TARGA ROTORUA: Mercy stop halts Tony & Naomi's challenge
Tony and Naomi were embroiled in a three-way battle for the lead until they stopped to help injured fellow competitors
JUNE 10, 2012. Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett put the welfare of another competing crew before their chances of victory in Targa Rotorua today.
The Queensland-based Scot and his Adelaide co-driver stopped to assist Stuart and Bret Scoular after their Subaru Impreza WRX Sti crashed heavily on the first stage of Day 2. Tony and Naomi were following a short distance behind the Scoulars, and saw their car slam into the concrete parapet of an underpass tunnel.
“The Subaru took a big hit, and since we were the first on the scene we stopped to lend assistance,” Tony said. “I extinguished a fire in the engine bay, and then put out the danger boards to warn the next crews coming down the road.
“We were able to get Bret out of the car, although he was pretty dazed, but Stuart was trapped inside.”
Naomi climbed inside the wrecked rally car to attend to the injured driver, who had suffered serious leg injuries.
“Stuart was in a bad way – he was in the back of the cabin, and bleeding a lot from his legs,” she said. “I tried to reduce the blood loss with a tourniquet until the emergency crew arrived.
“They cut the car open to get Stuart out, and then they helicoptered him to hospital.”
Naomi has time - just! - to wave to the photographer as Tony hustles the Nissan GT-R along in Leg 1.
Having lost too much time to remain in contention for victory, and with no desire to continue, Tony and Naomi withdrew from the event immediately.
Before the incident they’d been embroiled in a three-way battle for the outright lead of the event with Kiwis Glenn Inkster-Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 6), Leigh Hopper-Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) and Dean Sumner-Malcom Peden (Mitsubishi Evo IX).
Honours in the Allcomers 4WD category, which usually provides the outright winner, were divided over the first day’s 192km competition route. The seven timed stages covered scenic mountain roads made treacherously damp in patches by light rain.
Sumner-Peden won the opening stage, then Tony and Naomi took the lead with a win on Stage 2, only for Sumner-Peden to grab it back on Stage 3. Inkster-Winn had a spell at the front on stage 4, but Sumner-Peden retook the lead on stage 5!
Then Sumner-Peden crashed out of the event on Stage 6, allowing Inkster-Winn back into the lead that they held until the end of the day’s final stage. Before the Scoulars’ incident, Tony and Naomi trailed Inkster-Winn by 26 seconds, with Hopper-Kirkpatrick another 17 seconds back in third place.
Inkster-Winn went on to claim victory on the second day by one minute 11 seconds over Hopper-Kirkpatrick, with Mark Whyte-Tracey Lance third in a V8 Toyota Altezza, eight minutes 32 seconds further back.
Having failed to finish Targa Bambina in March with mechanical falure, Tony and Naomi are looking forward to restoring their mantle as the region’s leading tarmac rally crew in New Zealand’s most prestigious – and longest – event, Targa New Zealand, from October 22-27.
“Obviously we’re disappointed not to be able to fight with Glenn and Spencer all the way to the finish this weekend, but there was no option but to stop and help the Scoulars,” Tony said. “It’s an unwritten rule in rallying that you help your fellow competitors when they’re in trouble – just as you’d expect them to help you in the same situation.
“We hope that Stuart and Bret have a speedy recovery, and look forward to seeing them rallying again as soon as possible.”
|| Glen Inkster-Spencer Winn (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti)
|| 2hr 44min. 46sec.
|| Leigh Hopper-Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti)
|| 2hr 45min. 57sec.
|| Mark Whyte-Tracey Lance (Toyota Altezza)
|| 2hr 54min. 29sec.
|| Tony Quinn-Naomi Tillett (V.I.P. Petfoods Nissan GT-R R35)