Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith have bounced back from a difficult start to their 2023 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) campaign to win Heat 2 of the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston.
The 2017 ARC champion overcame mechanical dramas from yesterday’s action to come away from Sunday’s six stages with top honours, as well as finishing second in the first EROAD Power Stage for 2023.
While Quinn and Winwood-Smith steered their Hyundai i20 G4 to the Heat 2 win, it was the reigning ARC Champions in Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin who took out top honours for the weekend as a whole.
Starting the round with a victory in Heat 1, Lewis and McLoughlin faced some challenges on Sunday but still managed to finish Heat 2 in third place and top spot in the EROAD Power Stage, earning himself the overall round victory.
Finishing Sunday’s heat in second place behind Quinn and Winwood-Smith was Luke Anear and Malcolm Read in the AGI Rallysport prepared Skoda Fabia R5.
Having shown plenty of improvement in yesterday’s afternoon stages, Anear and Read were right on pace through Sunday’s stages, which included a win on SS8.
Capping off his weekend with a third place on the EROAD Power Stage, Anear also managed to secure second on the outright round podium behind Lewis and McLoughlin.
“It’s been an amazing weekend – almost faultless from Anthony and me – it’s been a great performance,” Lewis said post-Power Stage.
“It’s been tricky, we haven’t been here in March before so I wasn’t used to the slippery roads. Absolutely over the moon to take the win today. It’s amazing.
“Took it a bit steady this (Sunday) morning. It was easy to get caught out on the loose roads, but I wanted the points on the Power Stage, so we had a good push.”
Although both Lewis and Anear bagged plenty of points over the weekend, Sunday belonged to an impressive Quinn who finished in the top two on every stage.
It didn’t come easy for Quinn though as he was locked in an entertaining battle against Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and Coral Taylor during Sunday morning’s stages, with Harry’s two stage wins giving them the lead over Quinn at service.
Unfortunately, the 2019 champion had a roll on the second pass of Springfield South and dropped down the order as a result, while Quinn produced consecutive stage wins on SS10 and SS11 to power to the lead.
A second place behind Lewis on the final stage all but sealed the Heat win for Quinn, who also ended up third for the weekend overall.
“It’s good to give the team payback. Ray has been rallying for 40 years, and it’s the first time he has ever won a national heat in the ARC, so well done to Ray and to the team,” Quinn said.
“We were on limited spares and limited crew and there were a lot of times we thought we were out and done, but somehow we managed to pull it together and do things we probably shouldn’t have and it’s paid off.
“That’s the important thing. They always say in movies that you should never give up and we did it.
“I thought we had won the Power Stage and then to hear Lewis win by four tenths, congratulations to him and it’s a shame Harry had a Nathan Quinn weekend because he would have been fast, but I know where I lost it. We move forward to the next one though, which I am happy to say will be the next ARC round (Western Australia).
“We have never been here (Tasmania), but this weekend has been fantastic and it was run faultlessly, so well done to everyone involved.”
As for Harry, his strong morning kept him in the points for Heat 2 with fourth, although it was a weekend to forget by his standards after he failed to finish Heat 1 and placed outside the top 10 in the EROAD Power Stage.
Rounding out the top five for Sunday’s heat was Eddie Maguire and Adam Kudra, with the Tasmanian producing a wonderful performance over the weekend.
Despite being a late call up to the event and having very little time to prepare, Maguire showcased his talent behind the wheel with top five finishes in both heats and a victory in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
Maguire’s biggest goal heading into the weekend was to beat his brother Stephen and he did just that as just nine tenths of a second separated the two at the end of Sunday’s Heat.
There were plenty of locals making up the top 10 on Sunday with Heat 1 runner-up Bodie Reading and co-driver Mark Young finishing eighth overall behind West Australians Daniel Gonzalez and Daymon Nicoli.
Reading also came away with second in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup, beating Stephen Maguire and Stuart Benson.
A further two Tasmanian crews made up the rest of the Heat’s top 10 with Timothy Auty and Callan Randall comfortably beating the 10th placed Crichton Lewis and Anthony Carr by two minutes.
Taking out the Heat’s ARC 2WD Cup were Victorians Ben Hayes and Catherine Hayes, while Trevor Stilling and Jon Thomson ran out as ARC Classic Cup winners.
A full replay of the Sunday’s EROAD Power Stage is available on 7plus, while a 30-minute highlights package will be shown on 7plus and 7mate in the coming weeks.
The next round of the 2023 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship season is the Make Smoking History Forest Rally on 19-21 May, based out of Nannup near Busselton in Western Australia.