THE Valantines’ need for speed made them “top guns” on the Rally NSW circuit in 2016.
And, Michael and Erin’s brilliant year in their ex-works Datsun Stanza was highlighted at the organisation’s recent presentation night at the Atura Hotel Blacktown.
The father-daughter pairing for the Denman-based MV Solar Rally Team walked away with most of the spoils.
Michael took home the outright drive, RWD Cup driver and 210cc and over NSW Development Rally Series (DRS) champion driver awards, while Erin was named outright co-driver, RWD Cup co-driver and 210cc and over NSW DRS co-driver.
“We won several races throughout the year,” Valantine said.
“So, overall, I’m delighted with the outcome – you can’t get better than first.
“It’s a great feeling to be the champions of the state, too.
“I’ve been rallying since 1979, so it’s nice to know the hard work has paid off.”
The experienced campaigner also praised the efforts of his gifted offspring.
“Erin’s always been part of the crew,” Valantine said.
“However, this was her first time as navigator and she won her maiden series.
“I’ll admit, we had some hairy moments.
“But, Erin did a really good job.
“We worked up a strong combination.
“I have to thank my wife Lois for her understanding, too, especially when you consider the time and money I’ve invested into the sport.
“Then there’s the service crew – Dennis Valantine, Andrew Bacon, Kirk Bendall and Kerry Gilbert – and a host of others who provided invaluable support throughout the season.”
Valantine said the duo was now focused on the first round of the 2017 DRS, the Singleton Automotive Centre Caves Classic, at Jenolan on April 8.
“We’re keen to defend our crown,” he admitted.
“But, I don’t believe there’s any extra pressure on us [as the current champions].”
There are seven races scheduled on the 2017 DRS calendar, highlighting some of the best rally roads that regional NSW has to offer.
After Jenolan, competitors will venture to Clybucca, Cooma, Narooma, Bathurst, Myall Lakes and Ulladulla.
Results from the best five are counted for each registered competitor.