Former Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has won the opening round of the NSW Rally Championship by the smallest of margin, just 4.7 seconds. Quinn won both heats of the rally and dedicated the win to his co-driver, Ray Winwood-Smith, who was working off pace notes for the first time.

Quinn, from Coffs Harbour and Winwood-Smith from Bathurst, won four of the seven stages, but didn’t take the lead until Stage 5 where he took 12 seconds from then leader Clayton Hoy and Erin Kelly in another Lancer. Hoy and Kelly would suffer issues in Heat two, dashing their hopes of a podium position.

Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt finished second outright and took away 42 points towards the Championship. The Sydney based team were competing at their first event in the Australian Rally Championship winning Toyota Yaris AP4 from Neal Bates Motorsport. The second step on the podium was a great result for Dalton and Moscatt in a brand-new car for the team.

Chris Higgs and Steve Fisher in an older Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 were third. The result was a repeat of their third placing at the same event last year and their consistency bodes well for the season ahead.

In the 2WD East Coast Classic Rally Series (ECCRS), Tom Dermody and Eoin Moynihan would take the top honours in their APX Suspension Mk2 Ford Escort RS1800. Dermody has been absent from the ECCRS for a few rounds and the roaring sound of the BDA engine was a welcome return to the Canberra forests.

Hoosier Tire Australia are giving away a set of tyres at each round of this year’s NSW Championship and ECCRS, and the first give-away was won by Tim and Michael Valantine. They put the Hoosiers to good use to secure second outright in the 2WD ECCRS.

“I’ve never won anything” Tim Valantine said. “How good is this, a brand new set of tyres!”

Mal Keough continued his winning streak from 2020 by winning the 4WD ECCRS in the Audi Quattro S1. He had a new co-driver in the passenger seat, Jacci Sharkey reading the notes and sharing her first win for the year.

The first round of the 2021 NSW Rally Championship began where the previous season finished, at the Netier National Capital Rally. The Canberra based event consisted of two stages in the Tidbinbilla forests to the west of Canberra and then six stages in the Kowen forests to the east. The Rally was a mix of tight, twisty technical stages and more traditional open fast sections. It was also the first round of the Australian Rally Championship.

The next event on the NSW Rally Championship and ECCRS calendar will be the Bega Valley Rally, held over the June long weekend.

Photos: Roy Meuronen