A good result here in front of the big teams is important for my long term goal of being able to compete all around the world. When that day comes, I will always take the Coffs Coast with me.
Born and bred on the Coffs Coast, Nathan Quinn is enjoying a successful start to his career in the APRC, having recently competed in his first overseas event in New Caledonia after a year or so in the Australian rally championship. The 25-year-old is driving with such skill and enthusiasm, he is giving the ex world rally drivers and multiple international champions competing in the APRC a run for their money. Nathan is a proud local, and while he is now competing on the international stage, it is obvious that he always takes his Coffs Coast pride and our Coffs Coast brand with him.
“As a young lad growing up, schooling, training and studying on the Coffs Coast, I become very grounded to my community. The Coffs Coast is a thriving and supportive regional area, and it is my community right now that is allowing me to live my dream,” says Nathan.
Nathan has worked hard over the years to achieve his goals and make a stand in rally, and at one point worked 5 concurrent jobs to save enough money to start. Still to this day, apart from studying a part time degree, he works as a full time mechanic and works Saturdays and every other minute of overtime he can get to help feed his dream. Clearly, although some people might believe that living in a regional centre like Coffs Harbour can limit your opportunities, he is proof that it’s not the case at all.“I was told many times that it was a pipe dream to think I could compete internationally, but I never gave up on my dream, and I found a way. It’s a strong message to the young people of Coffs that you don’t need to move away to achieve great things, even though I am only just on my way. If you set goals, work hard, believe in yourself, and surround yourself with good, positive people, you can achieve anything,” says Nathan. “I want to share my story and inspire others from regional centres like Coffs to achieve their potential. You don’t have to go to the big city to do big things; there are no barriers.”
Nathan’s ultimate goal is to become an international rally champion, and he’s certainly on the right track. Just last week, Nathan and the Coffs Coast Rally Team arrived home from an eventful week at the Rally de New Caledonia, their first overseas journey. The 3rd Round of the Asia Pacific Championship took place away from the tropical holiday beaches of New Caledonia, at Mont Creve Coeur. The team opened up many eyes over the weekend, setting fastest stage times and getting into 2nd position overall, before a small mistake led to suspension failure.
“I made a few little mistakes that cost us a lot of time on Friday and Saturday morning, as I have never seen conditions like it anywhere. It rained quite a lot leading up to the event, and it was so slippery that many former champions were complaining that it was like driving on soap. Every time I came back to service, the boys were presented a muddy wreck of a car to deal with. But the team worked hard, allowing me to push in the afternoon to net a few fastest times. On Friday we went from 11th to 6th, and on Saturday we went to second overall, which was a performance noticed by all the big teams.”
Nathan couldn’t be more grateful of the local support he is receiving on his campaign, as it is ultimately what drives him to work harder to make the Coffs Coast proud. “It was great to know the following from home, with the messages and emails I received during the event. It was an immense amount of pressure knowing we had effectively the weight of the Coffs Coast on our shoulders, but we were proud – especially fighting back to 2nd overall.
“On Sunday morning it was like I could feel everyone in Coffs holding their breath for us, and we decided to take it a bit easy on the first stage, especially after what happened in QLD a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I clipped a large rock and broke a steering arm, control arm and K-frame, which forced us to withdraw. It just goes to show that concentration is everything, and you should always try your absolute hardest; that’s the lesson I learned that day.”
While missing out on a result, the Coffs Coast Rally Team managed to raise their profile beyond expectation after flamboyant driving and battling the odds stole the limelight away from the bigger teams. Already they have received a large amount of coverage, which will span to television in over 129 countries and 390 million viewers.
But Nathan is not just a rally driver. He has a strong passion for road safety and wants to become an ambassador for driver education and piloting programs for young drivers in Coffs. Early on in his learning days, he acknowledged the serious road safety issues confronting young drivers and now armed with even more knowledge and passion, he plans to work hard to further the cause for a proper facility to be available right here.“Rallying has a natural association with driving, an integral part of daily life, and apart from the obvious of planning to do well in the event, I would like to see the benefits and exposure of The Coffs Coast Rally Team used to develop better driver education programmes and facilities – particularly for the Coffs Coast, if not NSW.
“Our regional area should leverage from the exposure and examples the World Rally Championship brings and align ourselves with a piloting program for young drivers. I want to lobby government and others to attract funding to provide the facility here in Coffs for the entire region for the long term. We must use this exposure to set the focus for our young drivers; we must stop teaching them how to get a licence and start educating them on good driving attitudes and skills.”
This is a young man on a mission.
Nathan is also excited about the upcoming World Rally event to be held here in September. “I had a dream that one day I would compete in the World Rally Championship, but could never have imagined competing in a World Rally Championship event in my home town. That dream still stands, and its realisation gets closer by the day.
“Coffs Coast deserves this round of the World Rally Championship; we’ve worked hard for it, well before I came along. It will be a fantastic opportunity for the Coffs Coast that I hope will not only raise the profile of motorsport and rallying in Australia, but also raise awareness of our beautiful region and encourage more long term investment and provide even greater opportunities for our youth from regional areas like Coffs to excel.”
Nathan has his own personal aspirations for Rally Australia. “I aim to be the leading Australian in the Production World Rally Championship and am looking forward to taking it to my Kiwi buddy Haydon Paddon, who is setting the world on fire right now. I would like to think that I could be 2nd Australian overall should Chris Atkinson be slugging it out in the elite World Rally Cars. I have often referred to Chris’ exploits when he was in the world championship with Subaru, and I used him to keep me focused when things seemed a little further away than I would have liked them at times. Chris is a fantastic competitor and one we in Australia should be proud of … but push comes to shove, I’ll have his seat any time he slips up!”
A proud local, Nathan says that Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast will give him a big boost of self confidence. “I want to be quick, and I showed that at last year’s ARC on the Coffs Coast. I set a number of fastest stage times, as I did recently at the International Rally of Queensland and New Caledonia. I know I have the speed; however, I have not been able to do enough events until now to be consistent – thanks to the support from the Coffs Coast.”
They plan to do more events and complete a full calendar in the APRC to gain more experience at an international level. “That way, when Rally Australia is here in town, we can be on top of our game,” Nathan says. “A good result here in front of the big teams is important for my long term goal of being able to compete all around the world. When that day comes, I will always take the Coffs Coast with me.”
This year, Nathan and the Coffs Coast Rally Team have taken the Coffs Coast brand overseas as part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. They are succeeding in putting our name right under the noses of the FIA and impressing on them the support emanating from the Coffs Coast for the sport as a whole and for the event that is heading our way in September.
With over 150 km of overseas competition now under their belt, Nathan and the Coffs Coast Rally Team are now looking toward the 4th Round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship taking place on the North Island of New Zealand next month. It puts our brand right to the heart of the country that has the 2012 round of the World Rally Championship. With such obvious support from the Coffs Coast and with Nathan’s and his team’s obvious skills, perhaps with a little luck when the calendar is set for 2013, next April our efforts and our support for this initiative just may top the scales in our favour and the event will return.
All we can say is: “Go Nathan, go Coffs Coast Rally Team; you are doing us proud!