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Nathan Quinn has emerged as both the outright and Classic category winner of the AMSAG Johns River Rally held on Saturday 29th October. Teamed with Steve Arthur, the talented Quinn piloted his Mazda RX2 to a comprehensive victory in what was the sixth and final round of the popular PipeKing Southern Cross Rally Series. The NSW Mid-North Coast was basking in sunlight as 35 crews set out to complete 150 competitive kilometres, the majority of which would be contested at night. Director Stuart Southam had set 5 daylight stages over 70 competitive kilometres before the first service, which doubled as a catered meal break. Ian Plenderleith needed a strong result to take the championship and bolted to an early lead recording the first two stage wins in his Lancer Evo2. Points leader Peter Neal responded by setting second fastest on both stages to stay in touch. The other title contender, Chris Jaques wasn’t to be left behind. After a slower start he fired up and landed three stage victories in a row in his Lancer Evo 9. Top seeds Tom Dermody and Michael Valantine were early retirements in their Escort and Datsun 1600 respectively, with both succumbing to engine issues. This relaxed Nathan Quinn’s lead on the Classic field, with the Coffs Harbour local holding 4th outright. A surprise 2nd in Classics were Matt and Adam Young in the Corolla. Making a mockery of their 21st seed, the Young’s were in 6th Outright. Another jumping many starting positions was Darkie Barr-Smith in the ex Dave King 200B in 7th Outright on his return to the sport. The Lady Drivers class saw Tara McIlroy’s Corolla lead Amanda Williams Mazda GTX into service with a 6 second lead after a close battle on the opening leg. Tara McIlroy, teamed with husband Jake, had quickly built the FWD Corolla after a rollover at the last round. Amanda Williams, teamed with Matt Byron, had broken a rear arm in the Mazda and limped into service just ahead of the sweep car. Jake Bramble/Michael Bannon were forced to retire the Pulsar GTiR after a frustrating run culminating with brake issues forcing their retirement after service. At Service 1 1.Plenderleith 39.34, 2.Neal 39.35, 3.Jaques 40.09, 4.Quinn 40.15, 5.Moore 40.52, 6.Young 41.29, 7.Barr-Smith 41.49, 8.O’Keeffe 41.52, 9.Ewing 41.58, 10.Manning 42.00 As night set in, it was Quinn that went on a rampage winning every stage except one. In a charge from 4th to 1st Outright he left the scrapping open competitors in his wake. The only competitors to offer any real resistance were Chris Jaques and Hugh Taylor in the Flowtech Evo9. Jaques overtook both Plenderleith and Neal to take Open Category victory and 2nd Outright. Peter Neal, with Craig Whyburn drove his WRX to 3rd Outright, trumping the Plenderleith/McMinn Evo 2 by a mere 2 seconds at the end of the event. In doing so, Neal and Whyburn claimed the Open Series Championship. The father and son pairing of Ron and Lachlan Moore were unable to repeat their Orange rally victory, however were competitive as they drove to a steady 5th in the Reliance Bank sponsored Lancer. Leigh Manning/Logan Waterhouse and PJ O’Keeffe/Paddy Skelton tied for 2nd Classic and 6th Outright after the demise of the Young brothers Corolla. Darkie Barr-Smith/Dean Price signalled that they will challenge for podium placing in the 200B with an impressive 8th Outright. Wade Ryan and Trent Brassil brought the Datsun 180B home in 9th the seal the Classic Series after a consistent run, with Stewart Khouri/ Arron Topliff charging the big Pajero into 10th. Mark and Harrison Hudson picked up 11th in the WRX, with John Joyner/Pickles Warwick 12th in the Lancer. The Hyundai Excel of Frank Neale/Jamie Neale were 1st FWD home in 13th, with Andy Crane’s Peugeot in 14th after issues in running. Stalwarts Peter Houghton and Phil Bonser were 15th in the Datsun 1600. Tara and Jake McIlroy were 16th Outright and 1st Lady Driver in the quickly built Corolla. Tara’s drive in a FWD car for the first time was commendable, but equally impressive was the resilience the team showed after the last event setback. Amanda Williams brought the Mazda home in 19th with hose clamps and zip ties holding the rear arm together, once again highlighting the determination of our lady competitors. Jo Price has Patrick Doolan in the co-drivers seat and brought the WRX home in 22nd Outright. Jo’s times are improving with every event. Kim Day had partner Russell Winks navigating and sealed a well-deserved Lady Championship with 24th Outright in the Toyota Celica. A win at Bega and a 2nd at Orange anchoring what was a consistent season for the Canberra based driver. Results and Competitor information can be found at www.amsag.com.au The John’s River Rally capped off a brilliant year of AMSAG PipeKing Southern Cross Series rallying, which saw 6 different event winners from the 6 events contested. The future looks bright, with the same 6 events retained for 2018 and competitor interest continuing to build. The AMSAG AGM, 2017 Presentation and 2018 Season launch is set for 3rd February 2018 at Leonay Golf Club.
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