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When John Mitchell, from the New South Wales Central Coast, crossed the finish ramp at Coates Hire Rally Australia he didn’t realise the points situation at play, so it came as a surprise during the week when he was belatedly crowned the Australian 4WD National Rally Series Champion for 2013.
 
“We had no idea at the time, and if we had have known we probably would have had a few more drinks at the end of the rally!” laughed Mitchell.
 
With the best three out of four events contested counting towards the final points score Mitchell has enough of a buffer over nearest contenders Ritchie Dalton, Mick Harding and Mike Bailey to secure the title with one Round remaining.
 
“We’re all pretty happy with the result,” said Mitchell. “Based on the points even if we don’t score any at the final Round we still win the title by a couple of points.”
 
What makes the result even more remarkable is that Mitchell and co-driver Jo Cadman had been on the verge of withdrawing their entry for Rally Australia in the days leading up to the Coffs Harbour based event.
 
“We knew about a week out from the rally that the car would be finished but that we had no money left over for tyres or anything like that. So we looked at how guys like Jack Monkhouse and Brendan Reeves use Facebook to help raise funds with their supporters and even though we’re a lot older than those guys we thought we’d give it a go,” explained John.
 
“We couldn’t believe the support we got, and we’ve got to give huge thanks to Australian Wharf & Bridge and Gary’s Motorsport Tyres who made a massive contribution, as well to all the other supporters who helped us get to Rally Australia and in turn win the 4WD National title.”
 
Mitchell and Cadman proudly displayed the full list of supporters on the bonnet of their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, including one anonymous supporter who contributed $1,000 to the team.
 
“I don’t expect people to pay for us to go rallying, but if they enjoy helping us out then I really appreciate all their support,” Mitchell added. “The support we received was really a big surprise, it’s actually pretty overwhelming.”
 
Despite wrapping up the title Mitchell is determined to find a way to continue to raise funds to contest the final Round in the Championship at Rally Victoria in mid-November.
 
“We really want to get down to Rally Victoria, if nothing else than to show our service crew a good time for all the hard work and support they’ve put in throughout this year, and all the previous years.”
 
“We also want to support the 4WD series, I know guys like Ritchie Dalton and Mick Harding like beating us, or at least trying to beat us, so I’d really like to see what we can do to be at the final Round,” said Mitchell.
 
“We’ve done it tough over the years, this year was no exception, but we never give up!”

Photo: Peter Whitten

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