DON'T even mention the words "mechanical failure" to Yandina's Ryan Smart.
The 30-year-old owner and driver for Smart Motorsports is on the cusp of his first Australian Rally Championship win despite less than stellar performances in the previous two rounds due to auto malfunctions.
Smart and his co-driver John Allen head into the fifth and final round on the 2011 calendar, Rally Victoria on November 11 and 12, where three championship points separate them from second place.
It's a fine line and it wouldn't have been so if problems with the front differential hadn't seen the pair drop a heat in round three in South Australia earlier in the year, knocking them from the championship lead.
Mechanical issues continued to plague them in round four in Coffs Harbour in September.
The pair led all the way until a failed driveshaft in his Toyota Corolla (Prototype) turbo-charged 4WD gave them a second placing, with just enough championship points to reclaim the lead with a season total to date of 251.
"We're not even going to think about it (mechanical problems)," Smart said.
"We've rebuilt the entire gearbox, engine, the drive train, breaks, suspension and steering.
"The car is new. This is an exciting time for us."
Smart said under-funding was the fundamental reason behind the mechanical problems.
"We're stretching the life expectancy of the components of the car as far as we can," he said.
"If we win the championship, hopefully, we can get some more sponsorship."
Smart won the Queensland Rally Championship in 2008, and the Australian Privateers' Cup in 2009. He finished second overall in the ARC last year.
Smart said he was feeling confident ahead of the final round of the season. "We know the road, and the conditions are looking to be fairly wet, which is what we're hoping for," he said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.