Irish star Richie Dalton and Jared Hudson have claimed a thrilling victory in the highly popular Lazer Rally of the Bay over the weekend, beating a number of high profile names in the process.
In partnership with Lazer High Performance Lighting, the event saw 51 crews spread across six different state championships compete for top honours across the weekend’s two events - the Bay Stages and Bay Ramble - hoping to earn some all-important points towards their respective championships along the way.
However, it was the former Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) podium getter in Dalton who took out a convincing outright win, beating current ARC stars Daniel Gonzalez and Daymon Nicoli by 55 seconds after the 10 stages.
Donning a livery dedicated to late Craig Breen, Dalton was consistent across the board as he finished in the top three in every stage, four of which he won.
Gonzalez also won four stages himself, but after not finishing in the top three until the event’s fourth stage, unfortunately the West Australian was forced to catch up from sixth and he fell just short of Dalton’s overall time of 1:45:08.8.
Despite a late resurgence from Gonzalez, Dalton never feared for the safety of his top spot as he went on to claim yet another victory in Batemans Bay.
“I think we controlled it quite well,” Dalton said.
“The first stage we lost a bit of time, but in the second stage, I stepped it up on Gonzalez pretty comfortably, and I beat him in the third stage as well.
“Then we had some steering issues on the next two stages, and we also lost a bit of time in the second last stage because we didn’t have enough lights for the night stages… but we had such a buffer at that stage, so I wasn’t worried.
“It’s four wins out of five attempts now, so I’m really happy with that. It was especially difficult this year… the lack of rain meant the roads were very dusty and very abrasive, so the car was moving around quite a lot… but it worked out well for us in the end.
“I just love the roads down there to be honest and the car is an unbelievable car. It’s such a pleasure to drive. And I’ve got a bit of experience now. Even though I’ve retired from the ARC, I’ve gotten faster and more confident.
“This weekend is probably the best I’ve ever driven. And I had a new co-driver, who is only 19-years-old, but will be out on the national scene a lot more in the next few years. It was great for him to experience Australian competition for the first time, and he did an unbelievable job.
“This rally was supposed to be a one off, but now that we’ve done so well, it’s going to be quite difficult not to look at the next event in Bathurst.”
Outside of the exciting back and forth fronting the competition were standout performances from Timothy Wilkins and co-driver Katie Giddins, who rounded out the podium with five top three finishes, including a win on the opening stage one that gave them the perfect start to the day.
Not so lucky were Riley Walters and co-driver Andrew Crowley, whose six top three finishes weren’t enough to see them crack the top three, after a mechanical retirement in stage three saw them miss stages four and five, which saw them out of the running.
In addition to Dalton’s overall event win, which also saw him claim the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship and Bay Stages component, the event saw a number of other crews enjoy some silverware.
Also picking up success in the Bay Stages were East Coast Classic Rally winners Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston, while the competitions in the Bay Rumble saw Neill Alexander and Ryan McKinnon win the NSW Clubman Rally Series by almost two and half minutes and Luke Jamieson seal a comfortable win in the Hyundai Rally Series alongside Will Jamieson.
View the full results here.
The next round of the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship will be the Bathurst Stages Rally in Bathurst on 23 September.