Unfortunately they lost a significant amount of time when Evans left his helmet on the roof of the rally car, requiring them to return and pick it up. “I was checking the tyre pressures and just plain forgot that my helmet was on the roof. It was a stupid mistake and I was pretty annoyed with myself. All I can do now is hope to make up some time over the rest of the weekend” stated Evans. The mishap dropped them down the leader board to 6th place, leaving the crew the challenge of making up the time on Sunday.
On day two, the ETS Racing Fuels Subaru powered on, gaining significant time back in just two stages. With 8 stages scheduled for Sunday, there was a chance the crew could return to the lead position, however, nature intervened. A strong storm and cold front was predicted to hit the East Coast of Australia and dumped over 70mm of rain in the region of the rally in just four hours. This left the event organisers no choice but to shorten the rally for safety reasons. With the clay roads resembling rivers and creek crossings becoming impassable, Evans and Searcy were leading on stage 11 when they hit a particularly treacherous section of road and lost control of the car, ending up on their roof. “We set some sensational times on Saturday until the unfortunate time penalty and I knew that we had a job to do to claw back the time. Simon was flying on the first two stages on Sunday without any moments or issues until the downpour literally happened as we entered the Cutters Reverse stage, resulting in the roll” Searcy explained.
With the crew unhurt, the car was returned to service park where the Evans Motorsport team were able to make enough repairs under the restart rules to ensure they were classified as finishers, thereby remaining in the fight for the championship. “The team was amazing. We checked the rules and found we were able to be classed as finishers if we drove the car into the final control, so the boys got to work in the pouring rain and made it happen for us. I can’t thank them enough” said Evans.
With the damage less than originally thought, and still in second place in the championship, the Evans Motorsport team will begin preparations for the next round over the mid season break. With repairs and further development of the car on the cards, Evans and Searcy will look towards the penultimate round of the championship, the Lightforce Rally of South Australia on 9th – 11th September.