Australian Rally Champion Eli Evans gives us his top 10 predictions for Round 1
Although I won’t be in control of a rally car this weekend, I have control of the keyboard. Look out! Here are my top 10 predictions for round 1 this weekend.
Round 1 of the 2016 the Kuhmo Tyre Australian rally championship begins this weekend at the Quit Forest rally south of Perth. This year we see the inclusion of 4wd rally cars back into the outright category with some old and some new faces ready to fight for the 2016 title. Here are my predictions of how the top 10 will look for Round 1.
#1 – Simon Evans
4 time ARC champ is hard to ignore. Simon debuts a brand new (old) 1998 Impreza rally car. Built to the PRC regulations, this is a very cool car. Fans will love it, Rivals will fear it. Being car 1 is a disadvantage for most drivers when rally in the Nannup region, but there is one thing the Simons likes and thats a challenge. Simon will lead early and when he gets a look at the 2nd pass on stages his lead will increase along with his smile.
#2 – Tom Wilde
Back into the ARC for Tom which is great to hear. Teams up this year with Maximum motorsport who are known for building nice cars. Tom is a local to Nannup forests which goes well with the fact that he is a very good driver. 2nd place would be a great start with a lot of stiff completion in arrears.
#3 – Mark Pedder
Mark is running the 208 Maxi car which has had a lot of improvements in the off-season. This package has huge potential. Mark is smooth and consistent driver and rarely makes mistakes. Reliability for the car is the key, now in its second year of development I think a good result is not far off.
#4 – Molly Taylor
Flying the Subaru banner this year in the brand new WRX STI, Molly has factory support from Subaru now which is great news for the ARC. Molly was fast in WA last year but lacks 4wd experience, she has the ability to pull out outright speed when needed. New car and new team with Les Walkden. One to watch.
#5 – Justin Dowel
Justin runs the Hyundai i20 Proto this year. Rumours of big improvements in handling made in the off-season. Justin drives well when confident in his rally car, When this happens we will see some impressive speed.
#6 – Harry Bates
Running in a proven package this year, nobody knows his S2000 Corolla like his team boss (Dad) Neal Bates. Harry has impressed many including myself with his mature driving and great car control. This is the first time for Harry in WA which is a tough event. Steep learning curve for him but should do well. His Corolla is normally aspirated and light, I think the turbo’s will have the advantage on the loose Perth surface.
#7 – Dylan King
Dylan is a spectacular young driver but is geographically challenged because he is from the west coast, this is why we haven’t seen him at many ARC’s over the years. Watch out for a giant killing performance in his older Impreza. Don’t miss him in the forest.
#8 – Doug Tostevin
Aggressive driving style and experience driver. Don’t be surprise if we see some top 3-5 stage times over the weekend. We need to get Doug to more ARC’s as he is fast enough to mix with ARC regulars.
#9 – Adrian Coppin
In the sister car to Harry (S2000 Corolla). Adrian is jumping into a car that he has never rallied before and will learn a lot this weekend. He is motivated to improve every rally which will happen. Consistent run will see him finish high up the leader board and take a bag of valuable points.
#10 – Brad Markovic
The great news is that he has committed to the full ARC program this year which he will become a better driver for. The top 10 positions are going to be hard fought, Brad is a smart driver that will be ready to pounce.
Keep an eye on
Ross Dunkerton –
Back in an outright machine for 2016, Ross was one of the best in his day but………..
Exciting to have him back
Mike Young –
Enters the state championship. Mike can drive very standard Subaru’s way too fast! Will be interesting to compare his times to the ARC guys.