AGED just 20, Wembley Downs rally co-driver Abbey Hayes and her boyfriend driver Dylan King (22) comprise the youngest team to win the WA Rally Championship.
“It probably wasn’t until the last event, I think it was going through its second-last stage when we were up by 54 seconds, that we realised that we could win,” Hayes told the Western Suburbs Weekly.
The University of WA commerce student navigates for her boyfriend by rapidly reading out pace notes while sitting in the passenger seat of a rally 4WD Subaru as it hurtles around South-West and Mundaring gravel roads at breakneck speeds.
Hayes first started rallying in 2014 and won the WA rookie championship with another driver.
But she was no novice, having grown up with the motorsport because her father is international rally competitor Bill Hayes.
She and Dylan, who was 16 when he started rallying a two-wheel-drive Ford Escort, used the last event of the WA championships in 2015, the Carrington’s Safari Rally, as preparation for 2016 competition in their newly upgraded car.
Their subsequent campaign included the car’s engine failing in the second stage of the Quit Forest Rally in April, after which their support team rebuilt the engine in four hours on the side of the road in Nannup, allowing the car to re-enter and get some points.
“Our team doesn’t see giving up as an option and it showed this year, and from rookie to State Championship in two years, it’s quite a big achievement,” Hayes said.
The pair won the later Karri Rally, withdrew from the Boddington event after a tyre came off, but won the next two rallies.
The decider was Carrington’s Safari Rally last month when, despite engine troubles and a puncture, the pair had another win.
“This is Dylan’s first outright 4WD Championship win and he is over the moon,” Hayes said.