The 2018 Subaru Rally Tasmania was always going to be a momentous occasion, with the eagerly awaited return of national competition to the Apple Isle’s legendary forest roads.
After 10 years away from the CAMS Australian Rally Championship calendar, the state’s appetite for rallying was evident with thousands turning out to the Friday night Inveresk super special stage, it was deemed an instant hit.
While the event received a large amount of reception and exposure, the action itself was just as entertaining with eventual 2018 ARC champions Eli Evans and Ben Searcy proving too strong for their rivals.
It didn’t go exactly to plan for the Skoda Fabia R5 pilots, with local crew Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis claiming the Inveresk Super Special Stage by less than a second over Harry Bates and John McCarthy, while the Skoda finish in third.
The Contel Communications Subaru WRX began the second day of competition as it finished the first, winning the day’s first stage. However Evans and Searcy bounced back in style – taking out the next 10 stages and winning the day comfortably in the mighty Fabia R5.
Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read finished the day in second place a further four minutes behind the leaders. Though consistency saw the blue Subaru finish in the top three on multiple stages.
Behind the wheel of the other Skoda Fabia R5, Adrian Coppin and Toni Feaver also enjoyed a careful run throughout the day to secure third place.
A horror third stage for Glenney and Sarandis effectively put them out of the running, after finishing 10 minutes behind the leaders.
On the stage earlier, Bates and McCarthy saw their Toyota Yaris fail, coming in 15 minutes behind the Skoda, however the pair were able to claw their way back into the running and score a respectable eighth.
On the second day of action, it was a change of fortune for the local crew, as Glenney and Sarandis steered their way to a day two win, despite only winning the final stage. The bad luck was reserved for Harry Bates and McCarthy in their Toyota Yaris, as they missed three stages across the day, ending their weekend in second last.
Evans and Searcy’s second place on the final day gave them the outright victory, as they continued their charge towards the title.
While Evans and Searcy comfortably sealed the event, Taylor and Read ended the day on equal points with Coppin and Feaver, with both crews sharing second place.