Tony Sullens believes his MTA Motorsport Australia New South Wales Rally Championship is one of his greatest career achievements after many years of hard work and failed attempts.
Having come so close in previous seasons, Sullens finally broke through for his maiden title victory behind the wheel of his Citroen alongside Kaylie Newell during what was a difficult season.
After an intense season finale in Canberra, the duo ultimately claimed the title over Mal Keough and Andrew Bennett thanks to another consistent performance in the Netier National Capital Rally, while Chris and Katie Giddins managed to secure third place after Tom Clarke and Rhys Llewellyn were unable to finish the event.
With a state championship the goal for much of his career, Sullens described the victory as one of his proudest moments.
“It’s one of those boxes I’ve never ticked, even though I’ve been rallying for a really long time, on and off,” Sullens said.
“The last few years I have been trying to go to every state championship and now I have finally managed to tick this box.
“I always thought I could do, it, but circumstances have meant that nothing has ever really aligned for me to be in that position.”
In achieving this victory alongside his co-driver Kaylie Newell, Sullens adds another major honour to his resume after victories at Targa Tasmania in 2007 and 2008.
His lack of experience in driving on tarmac surfaces, as well as wrestling with his two-wheel-drive car on the absolute limit are some of the obstacles he came across in his journey.
Additionally, with the way in which things have been this year, Sullens was driven to win by his own merits.
“I almost thought this was not possible to do and to have actually achieved this has been the result of good consistency more than anything else,” Sullens explained.
“I haven’t been outright fast; but I have been able to win stages and rallies and really mix it with my rivals in the past.
“This is something which has not been handed to me, I have really tried hard for this win that’s what I take the most out of this whole thing.”
The ability to win the state championship also came as a result of good teamwork with Newell, who had spent the season focused on improving herself.
The amount of homework she put in from behind the scenes played a monumental role in the duo’s historic win, including creating strategies to improve her ability moving forward.
“I was really happy for Kaylie because she’s only young and starting out,” Sullens added.
“She has grown, compared to when she started with me and has put so much effort to this, even more than me because I only have to drive the thing.
“I wanted to do it for her more than me because it’s her first gig in a big event, so she put in a lot of effort and really deserved it and from that point of view, I was really happy for her.”
The 2021 MTA Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship will start the way the 2020 season finished with the Netier National Capital Rally on 26-28 March.