All eyes on the prize for Quinn in ARC finale
It will be a difficult weekend for Coffs Coast Rally Team driver Nathan Quinn and Ben Searcy at Rally Australia this weekend.
For the first time, Quinn will forego his usual brave attack on the internationals for ARC glory. To come away as Australian Champion this weekend will take some monumental luck, something that isn’t always forthcoming the way he would like.
Hopes for a win are high with Quinn’s results at Rally Australia having been outstanding in the past, with fastest Group N times and top 10 overall times in 2011, a WRC drive with Mini and 8th overall in 2013, and overall winner of the production class in 2015 with 14th overall, first Australian home and fourth WRC2.
But international glory is to take a back seat if Quinn wishes to come out as Australian Rally Champion. Unlike rival Molly Taylor, Quinn and co-driver Ben Searcy have entered their Evolution 9 Lancer as an ASN (Australian content) entrant in the WRC component this weekend.
Quinn laments that he will not be able to fight his mates Brendan Reeves or Harry Bates, or any of the Internationals due to some restrictions encompassed with scoring points for the ARC. He is only committed to beating Molly Taylor home and giving his team the best opportunity possible to be 2017 Champions.
“I have played the WRC card for the last few years at this rally, so for me I would like to win the ARC component. Last year, after a shocker event, we won the Sunday heat, but this year I want to win all three days and take the championship from Subaru,” Quinn said.
“All I can do is lead from the front and see what happens in the rear view mirror.”
Going into Rally Australia this weekend, Quinn trails Subaru’s Molly Taylor by 30 points, with 100 points up for grabs, but says although possible, the deficit is a big one.
After winning the last round in South Australia, and several second places this year, he says that the previous event in Canberra could very well have brought the team’s hopes of a championship win undone, so had no choice but to win in both South Australia, and now on home ground in Coffs Harbour.
Leading the championship going into Canberra, Quinn explains.
“We had been in the top two positions in the championship all year, it’s been fascinating and consistent with our ARC strategy, but Canberra may well have cost us more than the lead.
“We completed every special stage of the event as we have the entire championship, but it was impossible for us to return to the service park. We couldn’t get our third place points, which is why we now sit in second place in the championship, not first.
“We must win this weekend and hope that Molly finishes third or lower.”
The weekend ahead sees 20 points on offer each day and 40 points for the overall three-day winner. Mathematically, Taylor would need to finish lower than third for the weekend, which Quinn sees as unlikely.
“Molly is driving really well for a great team, with plenty of experience. After Canberra, we put pressure on her in South Australia and we won 12 of the 14 stages and tried to tempt her to catch us and force a mistake, but she was too mature and protected her championship with a great drive.
“Whatever happens, it’s been a good year for what is really our first attack on the ARC, so the best Ben and I can do is win and wait to see where Molly finishes,” Quinn said.