Driving his Toyota Yaris AP4, Dalton was the class of the field in hot, rough and dusty conditions to claim his first state title.

Despite missing the opening round of the championship in March, the Irishman bounced back to win three of the final four rallies on the calendar to secure the title by 18 points.

Heading into the season finale, Dalton and co-driver, Dale Moscatt, were the team to catch, but a workplace injury just days before the rally put Dalton’s title aspirations in jeopardy.

In the lead-up to the rally, the Shamrock Haulage owner injured his back and the rotator cuff muscle in his left shoulder, leaving him in severe discomfort.

During the pre-event test and reconnaissance he needed constant massage and treatment from a chiropractor in order to ease the pain and discomfort.

It was a problem that would hamper him throughout the rally as well.

Nevertheless, he hit the stages with gusto and did enough over the rally’s nine stages to claim the title over Mitsubishi driver Tim Wilkins, and Riley Walters in a Subaru.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to win the NSW Rally Championship, and certainly one I didn’t think was possible after we missed the opening round,” Dalton said.

“As the championship progressed it appeared likely that I could perhaps win the title, so we pressed on with that goal.

“To be honest, with the injury that I suffered and the pressure of the championship hanging over my head, I didn’t drive that well in Canberra.

“It’s a rally I enjoy and the car was brilliant, but it was certainly a struggle.”

Richie Dalton launches his Yaris AP4 on the final stage in Canberra. Photo: Peter Whitten

It wasn’t until after the championship was won that Dalton could relax. The final three stages of the event counted only for the Australian Rally Championship, and on those dusty stages the Toyota driver was back to his regular form.

“Once the pressure was released, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and I felt instantly more comfortable,” he added.

It was a return of the form that saw Dalton and Moscatt finish third outright in last year’s national championship in their Toyota Yaris AP4.

Co-driver Moscatt only contested three of this year’s NSW Rally Championship events and finished second outright in the co-driver’s standings.

Dalton’s plans for the 2024 rally season are yet to be finalised.

Final results, 2024 NSW Rally Championship

  1. Richie Dalton, Toyota Yaris AP4 231 points
  2. Tim Wilkins, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 213 points
  3. Riley Walters, Subaru Impreza WRX 205 points
  4. Josh Redhead, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 179 points

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