Nathan's rally heartbreak
LOCAL rally driver Nathan Quinn suffered his greatest heartbreak so far in his first year of competitive rally car driving when he was chasing glory over the weekend in the Sydney Car Auction Rally Lithgow when he was disqualified from completing the event after running out of late time.
In a day that started perfectly for the team, the young talent was exceptionally happy with his performance until the fateful final moments.
"We've spent weeks repairing the car after the roll in the ARC and we're just wrapped to set the eighth and 10th fastest times against one of the toughest fields I have ever competed against," Quinn said.
"It was even stronger than the field at the Australian championship."
After only two stages the young talent was already nearly a full minute ahead of the nearest rival in his class in two wheel drives and sitting comfortably in ninth outright.
During the third stage the engine developed a serious misfire and wouldn't develop full power and he lost over a minute to his nearest competitor and dropped to 15th place.
Due to the nature of rallying these days, the team wasn't able to repair the car for another stage and he had to drive the 23km fourth stage with hardly any power.
It dropped Nathan and his co driver Bruce Tyler from 15th down to 29th. The crew were finally able to get to the car after this stage but were gutted.
"I could see that we had lost our chances of challenging the leaders but there was nothing I could do about it but wait and see if they could get it fixed," the young driver said.
The misfire proved elusive and hard to find. The crew even went to the extreme step of changing all the spark plugs, leads, ignition coils, and distributor trying to locate the problem, all to no avail.
Finally in true desperation they dismantled and cleaned the giant carburetor after one of the crew noticed a dirty filter.
"There was water in the fuel. I couldn't believe it. It must have come from one of our drums."
Finally up and firing again, Quinn again wowed spectators during the next two stages until the final service.
It was fixed and Nathan was able to complete the following two stages before the next and last service.
Taking over a minute off his nearest rivals, Quinn set the sixth and seventh fastest time in these stages and proved that he can put dramas behind him and get on with the job.
Returning for the final service in fine condition, the drama began.
The team was delivered the news from organisers that they had taken too long to fix the car and they were out of late time.
Quinn was disqualified and not allowed to complete the final two stages.
"I was destroyed," Quinn said.
"The whole service park was up in arms, they wouldn't even let us run the last two stages and sort it out later at the finish in case they were wrong. We were out and that was that.
"After all the work that we put in after rolling the car in Brisbane we were really looking forward to rewarding our sponsors with a good finish. But again, it wasn't to be."
The team's next event will be the Kempsey rally on May 26.
Here's hoping for better luck.