Rocky driver rates recent rally as his 'numero uno'
RALLYING: Twelve months ago, Rockhampton's Clay Weston was watching the high-speed adventure of the World Rally Championship on television from the comfort of his lounge chair.
Two weeks ago, he was in the thick of the action, winding his way through the tight and twisting, fast and flowing roads around Coffs Harbour in the driver's seat of his trusty little Ford Fiesta R200.
Weston and co-driver Brendon Wrigley were competing in the final round of the Australian Rally Championship, which was run in conjunction with the final round of the WRC.
The combined events attracted a field of more than 60 drivers, including some of the leading international competitors.
After three days of racing in what Weston described as a "torturous event”, the local duo found themselves on the podium, having placed second outright in the two wheel drive category.
They also finished 13th overall in the ARC field.
Asked to rate the event in his racing career and Weston has no hesitation.
"Numero uno!” he exclaimed. "That's the number one driving experience of my life. It was just fantastic.
"I had no idea what position we had finished in. I deliberately chose not to look at the results; I didn't want to psyche myself out, I just wanted to drive my own race.
"I was there to compete and finish and it was a real surprise when I got called up to the podium.
"I was super surprised and it was just unbelievable to get up there. We sprayed the champagne and did everything you do when you win something.”
Weston and Wrigley have been competing together for three years and it's proven a winning combination.
As well as their celebrated second at Coffs, they also lay claim to two Queensland 2WD championships.
Much of their success can be attributed to Weston's measured approach to driving.
"The main thing in rallying is that if you crash you don't get anything,” the 52-year-old said.
"It's not bin it or win it, for me it's all about finishing. In fact, in the whole time I've been racing, I haven't once scratched the car.”
Weston said that competing in the WRC had long been on his bucket list and the motivation to tick it off came when he was watching the event last year.
"I remember sitting at home kicking myself that I wasn't doing it last year. This time I decided to bite the bullet and just do it,” he said.
"We got the team together and look at the results. We're all feeling a great sense of achievement.”
Weston was quick to pay tribute to those who made the dream a reality including his sponsors Wayne Menzies from Menzies Auto, Michael Wyatt of Fuchs Lubricants, Alan Barnes of Barnes Drilling and Captain Nemo's and the crew of John Stewart, Craig Jervis, Chris Seaman, Marco Jansen, Brian Brosnan and Canberra couple Peter and Dianne Taylor.
He now has his sights set on a new goal - to compete in the Targa Tasmania in 2018.
That will mean adapting to bitumen rather than the dirt roads with which he is now so familiar.
"It's all about the challenge for me. Racing in cars is all about challenging yourself to get it right every time. That's what I want to continue to do,” he said.