Tony Quinn’s 2011 Targa Rotorua lasted just a few seconds when his VIP Petfoods Nissan GT-R ground to a halt less than a hundred metres into the first competitive stage.

Quinn was one of the fancied runners for the two-day tarmac rally, which is held on closed public roads around the geothermal North Island town, having won in 2009 and finished second in 2010.

But this year’s Targa Tasmania winner and his navigator, Adam Tillet, were out on the spot when their 360kW all-wheel-drive supercar’s transfer driveshaft broke.

“To say I’m disappointed would be understatement,” Quinn said. “The shaft, which runs from the transaxle at the rear to the front differential, broke clean through as I accelerated away from the start.

“I wasn’t pushing particularly hard off the line, being the first stage and on a wet road – I’m surprised it didn’t happen at the traffic lights on the way to the event!”

Quinn said that replacing the shaft, or removing it altogether, weren’t options

“We didn’t have time to replace the driveshaft and stay in the event, and we couldn’t just remove it because the car won’t run at high speed in rear-wheel-drive.

“Even if we fixed the car overnight and ran tomorrow’s stages we’d have been out of contention, so it’s better to keep the car in one piece than thrash around at the back of the field.”

Quinn added that the early DNF might be a timely wake-up call for the VIP Petfoods team to overhaul the 2008 model Nissan.

“We’ve never had a failure like this before, but the car’s done 32,000km so we might give it a birthday before Targa New Zealand in October,” he said.
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