All eyes will be on Victoria’s multiple Australian Rally Champion Eli Evans when he lines up under the starters flag for round 1 of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship in Ballarat on Friday.
The Evans Motorsport team will debut Australia’s first new rally car built to the AP4 specifications, a Mini Cooper. The car will be run by Evan’s team.
“We could have run a Citroen, Peugeot or a Mini, but we thought the Mini was cool. It is something different and it has a bit of a cult following that we hope to bring to rallying.” Eli Evans said.
The car started life in Australia before being stripped to a chassis and shipped to New Zealand for Force Motorsport to modify to meet the new AP4 regulations. Back in Australia, and the Evans team have installed a 1.6 litre turbo-charged engine that will produce better than 300hp and reportedly has strong torque characteristics plus all the other components needed in a modern 4WD rally car.
Like all motorsport, the five (5) event ARC program, isn’t a cheap exercise and Evans hopes the result will be worth it.
“To build an outright AP4 car you are looking in excess of $250,000 to do it absolutely right”
Expectations are high among rally fans and many believe that the Mini will be the car to beat this weekend. But at this point Evans is playing down his chances.
“I’ve got so many unknowns. I’m up against it, but that’s what excites me. I feel I have done the two-wheel drive thing, had great success and it’s time to move on.”
The Eureka Rally marks the return of the Australian Championship to Ballarat after a 46 year absence.
The rally gets underway with a ceremonial start on Friday the 17th of March at 5pm in Ballarat’s Bridge Mall. The crews are then set to hit the forests in anger on Saturday morning with 220kms of special stages across the weekend.