The Coffs Coast Rally provided plenty of great action.
The Coffs Coast Rally provided plenty of great action. TREVOR VEALE

Future bright for local rally round

PERSISTANT rain has settled the dust and Eli Evans and Chris Murphy have been confirmed as winners but hundreds of stories are still being told about the 2008 Daikin-Allied Air Conditioning Coffs Coast Rally.

Fickle weather, under-rated crews performing beyond expectations and the expected dash of ill-fortune among the logical front-runners added up to a final ARC round that exceeded all expectations.

Rally director Martin Quinn admitted a few things were overlooked and a handful of teething problems had cropped up but overall, big time motor sport was back in Coffs Harbour to stay.

“The problems we'll fix after a debrief but I can't believe the size of the spectator support and the way the local fans have reacted to the event,” he said.

“We were amazed to see the roll-up at a couple of the spectator points - sometimes 10 or 12 people deep - and we didn't have anything as good as that back in the old days.

“All over town we're continuing to get good feedback.”

Rain caused the last two stages to be abandoned but by then just about all the major prize-winners had already been sorted out.

At some point in a lonely forest area, early on day one, Neal Bates and Coral Taylor collected enough points to win their fourth ARC title, causing them to throw caution to the wind and go for broke.

In the end, their enterprise had them rocketing into second place, only to go out the back gate when saddled with a four-minute penalty.

British Rally champion Guy Wilks was (supposedly) only out here to test the waters for the future.

But his sensational take-no-prisoners style was the talk of the weekend with one opponent suggesting if Honda can conjure him up a 4WD vehicle, future honours are at his mercy.

And what of home town favourite, Nathan Quinn?

Guided by race partner Ben Atkinson, the rising star with a fraction of the big boys' budget, finished a very prominent overall second and, as they say, how long can they keep him down on the farm?

After a decade in the wilderness, the Rally is back with the brightest of futures.

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