Australian Rally Champion, Nathan Quinn, is still hoping to contest the fourth round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in South Canterbury on June 23. Quinn finished an impressive second in last weekend's Canterbury Rally, driving Richie Dalton's Ford Fiesta Proto, nearly taking a last-stage win on the one-day rally. "The next round is on the radar, but funds will be tough," Quinn told RallySport Magazine. After driving an R5 Fiesta for the first time at Whangarei, Quinn was on another learning curve last weekend, but now lies in the top five in the 2018 NZRC pointscore. But his drive of Dalton's Fiesta wasn't easy. "I literally didn’t know how to start the car, and there is a photo of Richie and I at the start with me being instructed on how to start it," he said. "I drove it to the service park, and then the first time in anger on SS1.
Nathan Quinn and Richie Dalton

Nathan Quinn and and Fiesta Proto owner, Richie Dalton.

"The car is a weapon. In fourth, fifth and sixth gear it is as good as an R5 car, but it needs development in low to medium speed. "The conditions were tough, just like a wet Rally Queensland or Tidbindilla in the ACT. "I was quite nervous after a one pass recce, but Rally Queensland 2016 and Rally Canberra 2012 has put paid to my wet rally confidence! "The team had a really tough couple of weeks after Richie's crash at Whangarei, and I’m pretty sure James Laird from Force Motorsport worked 20 hour days all week. We had extras arrive on the Friday and it was midnight finishes, so it was a great effort." Once the rally got underway, it took the national champion some time to come to grips with the car. "SS1 was a steady start and I spent most of it trying to figure out the paddle shift. I never thought it would be that hard to adapt to, but the brain just couldn’t figure it out! "I was trying different diff settings and anti-lag settings mid stage, just trying to find something comfortable. "We spun at the end of the stage, and the minute intervals saw (Josh) Marsden right up me. Next stage was a good turn around, but knew there was work to do. "We progressed through the day with set-up, adaptation, different Dunlop compounds and patterns, and really started to dial in. I was looking forward to the night by the time we moved up to third.
Nathan Quinn and Dave Calder

Nathan Quinn and Dave Calder.

"I was happy to settle for position as the car had never finished a rally prior, but the red haze came over me on the start of SS9. Apart from the map light failing at the start control, then the lights going out mid stage, we had good rhythm. "The spectator numbers during the day were great, and we came to the spectator point at night and it was just the greatest sensation with the amount of people and flashes. But, literally, just down the road we had this epic spin out of nowhere, which took us by surprise. "We had to do an Austin Powers three point turn and got through to the end. "I said to Greg Murphy that it must have been ice, but he said 'no way, not cold enough'. "My confidence was low so we pushed into the final stage, but made the choice to get it home. I was devastated we only lost the event by 10 seconds, but over the moon to get it all home in one piece for its first full rally." After the generosity of Richie Dalton to allow him to drive the car in the event, Quinn can't thank the Irishman enough. "Richie was on media duties with the NZRC, but I think he spent most time at my service. "The team were very happy. It was an amazing opportunity that Richie gave me and I can’t thank him enough. Nathan Quinn Canterbury Rally "I am very fortunate and thankful for those that have helped these events come to fruition, including Richie, Dave Calder, Magnum Compliance (pre-event workshop use) and Import Parts Specialists." Quinn's father, Martin, said it was a tough decision to head to New Zealand to compete, but one that is proving to be beneficial to his son's career. "Basically we went to NZ to try to generate some interest from other parties with the news that the ARC champ went to the NZRC," Martin Quinn said. "It's not about throwing dirt in the face of the ARC, it's about furthering our challenge and generating sponsorship. "In the past we have always done high value, high profile events and entered the Asia Pacific Championship, WRC etc., looking for publicity to gain interest instead of doing the ARC component. "It didn’t work. We have had more interest after winning the ARC than ever, but the bottom line was we sold the championship-winning car to do last year's ARC, and we are now car-less. "We couldn’t get help to get a car in Australia, but can in New Zealand." Martin also said the competition in New Zealand was also at a high level, providing Nathan with a real challenge. "We are up against some pretty formidable opponents over there (which is also why we are there) and they are incredibly experienced and fast," Martin said. "Their Group N cars are hardly that, they are fast and mean. Paddon's car is another level and clearly the target. "I suspect if the top five guys over there, including Paddon, came to ARC it would be very interesting on our soil."
Canterbury Rally podium

Quinn and Calder on the podium at the Rally of Canterbury.

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