Strong finish to rally season for Shellshear and Fletcher
- 19th November 2008, 9:02am
The final NSW Rally State round for 2008 was run last weekend , November 15 and 16. This year saw the return of the rally to a combined round with the Australian Rally Championship.
From a field of 50 crews, 19 were entered to earn NSW State Championship points. Seven of these crews elected to enter the ARC event and have their road position seeded within the ARC crews. The remaining 12 state crews started behind the main ARC field.
Nigel Shellshear and Paul Fletcher of Sydney entered the State Round component of the Coffs Coast Rally in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3. After a 14th outright result in the 2007 Coffs Harbour Rally, they were looking to improve on this result, as well as backing up their recent fifth outright result in the Bay Stages Rally at Batemans Bay.
Their strategy was to enter on both days of the Coffs Rally – finish Saturday and then use Sunday as a testing and practice day. The final result was a sixth outright finish and third in class P5 – a solid finish in the final rally of the NSW series for 2008, and a good foundation for 2009.
During Recce on Friday some of the roads were quite dry but others, like McRaes, Range and Back Paddock, looked challenging (damp and wet) – before any competition had even begun. Fortunately, most of Friday was quite hot and dry which helped to dry out the wettest sections prior to the rally start on Saturday morning.
The Ceremonial Start was held on Friday afternoon in the centre of Coffs Harbour with the entire ARC, NSW and Allcomers field parked in the main street. This was an excellent opportunity for the public to mix it with the top ARC and NSW crews, with all of the displayed vehicles presented at a very high standard. After completing the ceremonial speeches, the cars were then waved away to ready themselves and make final preparations for an early start on Saturday morning.
The rally start from Coffs Harbour Stadium was clear with no rain and by 9am it was already warming up and looking to be a hot and blistering day. The first stage of Sherwood was split into two stages of 5.61 km and 15.67 km, due to wet &and rough road conditions in a short section of the original stage.
Nathan Quinn took the stage win in both stages, with Michael South only a few seconds behind.
Next the crews headed to the Bucca Long stage at 16.47km long. This stage was a mix with some tighter stuff, ending with an absolute blast at 180 kph along Wears Road. Quinn again took the stage win followed by South, John Mitchell, Kennedy, David and Shellshear.
After a short service and refuel at Coffs Harbour, the crews again tackled the same three stages followed by a short 6 km blast through McRaes Road. By the end of McRaes, Quinn was still leading the NSW state crews.
The majority of the state crews got hit by a sudden afternoon downpour of rain during the Bucca Long Stage 2, which slowed down the competitive times of those affected, significantly.
Crews then headed south of Coffs for the final two stages of Range Road and Back Paddock Road – both tight and twisty challenging stages to round out the final event of the 2008 NSW State Series.
Final NSWRC Coffs Coast Rally results at the end of Saturday were:
1st Quinn/Atkinson (Car 18, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 5)
2nd Mitchell/Cadman (Car 24, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7)
3rd Kennedy/Kennedy (Car 39, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3)
4th David/Geelan (Car 27, Porsche 911)
5th Taylor/Stevens (Car 28, Mitsubishi Mirage RS)
6th Shellshear/Fletcher (Car 42, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3)
7th Payne/Gordon (Car 40, Mitsubishi VR4)
8th Sluce/Sluce (Car 38, Subaru RS Impreza)
9th Berne/Best (Car 12, Subaru RS Impreza)
10th Mitchell/Bland (Car 41, Subaru WRX)
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