Bendigo driver Adrian Stratford knew anything was possible in the 2WD title chase heading into the final round of the 2021 Victorian Rally Championship.
He and co-driver Kain Manning trailed fellow Bendigo competitors Brendan Reeves and co-driver Kate Catford by 40 points on the overall 2WD standings.
But in true motorsport nature, it's not over until the finish line.
The battle was neck-and-neck after both Reeves and Stratford posted strong heat times during the early stages of the final round at Gippsland.
However, after Reeves endured mechanical issues late in the event, Stratford took advantage to secure the 2WD title.
"Considering the year we've had, which was riddled with mechanical failures, and to now come away with the championship is all pretty surreal," Stratford said.
"It's what we set out to achieve this year...a few months ago we thought maybe it wasn't possible, but luck was on our side."
After Reeves and Catford's Datsun broke down towards the end of stage seven after a fan belt failure - the door was now wide open for Stratford and Manning.
The win didn't come without its challenges for the pair as they had to nurse their car over the finish line.
The duo had to come up with a novel way of getting over the line after a crossmember bolt that attaches to the car's chassis broke and caused major concerns.
The answer was simple - a ratchet strap.
"We were holding on for dear life and very nervous as it could have sent us off into the bushes at 150 plus km/h if anything went wrong," Stratford said.
"It came down to a tricky balance of pushing as hard as possible while still keeping the car in one piece.
"To get on top by the end with the issues we faced was a great feeling."
Regardless of the last-minute mechanical issues which ended Reeves' quest for the title, he couldn't have been prouder of the effort throughout the year.
"It was a devastating way to end the event," he said.
"The car ran perfectly all day and to have something as minor as a fan belt end our rally was such bad luck.
"We both really enjoyed the event and it was great to see that the improvements we've been making to the Datsun are paying off.
"Kate did a great job again. It was the first time we had driven on pace notes for 12 months but we were really happy with the notes and that gave us the confidence to push hard in the afternoon."
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