Top flight debut

NOBODY has doubted that young rally car driver Nathan Quinn has ability.

Tomorrow may see many in the rally-car game finally get an answer to the question regarding just how much ability the actually has.

This weekend, the 21 year old Coffs Harbour local makes his debut at international level when he competes in the Rally of Canberra which is a round of both Asia-Pacific Championship and Australian Rally Championship.

The event held on Saturday and Sunday will see drivers and teams from Japan, India, China, Russia, Malaysia, England, New Zealand and the United States competing - making this weekend's event the best opportunity of Quinn's career since it started less than two years ago.

Asked how he rates his own chances in such a high-level event, Quinn answered in his typical self-effacing way.

"I am in a two-day international event and just to finish a stage in Canberra is an accomplishment in itself," he said.

"I intend to be at the finish after two days."

Quinn is aware that competing in the Asia-Pacific rally and not a round of the national championships means that he may be distracted by the performances or speeds of other Aussie drivers in the nation's capital.

"My ARC competitors are in two one-day rallies and can sprint and rebuild," he said.

"We can't as my race is ahead of me not behind me."

The opportunity for Quinn to compete at such a high level came after he was named as one of five members of the prestigious CAMS Driver Development Program with the AIS to be upgraded to an international license.

The upgrade couldn't have come at a better time with world-tyre-giant Pirelli announcing that they will be funding a 'search for a star' program to help young drivers in the Asia-Pacific region to reach the world championship.

Trying to win the Pirelli prize, Quinn is looking to compete in New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Canberra which is what Pirelli require of the winner.

Driving a Mitsubishi Evo 5 Lancer, Quinn will be up against the big boys getting around in their Evo 9's but the crew believe that the car has been adjusted to perform at its absolute maximum potential.

"We have had to do a bit more work on the car than we wanted to," Nathan said.

"Although the car was very much standard it did have a larger exhaust which has had to be changed back to standard.

"It was basically de-tuned to what it was but the car has since been re-tuned to enable us to run the special fuel that this level of competition requires.

"It's pretty good now, actually it's better than it was."

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