Eli Evans and Ben Searcy have continued their winning ways at round four of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, taking out heat one of Subaru Rally Tasmania in Launceston today.
Evans dominated in tricky conditions, winning the heat by more than four minutes, setting the fastest time on each of the day’s ten stages.
Evans was justifiably thrilled with his and Searcy’s performance.
“We had a really great day today, to win every forest stage today is something I am pretty proud of,” he said.
“We were happy with our pace, we were substantially faster than the rest of the field so very positive going into tomorrow.”
Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcom Read finished a strong second, with Adrian Coppin and Toni Feaver third in the Innate Motorsport and Events Skoda Fabia R5.
After a tough few rounds, Taylor was pleased with second outright.
“Really, really good day for us, really, really challenging, we found it quite tricky out there to get a good rhythm,” Taylor said.
“The conditions and grip level seemed to change on every corner but we enjoyed the challenge. Some awesome bits of road out there, it’s pretty fun.”
Coppin had been disappointed with his first pass of today’s stages but gained confidence as the day went on.
“We made some changes to the car and straight away after the first pass of this afternoon’s loop I felt the confidence coming back,” Coppin said.
“I’m sort of where I would like to be which is not too far behind Harry and Eli so really happy with that pace and hoping we can take it into tomorrow.”
In their first ARC event in 12 months, Marcus and Scott Walkem impressed in their newly-built Peugeot 208 AP4, finishing today’s heat in fourth position.
“It’s been a big learning curve,” Marcus explained.
“We’d only done about 40 kilometres in the car before today. This car is left hand drive as well so that’s been another thing to learn but we are here now and we’ve had a good day, so it’s all good.”
It was a difficult day for some of the main ARC contenders.
Frosty roads challenged competitors early, with Launceston local Steve Glenney getting caught out on the day’s second stage, sliding off the road in the Contel Communications Subaru WRX STi. Glenney and co-driver Andy Sarandis missed the morning stages while their crew fixed the damage to the car. The pair were able to rejoin the event after the midday service.
Despite being Evans closest rival all day on stage times, electrical issues with the Yaris AP4 robbed Harry Bates and John McCarthy of a good result, seeing them lose 14 minutes on the opening stage of the day. The Toyota Genuine Parts crew finished in eighth.
In ARC2, Tasmanian Mark Butcher led the way, closely followed by Adam Kaplan in the two-wheel-drive Nissan 370Z. Ben Hayes, in the Holden Commodore SS, was in third.
Subaru Rally Tasmania continues tomorrow with heat two taking competitors to the north of Launceston and the Retreat Forest, which is known for its fast and open forestry roads.
The final stage returns to the Lisle State Forest, which will also be the longest and most demanding in the event.
ARC Top 10 (provisional)
1. #2 Evans/Searcy 1:18:20.4
2. #6 Taylor/Read 1:22:27.2 (+04:06.8)
3. #5 Coppin/Feaver 1:24:24.8 (+06:04.4)
4. #7 Walkem/Walkem 1:27:29.8 (+09:09.4)
5. #8 Bates/Moscatt 1:29:39.7 (+11:19.3)
6. #9 Butcher/Clarke 1:30:55.0 (+12:34.6)
7. #11 Kaplan/Penney 1:32:10.3 (+13:49.9)
8. #3 Bates/McCarthy 1:34:24.1 (+16:03.7)
9. #10 Hayes/Hayes 1:38:13.8 (+19:53.4)
10. #14 Anear/Maguire 1:39:25.5 (+21:05.1)
ARC2 Top 5 (provisional)
1. #9 Butcher/Clarke 1:30:55.0
2. #11 Kaplan/Penney 1:32:10.3 (+01:15.3)
3. #10 Hayes/Hayes 1:38:13.8 (+07:18.8)
4. #12 Raedel/Philips 1:48:21.7 (+17:26.7)
5. #4 Glenney/Sarandis 1:41:18.4 (4 missed stages)