Last week’s entry list for the National Capital Rally showed reigning Champion Eli Evans reuniting with the Honda Civic Type-R, but a last minute change of plans will see Eli lining up for the start in Canberra next week in a very different vehicle.
“It’s a long story but we had some delays in preparing the Civic and that meant one of two things; not make the start in Canberra or find something else to drive,” explained Eli.
“I didn’t have a car, but Justin Dowel did, so we’re going to lease Justin’s Volkswagen Polo for Canberra,” he revealed.
Evans conducted a short test in the Polo this morning before sealing the deal with Dowel. “We probably ran 30 or 40 kilometres today. It’s a good little car, very stable like the (Honda) Jazz was, and the car has a lot of good bits in it.”
Evans will run the Polo as Justin Dowel finished last year’s Coates Hire Rally Australia, with the Evans Motorsport team looking to only make minor adjustments and refinements prior to the start of the National Capital Rally.
“It’s a new car to me but I can see the potential. The aim is to be competitive, and to aim for a podium finish, I think that’s realistic when you have a new car that you’re driving for the first time.”
“I was determined to get to Canberra, it was important to get some points to start the year off otherwise the other guys potentially could have gotten away from us and we never would have caught them up again,” Eli said.
“I will take the same approach to the rally though as I have to every other rally last year, to start at the same pace that I want to finish. I think if you do that it puts you in a strong position to challenge for maximum points.”
Determined to be at the opening Round this year Eli admitted that the team had pulled out all the stops following the withdrawal of Honda Australia at the end of 2013, and that the delays to the Civic had caused some concern.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into the Civic, and when we knew it wouldn’t be ready it time we very quickly had to come up with a new plan. We’ll get the Civic ready for WA though, I’m looking forward to getting back in it!”
“My focus now is on Canberra though, I want to drive as fast and as clean as I did last year in the Jazz. If we can get some good points from Canberra then I know we’re in the title race,” Eli stated.
Shakedown and the Armor All Power Stage for the National Capital Rally begin next Friday morning (28th February). Stay tuned to rally.com.au for all the latest news, results, photos and videos.