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The death of any person in the rallying community is always hard to take. When that death occurs in competition and the person is someone that you know, it is always a pill that is a lot harder to swallow. I first got to know Paul Flintoft in 1992 when four of us headed to New Zealand on a week-long adventure that saw us take in the Rothmans Rally of New Zealand. It was a real “boys own” holiday that involved plenty of sideways action and more laughs than I care to remember. Right from that first meeting it was obvious that Paul was an eccentric kind of guy. Well educated, he wasn’t the type of guy that fitted the normal profile of a rallying fanatic, but he was certainly that. His love of the sport was obvious to see. Perhaps ironically, that trip ended early for Paul. Travelling in a Subaru wagon on a narrow, winding dirt road, we were hit head-on by a car load of Indonesian spectators travelling on the wrong side of the road. Our car was written off, but the Indonesians carried on, despite their car trailing water and battery fluid as it headed out of sight. While we quickly found a hire car to continue our WRC adventure, Paul had injured his neck in the accident and soon found himself on a plane heading back to Melbourne. The next time I came across Paul was when he started competing. Navigating in the Daihatsu Challenge for his wife, Jenny, his skills as a co-driver were starting to come to the fore. Jenny was never a very fast driver, but their enthusiasm was catching. When Jenny retired from the sport, Paul couldn’t. Rallying was in his blood and he continued to appear regularly in the co-driver’s seat. His attention to detail was one of his real strengths, and it was this that saw him co-driving for Australian and international drivers in the WRC, at Asia Pacific Championship events, and in tarmac rallies, such as the Mt Buller Sprint. In later years it was the Mt Buller Sprint where Paul seemed to appear most, and it was an event he loved. He won the event outright with Alex Davison in a Porsche GT3 in 2004, ahead of Peter Brock in a Holden Monaro. Three years on, both Brock and Flintoft are no longer with us, and both because of accidents in wet, tarmac rallies. Rallying can not afford to lose talented people such as Paul Flintoft, and much soul searching needs to be done in the coming months to find out not only why this tragic accident happened, but how it could have been prevented. Forty-two year old Paul Flintoft is survived by his wife Jenny, and by his sons, Mark and Sean. To them, we send our deepest sympathies. - Peter Whitten
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