Young Canberra rally champion, 21-year-old Chris Stilling, heads into his second rally at Cooma on the weekend having won the ACT Clubman, Development and novice awards in his first ever rally event as a driver at Narooma.
Stilling is one of rallying’s young guns battling for points in the final round of the ACT & NSW championship, clubman and development rally series. The Monaro Stages rally will be held this Saturday on shire and forest roads surrounding the Cooma region.
Stilling’s rivals for the NSW Development Series include James Dimmock who came second behind Stilling at Narooma also in his first event as a driver and Michael Stewart and Jack Mobbs who competed in previous rounds. It is shaping up as a battle between drivers Stilling and Dimmock in the classic 2WDs against Stewart and Mobbs in 4WD Subarus.
Chris Stilling will be driving the Manning Automotive Datsun Stanza and attributes his achievement in his first rally to skills passed on by his father, Australian Classic rally champion, Trevor Stilling who recently took out first 2WD place in the Adelaide Australian Rally Championship with Larisa Biggar. James Dimmock attributed his interest in the sport to his father Peter Dimmock who will also be competing in Cooma to contest the East Coast Classic series where he currently holds third place only 12 points behind Thomas Darmody and within striking distance of Robert Gorst.
When asked about his strategy for the Cooma rally Chris Stilling said, “My goal is to drive my own rally and get to the finish. I will be challenging myself and taking it as a big learning experience”
Chris Stilling will again be partnered by navigator Rae Waterhouse. ‘Rae keeps me on course, and she is a valued member of the team’, said Stilling.
While Stilling remains modest about his achievements in his first rally drive aboard the Datsun 2WD the more experienced drivers made comment that he did very well and finished ahead of one or two faster 4Wds. One of his sponsors, simply music management, commented ‘we decided to back Stilling at Cooma based on his eagerness to develop further and his demonstrated driving skills. He is a champion in the making’. Despite this only being his second rally as a driver Stilling has become one of the favorites for a top three finish in the Development and Clubman series events.
The Kosciusko Automotive Monaro stages rally commences at 9am on Saturday, 19 October adjacent to the Cooma Bowling Club carpark. Spectators can go to lightcarclub.org.au to download spectator instructions.