takes first heat win at the National Capital Rally…


Heat 1

At the end of another dramatic, action packed day in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship Tony Sullens has claimed his first ever Heat win, hold a hard charging Molly Taylor at bay by just two single seconds.

“Well that was a good day!” exclaimed Tony. “I think we’ve earnt a celebration tonight for our first Heat win. It’s been a day of drama, but we had a clean run. I know I’m not the fastest driver out there, however I’ve been much closer and today we proved that we can be on the pace when it’s required.”

The day started with the short blast through the 4.38km Settlement stage, utilizing much of yesterday’s ultra-fast Power Stage. Simon Evans grabbed an initial 0.1 second lead with the fastest time over both Eli and Sullens who tied on second.

The dramas were to begin unfolding on the second stage of the day, firstly with Richie Dalton who came to grief midway through the stage forcing a temporary stoppage. “We just clipped the inside of the bend, put it on its side and you can see the end result,” he said pointing to his stricken Mitsubishi resting on its bonnet upside down.

The light crash sparked a fire, forcing Tony Sullens and other drivers to stop to render assistance, leading to derived times being issued to those affected. The stage would get going again but Dalton will not be returning for Heat two.

Eli Evans was also quickly into trouble on the very same stage, the turbo intercooler pipe blowing free on his Citroen’s engine forcing him to limp on for over 25 kilometres.

“At first we didn’t know what it was, I thought it was electrical so we stopped and reset everything but it made no change so we realised it was something with the turbo. We worked on the basis that if we stopped to fix it we’d lose maybe three or four minutes, so we drove on,” said Eli.

“I was fuming!” Simon said simply, although admitting later that he’d rammed into Eli’s Citroen at the finish, and then pulled alongside and opened his Honda’s door into Eli’s.

The dramas for Eli and Simon allowed Molly Taylor to push into the lead, trailed by Sullens and Steve Mackenzie’s Ford Fiesta ST in third as crews arrived back into service at midday.

There was immediate concern for Molly’s service crew though when they removed the Renault Clio’s sump guard and oil poured out. “I didn’t even realise we had a problem and oil was pouring out everywhere!” exclaimed Molly, unfortunately she would receive 35-seconds in penalties for leaving service late.

“We really pushed on the second one, and buttoned off a bit on the third just to conserve a bit which was probably a silly thing but you live and learn,” said second placed Sullens.

While third placed Mackenzie was happy with a fairly drama free morning and a car that was proving far more on the pace than it had during Round One in Western Australia. “A bit untidy on the second stage, overall though very happy with how it’s all going,” he said.

Crews returned to the action after lunch with a repeat of all three of the morning’s stages. With the service park penalties applied Molly dropped from the lead to fourth, down 21.6 seconds to new leader Sullens, Mackenzie second, and now Adrian Coppin third.

It was all again to be turned on its head when Sullens lost time on the penultimate stage, allowing Steve Mackenzie to leap frog into the lead by 8.7 seconds before the Ford driver himself hit dramas.

“At the end of the stage we jacked the car up and the wheel stayed up in the arch,” said a down cast Mackenzie. With a broken strut he crawled through the final stage to drop down to fourth, over a minute off the pace.

That allowed Tony Sullens to once again resume the lead and hold onto it to claim the Heat win. “I’m so over the moon, it’s been a long time coming!” exclaimed Sullens at the end of day service. “We haven’t put a scratch on it, really been driving the wheels off it, the little Citroen just goes!”

Molly charged hard, grabbing the fastest stage time on SS6 to grab second and finish the Heat just two seconds off Sullens. “Of course on the one hand disappointed but on the other really happy to finish second. It’s been incredible for everyone, everyone had big issues and we’ve been first, then fifth, then second. It was crazy and we’re just happy to have made it through the day,” commented Taylor.

And Mackenzie’s slide allowed local driver Coppin to claim third. “The plan today was for Erin and I to have a clean run through the day and we pretty much managed to do that. We had a few little problems, a couple of flats and the diff started to go at the end there. Happy with third and looking forward to having a good day tomorrow.”

Young Harry Bates finished fifth on his ARC debut, while Rhys Pinter came home sixth on his return to the ARC.

Down the order though the drama continued to unfold. First Simon Evans noticed his Honda Jazz’s engine was overheating before it lost all compression and he ground to a halt with a blown power plant. “We’re certain the engine ingested a lot of dust trailing Eli this morning,” he said, confirming that he won’t be back tomorrow.

Then the younger Evans found his day over when he clouted a hidden rock in the road, snapping the front right suspension on his Citroen, which jammed the driveshaft into the oil sump causing an instant failure. “I knew straight away the afternoon was over,” Eli commented.

The rock was to also catch out Ashlea James, the Volkswagen driver snapping the suspension and forcing him to park side by side with Eli’s Citroen.

In the National 4WD series Mick Patton backed up his performances at the opening Round in Western Australia by claiming the Heat victory again today. In the end his trouble free day saw him come home almost forty-seconds up on second placed Justin Dowel.

“The cars just strong and tough and loves it! I think we took five out of six fastest stage times today, Bernie (Webb, co-driver) and I had a great time and we’ve taken the win,” said Patton.

On his Hyundai i20 prototype’s debut outing Dowel was more than happy with his runners up position. “The Hyundai’s been fast and apart from the clutch master cylinder falling off on the third stage. I’m still learning the car and while it’s a bit tentative on the downhill sections I’m getting to grips with it.”

Tasmanian Marcus Walkem continued his strong form from yesterday’s Power Stage to claim third after admitting he’d backed off to secure position. “We sort of came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth chasing the guys down in front. We had a split intercooler hose on the last stage and a half so that slowed us down,” he said.

Neal Bates completely dominated the day in the Classics, cruising home in his Toyota RA40 Celica to win by over three minutes ahead of fellow ACT local Brett Stephens’ Nissan Bluebird.

The battle of the day though went down to the wire between Clay Badenoch and Tony Quinn. Clay held third heading into the final stage until Quinn powered ahead in his BMW M3 to jump into the final podium position by just 0.6 seconds.

Michael Guest had held a significant lead in the Side-by-Side Rally Challenge in his brand new Can-Am Maverick until the drive belt snapped and he was forced to watch on as Cody Crocker cruised to victory in his Polaris.

“The signs are good for the new car, but yeah disappointing,” Guest said. “This sport is all swings and roundabouts. It’s our first run and we’ve already seen we have a good advantage.”


Heat 2

After surprising herself with a Heat victory at the last Round in Western Australia, Molly Taylor has exceed even her wildest dreams by claiming outright victory at the National Capital Rally in Canberra.

While a third place finish for Harry Bates left the debutant speechless, the son of four time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates putting in one of the most remarkable performances in recent memory by claiming a podium position on his ARC debut.

Citroen’s Tony Sullens, having claimed the Heat win yesterday, backed up with a solid performance today even with a loose bonnet, to wedge in between the two young guns.

In the 4WD National Series Justin Dowel had looked on course to secure a win today on the debut of his Hyundai i20 prototype, until two flat tyres on the very last stage dropped him out of contention.

That allowed Mick Patton, who put in an incredibly consistent drive throughout the weekend, to edge past for back-to-back Round wins even though the day today belonged to Tasmanian Marcus Walkem.

On roads that he knows like the back of his hand Neal Bates proved far too strong in the Classics, even after dropping time with no rear brakes earlier in the day, Clay Badenoch finishing second and Tony Quinn third.

And despite the dominance of Michael Guest’s new Can-Am Maverick, winner today by over two minutes, it was Cody Crocker who proved the most consistent to claim another Round win in his Polaris

All materials courtesy of ECBARC PR