Quinn on target to win first Australian Rally Championship

Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn is looking down the barrel of his first CAMS Australian Rally Championship if he can finish the third and final leg of Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Sunday.

Quinn has done everything right so far, winning both days but with Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor holding down second outright heading in to day two, it was not going to be enough for Quinn to bridge the 30-point gap in the title standings.

All that changed late on Saturday, when Taylor and co-driver Bill Hayes were left stranded roadside with engine dramas following the day’s fifth stage.

Unable to compete in the final ‘Destination NSW Super Special Stage’, Taylor and Hayes waved goodbye to their hard-earned day two points and are still assessing the damage. The Subaru do team will be working hard overnight to enable Taylor and Hayes to rejoin tomorrow and accumulate some points.

Informed of Taylor’s dramas, Quinn remained tight-lipped on his championship chances.

“I’ve heard rumours but we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

The Coffs Coast local did admit to a little frustration at not being able to do more to win the championship. 

“We are having a near perfect weekend, we’ve got a huge lead but as it sits at the moment we can’t win the championship if Molly continues to go the way she is so we kind of need a bit of a miracle for us to win.”

Quinn did say he was exercising some caution during today’s 139km of competition.

“Today was interesting, the start of the Nambucca 50km stage was quite wet but up over the mountain was quite dry and slippery. But it all worked out well for us. I was taking very minimal risk and we managed to win the stage for the ASN cars,” he said.

White Wolf Racing’s Tom Clarke and co-driver Ryan Preston put in an impressive drive on day two to move from fifth to second outright. The pair has recently stepped up from New South Wales state level to get a taste of national competition.

“We’ve been punching away at the NSW series and doing a couple of ARC events,” Clarke explained. 

“This is a bit of a lead up, we were going to do the full ARC next year so we wanted to see where we are sitting and play it from there.

“I thought it was going to be a bit of a rough start for us at the beginning, we got a flat on Nambucca about 20km in. We lost about three minutes early on and I thought the day was over but everyone got flats the next stage and it evened everything up and we’re looking fairly pretty this afternoon.”

Flying under the radar was Maximum Motorsport’s John O’Dowd and Ken Sheil, moving from eighth to third outright today. O’Dowd also leads the ARC2 final from Craig Brooks, with Tony Sullens’ event ending off the road in a paddock due to a broken control arm.

McMRallySport’s Stephen Mee continues to lead the ARC2 2WD title race from Nathanial Dillon with one day remaining.

In the ARC Classic Challenge, Michael O’Hagan leads in the Ford Escort MK II from Brett Stephens in the Datsun Bluebird and Andrew Hitch in the Mitsubishi Galant. 

Kennards Hire Rally Autralia, and the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, will wrap up Sunday afternoon with five stages and 64 competitive kilometres to run.

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Provisional Results – Top 10 Rally Australia ARC (end of day 2)
1. 68 QUINN/SEARCY 2:20:25.0
2. 75 CLARKE/PRESTON 2:29:40.9 (+09:15.9)
3. 77 O’DOWD/SHEIL 2:35:07.8 (+14:42.8)
4. 73 HATTON/FISHER 2:35:52.3 (+15:27.3)
5. 62 YOUNG/READ 2:36:12.0 (+15:47.0)
6. 80 DUNN/NEAGLE 2:38:12.9 (+17:47.9)
7. 88 McCONKEY/JOHNSSON 2:39:56.5 (+19:31.5)
8. 72 BROOKS/GLENNEY 2:40:36.2 (+20:11.2)
9. 85 WEBSTER/PRIEST 2:50:52.9 (+30:27.9)
10.78 BATES/MOSCATT 2:53:16.5 (+32:51.5)