In a 1970 Mazda RX2, 2017 Australian Rally champion, Nathan Quinn, triumphed over a classy field during a bushfire and rain-shortened Alpine Rally of East Gippsland over the weekend.
Quinn and his navigator, Ray Winwood-Smith, finished the rally in a time of one hour, 54 minutes and 37 seconds, adding a prestigious piece of silverware.
“I built the car, pretty well from the ground up 10 years ago,” Quinn said.
“It’s got much the same engine I had when I used to deliver pizzas, telling my old man I wanted to be a rally driver.”
It was Winwood-Smith’s first Alpine Rally of East Gippsland after taking a 28-year break.
Second place went to Tasmanians, Kade Barrett and David Guest, in their bright orange Plymouth Fire Arrow. It was Barrett’s fourth race.
Carl Stewart and Matty James finished third in their Datsun 1600. A former winner of the rookie award, this was Stewart’s seventh attempt, and best place, in rally.
International voice of the World Rally Championship, Colin Clark, told a packed crowd that the rally is a unique event on the world stage.
“Every time you come to Australia you realise how strong the rally community is,” he said.
“You’ve got to give it to the organisers. They have worked with the two most challenging extremes you can imagine, bushfires on one hand, terrible rain and slippery conditions on the other — and we’ve still had a rally.
“You’ve got this event that, next time, will be a 100 years old. That’s something to be celebrate, surely.”
Event director, Owen Polanski, thanked local officials from all agencies, and the Historic Rally Association who made the rally possible.
“They all willingly go out at all sorts of weird hours, in all sorts of terrible weather, and they do all sorts of fantastic work for us; sometimes for many, many hours out in the bush,” he said.
“I cannot thank them enough, for without them, nothing happens.”
The next running, of the fourth oldest motorsport event in the world, and oldest in Australia, will be in 2021.
PICTURED: Driver, Nathan Quinn, and navigator, Ray Winwood-Smith, negotiated wet conditions during their 2019 Alpine Rally of East Gippsland triumph over the weekend. (Photo: John Doutch-BTeamRallyMedia)