Newcastle teenager Taylor Gill has etched his name in the Australian Rally Championship record books.
At just 19 years of age, he became the youngest driver to capture the prestigious Production Cup after securing victory at the Coffs Coast Rally.
Backed by a strong weekend performance, the local speed demon held off Queensland-based Irishman Ronnie Bustard, over a 12-month battle, to snare the crown in his Subaru Impreza WRX.
“The team is super thrilled to be able to win the title,” Gill said.
“We began the year with the aim of learning.
“However, we surprised ourselves with our pace.
“It was great to overcome many issues [throughout the year] to bring the trophy home.”
The Production Cup is the second-tier category in Australian rallying – and has long been the breeding ground for the next generation of stars, with many previous winners going on to become national champions.
“To win a title previously won by Cody Crocker and Ed Ordynski, two of Australia’s greatest drivers, is something I’m incredibly proud of,” Gill said.
“I’m still lost for words to be honest.
“We’ve far exceeded our expectations for the season… and I cannot wipe the smile off my face.”
Gill’s championship success is tasted by not only him, but a whole team of people who have helped him in 2022, as well as previous years.
“Rallying is not an individual sport,” he said.
“There’s a driver and co-driver, but there are also mechanics, sponsors, supporters and other competitors who help throughout the course of the year.
“In the car, I’ve been blessed to have co-drivers that have assisted me along the way.
“Kim Bessell, at the beginning of the year, and Dan Brkic at the end both steered me in the right direction.
“So, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Knowing the pain and passion that goes into preparing a rally car, Gill is incredibly humbled by the support of sponsors and individuals, too.
All his vast team of service crew are volunteers, and each takes a great amount of pride in keeping his Subaru running all season.
“Rallying is an expensive and demanding sport,” Gill said.
“Having the support of businesses and people is essential in success, and I’m so glad to have a great team behind me.”
But, Gill’s thanks are to no-one more than his father, Dallas, whose passion has led the teen to where he is today.
“I can’t express my gratitude enough,” he said.
“Dad helped developed my passion to go rallying and made it all possible with opportunity and funding, so I’m forever in debt to him.”
Gill now turns his focus to 2023, where he’ll be unable to defend his crown, as he pursues his rallying dreams overseas.
In October, he won the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Star prize, giving him six fully-funded rallies in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 in countries across Europe.
He and co-driver Brkic will move overseas next March for the chance to obtain further triumphs in the Junior World Rally Championship.
For more sports stories:
- World Cup fever alive and well in Newcastle
- Cessnock pips Singleton in John Bull Shield nail-biter
- Newcastle footballers Johnston, Peters inducted into Hall of Champions
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