Kiwi Co-drives Australian Rally Driver to WRC Victory

| Photographer Credit: Geoff Ridder

Another top drive in Rally Australia has once again highlighted Nathan Quinn’s ability to mix it with the world’s best drivers when the World Rally Championship came to his home town.

The Australian rally driving sensation, who lives in Coffs Harbour, stormed home to claim a popular victory in the World Production class along with winning the coveted prize of first Australian Driver to reach the finish. Partnered by New Zealand based co-driver David Calder, the pair finished an impressive fourth in the WRC2 category against superior machinery, and 14th outright behind a host of top tier World Rally cars and drivers.

The World Championship rally based at Coffs Harbour was contested over three days and 300 kilometres of gruelling competitive stages by teams from thirteen different countries around the globe.

Quinn was nominated by the WRC2 Production team, Motorsport Italia, to score points in the Australian round of the championship in place of their regular driver, Italian Max Rendina. Driving a nine year old Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 in standard production trim, Quinn delivered on his teams instructions, beating current WRC2 Production championship leader Gianluca Linari by a staggering 23 minutes over the course of the event. Hampered on Day 1 by the dust of catching Linari on the morning loop of stages, this was quickly put behind him when the organisers allowed a re-seed for the afternoon.

Despite the handicap of using an older technology Group N car, Quinn and Calder were keen to see just how close they could get to the latest generation Ford Fiesta WRC2 cars on stage times. The trans-tasman pairing didn’t disappoint, punching above their weight to post several ‘Top 3’ WRC2 stage times including the infamous Valla stage run in darkness at the end of Day 2.

Commenting on his driver’s performance, Calder says it was “without doubt a world class drive”.

“Nathan drove within his ability all weekend, very smooth and fast whilst managing his speed to avoid risking damage to the car. The Evo has a lot less suspension travel to withstand the rougher forest roads and jumps than our competition in WRC2 Fiesta’s.”

Calder says that Quinn showed he is a very measured driver, and has the maturity to know when to attack a stage and when to ‘hold station’.

“On the road section before the 30km Newry Long stage on Day 1, the car lost power steering and we had to complete the stage without it. It was a monumental effort from Nathan to bring the car through in a respectable time still and not throw it off the road.

Realistically we are told there is 2 seconds per kilometre difference in time between the Group N car we were running compared with the latest technology WRC2 Ford Fiesta cars we were up against.

To be posting stage times around 1 second per kilometre off the guys that are driving these cars every three weeks is satisfying and highlights Nathan’s exceptional talent as a driver,” added Calder.

Ken Skidmore, Team Manager to WRC2 Drivers Championship leader and Rally Australia winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, was quick to give praise to Quinn’s result post event.

“We’ve been monitoring Nathan’s stage times all weekend. To be posting fast times consistently over the whole event in that machinery is something quite special; one of the best performances of anyone on this rally I think. There’s no questioning his ability, he has proven that more than once at this level now. We would love to see Nathan in the WRC2 championship in a top car,” said Skidmore.

Coffs Harbour rally fans were enthusiastic in their support of the favourite local boy for a top result out on the stages. Quinn and his popular personality ensured they went home with something to smile about, with a spectacular display of driving on the event’s final Power Stage.

For Quinn and Calder, the result marked just their fifth event together as a team after previous rallies competing together in China, Malaysia and Australia.

Calder says they have big respect for each other and a determination to progress their careers together.

“Nathan is a very marketable personality in the sport, something equal to his talent behind the wheel. Our challenge now is to align that to commercial partners with equal passion for success and exposure of their brand on the world stage.”

Quinn last contested Rally Australia in 2013 for Motorsport Italia, where he drove a Mini John Cooper Works world rally car for the first time to 8th outright against a quality field of factory works drivers.

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