Darren Agrela is the CAMS Western Australian Off Road Champion after finishing in the top five of the Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race.
Agrela trailed championship leader Matthew Birnie by just one point heading into the season finale, with Birnie needing to finish in the top end of the standings to hold onto his lead.
The two drivers had contrasting weekends, with everything going right for Agrela and everything going wrong for Birnie – starting with a DNF in the first section.
Birnie’s DNF in the section effectively shot his title chances, leaving all the pressure on Agrela to finish, which he did comfortably – crossing the line in fifth place and as the 2019 champion.
After many years in the sport and not coming anywhere close to championship contention, the 42-year-old was thrilled to finally end the season as the number one.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Agrela said.
“I started navigating when I was 14 and for me, this has to be one of the biggest results I have ever had. It’s a relief. We can tick it off our list now.
“I have never really raced for a championship. I just go out there and race as hard as I can and whatever happens, happens.
“I’ll be doing the same thing next year. Going in and just driving race by race and if I am there again, great. But the pressure is off now.
“I am really happy that we ended up as champions. It’s very exciting knowing I will be driving with the number one next year.”
While Agrela was definitely the main story to come out of the weekend, it was BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship regulars Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt who stole the show, dominating the field from start to finish.
In second place, almost six minutes behind was Harleigh Uren, while Pro Buggy Class winners Troy and Deborah Schoen took out the final step of the podium, more than minute ahead of the Brent Smoothy and Aaron James.
With Smoothy and James crossing the line less than one minute ahead of Agrela and Ryan Barton, there wasn’t much that split the top five as the outright champion drove cautiously throughout the whole event.
“After Matthew (Birnie) failed to finish in that first section, we only needed to finish the event, so we were focused on getting it right and not breaking the car,” Agrela added.
“We probably were a bit cautious with prologue as we just wanted to be in the top 10 by the end of the race. We could have gone even slower on the Sunday but it’s not in our blood to drive slow.
“It’s also where problems can happen. In previous rounds we had similar outcomes where a contender would DNF and we had just had to finish, but you tend to lose focus and make mistakes in these situations– we didn’t want to do that this time.
“Everyone was hassling me and joking around how slow I was going throughout the event, but for me, we had a bit of a crack and the car was perfect. Nothing was going wrong. It looked like it was going to be my weekend and it was. “