Nathan Quinn's brief foray into New Zealand national championship rallying has shown why he's the current Australian champ and one of the fastest drivers in the business. Quinn, who has entered only three events, is unlikely to contest the remaining rounds, despite lying in third place on adjusted points. But the real story is in how he managed to achieve this result. With top five results to his credit at every round, Quinn and his Kiwi co-driver David Calder have done it in remarkable fashion. They have used three completely different cars, driven for three different rally teams and adapted to New Zealand's unique reconnaissance rules, which only allow one pass over the competition stages before the rally. Until now, International Rally Whangarei has been the only event on the NZ Rally Championship (NZRC) calendar that has allowed a two pass reconnaissance, being a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship also.

Quinn's first NZRC event was in the R5 Fiesta at Whangarei.

However, with the next round at Coromandel allowing a two pass reconnaissance, Quinn has thrown his support behind the move and can see this development would entice more Australian competitors to rally here, and even set up the possibility of a Trans-Tasman challenge. "We have grown up with a two pass recce system as used by most countries, so it was another challenge to come to New Zealand and write our notes on a single pass," Quinn said. "Luckily the smooth and flowing nature of the roads in New Zealand make it easier on one pass, but it would be nice to have proper reconnaissance. "I could see more Australians being tempted across if there was two passes to allow proper pacenoting, and who knows, maybe a Trans-Tasman series could develop with a few rounds in each country?" he said.

Nathan Quinn pushing hard in Richie Dalton's Ford Fiesta Proto. Photo: Geoff Ridder

Each time Quinn has competed in the Kiwi championship he has hardly had the ideal preparation, which makes his results even more impressive. "At South Canterbury we only drove 25km in the car on tarmac before the start of the rally, at Christchurch I drove the car for the first time to the ceremonial start and then straight into it the next morning, although at Whangarei we did get a short pre-event test, but not really enough to get the ideal set up for the car." In the latest round based out of Timaru, Quinn drove an older generation Group N plus Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, ironically the car once owned and driven by WRC star Hayden Paddon. At the Canterbury Rally he competed in a Ford Fiesta Proto as a 'shakedown' for the car's owner, Richie Dalton, following a heavy crash in the previous event and finished second, while at Whangarei he finished third in a current R5 specification Ford Fiesta. Three completely different cars, so how did he find the transition from each car? "I have been the most fortunate driver of late to have driven all the types of cars I have.

Nathan Quinn won last year's Australian Rally Championship in a Lancer Evo 9. Photo: Geoff Ridder

"So my transition has been simple in that respect. I have driven new cars, new events, against new competitors, with new team members and plenty of surprises. But I've had experiences I cannot replace." Although Quinn is placed in a three-way battle for the runner-up position in the New Zealand Rally Championship, it is unlikely he will return for the final two rounds. "We have exhausted all of our resources to compete in the three rounds we have done so far, so unless we can secure sponsorship, we'll be forced to watch online from home," added Quinn. And that begs the question, if he should return, what car would he drive? "I had my Evo 9 (known as Shirley) for 8 years, so I am actually homeless when it comes to a 4WD car these days! "If I can figure out my finances I would love to keep my trend going. New rally, new car, new team, new friends, but maybe more testing. "After all, a great quintet comprises of five ingredients."
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