The emergence of a number of teenagers at the Rally of the Bay has highlighted the good place that Australian rallying is in, with talent wherever you looked.
Right through the field there were young guys producing incredibly fast stage times, from rally winner Harry Bates (25) through to another son of an ARC winner, Troy Dowel (18).
Age is no barrier in rallying, and one of the joys of the sport is that a teenager can compete against a 70 year old, and on a level playing field.
One of the drives of the rally came from the youngest driver in the field, 16-year old Newcastle school student, Taylor Gill.
In just his first rally, and still driving on L-plates, Taylor took to rallying like a duck to water.
He was an incredible 12th outright on his very first stage, took 9th quickest on the marathon 45km long 'Run to Mogo' test, and eventually brought his Subaru home in 12th place.
It was a gob-smacking performance that defied his years.
16-year old Taylor Gill finished an impressive 12th outright.
Not much further down the field, fellow teenager, Riley Walters, was also punching well above his age bracket.
Also in a Subaru Impreza WRX, Walters was running well inside the top 15 as well until last stage throttle sensor problems relegated him to 26th place. But he'd well and truly made his mark.
After five stages Gill, Walters and Troy Dowel were in 12th, 13th and 14th places amidst one of the strongest fields Australian rallying has seen for years.
Still undergoing treatment for leukaemia, Dowel looked impressive in only his third rally.
A transmission failure cut Troy Dowel's rally short, but not before he impressed. Photo: Peter Whitten
A transfer case failure eventually cut his rally short, but like his teenage rivals, he too had shown where the future of the sport lies.
Higher up the leaderboard, the Bates brothers, Harry and Lewis – 25 and 23 respectively – finished first and second, while another 23-year old, Arron Windus, had been third until an accident on the event's fourth stage.
Experience in rallying still counts for plenty, but with so much young, natural talent coming up through the ranks, it's clear to see that rallying is in a good place.
The future looks bright.
I've also overlooked young Queenslanders Ryan Williams and Brad Jones who also had a fantastic drive at the Bay, finishing third outright in the two-wheel drive class.
They also won their class by three minutes and 40 seconds, on their way to 15th outright in their Mitsubishi mirage – a tremendous drive!
Ryan Williams took a top 15 result in his Mirage - another sterling drive from a young driver. Photo: Peter Whitten
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