Quinn takes Rally Tasmania title
Queenslander Tony Quinn has held off a fierce challenge by seven-time Bathurst winner Jim Richards to take his first Rally Tasmania title in one of the closest finishes in the event's 29 year history.
Quinn, driving a Nissan GTR, started the day with a 1.9 second buffer over Richards' Porsche 911 GT2. But the wily circuit racing veteran went on to win five of the final six stages to run secure a 14.4 second victory. But the final margin belied the intensity of the day's action, because with one stage to go just 4.6 seconds separated the pair. Quinn held his nerve to dominate the final stage and take the outright honours.
Local Burnie driver, Jamie Vandenberg, held on for third place, one minute 56.2 seconds behind the leader.
The battle of the classic car title was less intense, with Kevin Weeks easily the master of the Tasmanian roads in his Porsche 911, finishing nearly four minutes clear of his nearest rival to take the first round of the Australian Classic Tarmac Rally Championship.
Behind him though, an gripping dual raged between Victorian Gary Tierney and South Australian Roger Paterson. Tierney eventually edged in front of his fellow 1974 Porsche by just 2.5 seconds.
In the Australian Rally Championship component of the event, Neal Bates held on to take maximum points to kick-start his title defence. His Toyota team mate, Simon Evans, pushed hard all day, but eventually finished 10.5 seconds behind Bates, having shaved three seconds from the overnight buffer.
Evans was, however, 25.9 seconds clear his brother, Eli, who rounded out the podium in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
With the cars back in Burnie, the drivers had a chance to relax at last, and Quinn was delighted with his victory in the powerful Nissan GTR.
"It's great to win a fantastic event," Quinn said.
"We had to push really hard today to keep Jim (Richards) at bay, but we managed to bring it home.
"We have not had any problems all weekend. The car has been terrific, and will only get better if it is wet in future events."
Classics winner, Kevin Weeks, felt he was lucky to get his car back to Burnie to collect the spoils of victory.
"We were quite lucky in the end," Weeks said. "The differential started make noises today, and on the last stage back to Burnie it really started howling - we weren't sure if we were going to make it.
"But overall the Porsche was fantastic, and the new stages used today, to the south east of Burnie, were great fun to drive."
It was the end of an era for Bates, with Toyota now withdrawing from the Austalin Rally Championship after this weekend.
"We're incredibly happy to win the final event for Toyota, and for Simon to complete a 1-2 for the team," Bates said.
"We had to push really hard for the whole three days, but the car and the tyres have done the job superbly.
"It's a great start to the championship, and gives us valuable points heading to the next round in Canberra."
2009 Rally Tasmania results
1. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, Nissan GTR, 1h39m00.4s
2. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 GT2, +14.4s
3. Jamie Vandenberg / Simon Vandenberg, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +1:56.2
4. Tony Longhurst / Linda Long, Subaru Impreza WRX STIm +2:21.2
5. Tony Alford / Kelly Handley, Nissan GTR, +3:55.3
6. Simon Gillet / Kathy Norton, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +4:57.9
1. Kevin Weeks / Rebecca Crunkhorn, 1974 Porsche 911, 1h43m43.7s
2. Gary Tierney / David Carra, Porsche Carrera RS, +3m58.9s
3. Roger Paterson / Richard Geue, Porsche 911 RS, +4m01.5s
4. Steven Cadden / Steven Strik, Porsche 911, +7m53.3s
5. Glyn Crimp / Paul Van Der Mey, Porsche 924 GTS, +8m26.7s
Australian Rally Championship
1. Neal Bates / Coral Taylor, Toyota Corolla S2000,
2. Simon Evans / Sue Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000, +10.5s
3. Eli Evans / Chris Murphy, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +36.4s
4. Brendan Reeves / Rhianon Smyth, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2:40.0s
5. Glen Raymond / Matt Raymond, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +2:48.4s
6. Dean Herridge / Glen Weston, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3:40.3s