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The confusion and uncertainly surrounding who had won the 2016 Australian Rally Championship at Rally Australia resulted in a wave of social media outcry that was fuelled with emotion, but for the most part, short on substance.

Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes claimed their first Australian Rally Championship title. (Photo: Geoff Ridder)An excruciatingly tight battle across the three days of competition saw Simon Evans, Molly Taylor and Harry Bates all favourites to land the title at one time or another, with punctures playing a vital role.

But there can be only one winer, and that crown went fittingly to Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes.

It’s true that had Bates not punctured on the final day he would have been champion.

Had Simon Evans not punctured twice on day two, the title would have been his.

And if Mark Pedder hadn’t received a time penalty on the final day, Molly Taylor’s name wouldn’t be on the Possum Bourne Trophy as the 2016 champion.

While none of the above can’t be denied, and the final outcome will be rued by both Evans and Bates for years to come, it was simply the final act in a championship played out over five tough rounds.

Of the leading three drivers, only Molly Taylor finished every stage of every rally. And only Molly Taylor was able to steer her car through the forests of Australia without making contact with the scenery at one stage or another.

Simon Evans had costly accidents in Canberra and Queensland which ultimately cost him a fifth championship title. Harry Bates had similar misfortunes in Canberra and South Australia that cost him dearly.

Fans have taken to social media calling the decision to penalise Mark Pedder a joke, and bleating that it’s not fair that the fastest driver didn’t win the championship.

Yet Simon will be the first to admit that to finish first, first you have to finish, and that’s something Molly Taylor did faultlessly all year.

The age of the car or event penalties aside, Molly Taylor deserves her crown as the 2016 Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Champion.

- Peter Whitten

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