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New South Welshman Trevor Stilling was the run-away winner of 2017 Australian Classic Rally Challenge in his Datsun Stanza. Stilling put in the hard yards early, bagging good points at the first three rounds of the Australian Rally Championship to build what turned out to be an unassailable lead. And just as well. Stilling had intended to compete at Lightforce Rally SA but when that didn’t eventuate, he had to hope that his points-lead was big enough for him to hold on for the title. Stilling finished the year with a win and two thirds in class, third behind the two Ford Escorts of Grant Walker and Luke Sytema at Eureka Rally and third at National Capital Rally after an off in the slippery conditions on day-two relegated the Stanza from first to third. It was at Forest Rally in Western Australian where stilling dominated, taking a clean sweep of both heats. Stilling bought the Datsun Stanza about 10 years ago as a club-spec rally car and built it up from there.
“I grew up in Canberra and I had done the rally in Canberra a number of times but I’d only done the Victorian round of the ARC in about 2012,” Stilling explained.
“I’d always wanted to do the whole series but time, kids, money had always made it difficult. This year I was changing jobs and I took the opportunity.
“I really wanted to capitalise at the National Capital Rally, I could have wrapped up the championship there but we slipped off the road on Sunday morning, it wasn’t to be.”
With co-driver duties in the Stanza shared between Lisa Dunkerton (Eureka Rally), Cindy Gielingh-Jones (Forest Rally) and Rhys Llewellyn (National Capital Rally), the 2017 Australian Classic Rally Challenge co-driver title went to Tony Brandon. Brandon co-drove with second-placed Brett Stephens in the Datsun Bluebird, the pair competing at National Capital Rally and Rally Australia where they had a first and second in class respectively. It was a great comeback by Stephens and Brandon this year after they destroyed their previous Bluebird at Rally Australia last year on the Wedding Bells stage.
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