Held in the picturesque Barossa Valley, the rally was a mix of shire and forest stages designed to test both driver and car. However with 50mm of rain falling in the region in the two days preceding the event and several of the roads becoming impassable, the organisers were forced to significantly modify the route and double the use of the fast shire roads – a situation that suited Evans. “I’ve rallied on those roads for many years and they reward commitment and speed so it was really exciting to be able to use them more than we have in a long time” he stated.
With the ETS Racing Fuels Subaru in pristine condition following the midyear break, Evans and Searcy were on the pace immediately despite losing some time after an altercation with a kangaroo early in day one. By the night stages, the team had a significant time advantage and were hoping to finish the day with maximum points. A large mob of kangaroos had other ideas however, with the team doing their best to avoid them but unfortunately colliding with yet another roo, severely damaging the front of their Subaru and rapidly losing water. Evans limped through the last stage and was able to return the car to the Evans Motorsport service crew for repairs. “It was less than ideal for us to have encountered so many roo’s today” said Evans. “The car looks terrible and we lost a lot of time, but I guess that’s what happens when you are first car on the road. Hopefully the crew can fix the radiator tonight and we can have a trouble free run tomorrow”.
In the enduring spirit of rally, a new radiator was kindly gifted by the Brendan Reeves Motorsport Team to enable Evans to continue the rally. The Sunday stages again rewarded his commitment to pace notes and with the car repaired and well suited for the roads, the crew dominated the Australian Championship field all day, finishing with 3rd place overall for the weekend and gaining valuable points that have returned them to the head of the leader board in the Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship.
Searcy stated “It’s great to come out of South Australia with the championship lead again. It shows that you can never give up in rallying. Simon worked really hard to get the car over the line on Saturday night after hitting the kangaroo and drove really well on Sunday to do what we had to do”.
The final round of the championship is the mammoth Kennard’s Hire Rally of Australia, in Coffs Harbour from November 17-20. The final round of both the World and Australian rally championships, the event will be the decider for the year, fought out over the demanding roads of the Coffs Coast Hinterland.
*Photo Credit: Peter Whitten