Tankformers’ Eli Evans and Ben Searcy have completed a clean sweep of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Western Australia, winning both heats and 15 of 19 stages to claim maximum points in round two of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC).
Evans’ victory at WA’s Forest Rally, his third time on the top step at this event, handed him a slim five-point lead in the championship, ahead of Steve Glenney in second and Harry Bates in third.
Evans’ last ARC round win was at the Scouts’ Rally in South Australia in October 2015, with Glen Weston in the co-driver’s seat. Evans and Weston went on to take out the CAMS Australian Rally Championship that year.
Contel Communications Steve Glenney produced a strong drive to claim second outright in only his second appearance at the event, and his first in 12 years. Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read improved throughout the weekend to grab third place.
Evans was relieved to be back in the winner’s circle.
“It’s a relief to be honest,” he said.
“I haven’t won a rally for nearly three years, since 2015. It’s been a struggle for us, a few different cars along the way. But I feel like I’ve got the monkey off my back.
“Running an R5 this weekend was a big responsibility in terms of everyone expected us to win and it’s proven that it’s a fast car.
“I knew it was a great package and I wanted to do it justice this weekend and I’m happy with how I drove it.”
Runner-up Glenney enjoyed his return to the unique WA roads.
“How good are these roads? I love them,” Glenney said.
“It’s so cool to link one corner into another into another one. When you find the rhythm it’s really rewarding.”
When asked about earning a potential ‘bridesmaid’ tag after second at The Courier Eureka Rally and at Targa Tasmania last weekend, Glenney was unconcerned.
“No, it’s about consistency isn’t it?” he said.
“I’m still finding my feet. I’ve just come from tarmac last week with a h-pattern gearbox and there were times this weekend when I had my arms and legs going everywhere…It’s a great opportunity Craig has given me to drive this car…just trying to keep it neat and tidy and find some more speed.”
Filling the final step of the podium, Taylor was pleased with the improvements in the Subaru WRX STI over the course of the event.
“Definitely a better day today,” Taylor said.
“We regrouped in service and the boys changed a couple of things we thought might be the issue and thankfully it all went well today.
“A podium is what we were aiming for so ultimately we just had to work really, really, really hard for it and we got there.”
Rounding out the top five were Glen Raymond and Kate Catford in the Sky Refrigeration Subaru WRX STI and Harry Bates and John McCarthy in the Toyota Yaris AP4.
Raymond also took out the ARC2 class, ahead of Brad Markovic and Ross Dunkerton.
Next stop for the CAMS Australian Rally Championship is the Netier National Capital Rally in Canberra on 1-3 June, an event that also doubles as a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
CAMS ARC HEAT TWO TOP TEN (provisional)
1. #4 EVANS/SEARCY 1:04:15.3
2. #2 BATES/MCCARTHY 1:05:01.1 (+00:45.8)
3. #3 GLENNEY/SARANDIS 1:05:37.9 (+01:22.6)
4. #5 TAYLOR/READ 1:06:17.4 (+02:02.1)
5. #7 COPPIN/KELLY 1:06:28.8 (+02:13.5)
6. #6 RAYMOND/CATFORD 1:07:31.6 (+03:16.3)
7. #10 BATES/MOSCATT 1:08:28.3 (+04:13.0)
8. #9 MARKOVIC/FEAVER 1:10:02.2 (+05:46.9)
9. #14 O’DOWD/WILDE 1:10:18.7 (+06:03.4)
10. #12 DUNKERTON/DUNKERTON 1:12:54.4 (+08:39.1)
FOREST RALLY EVENT PLACINGS AFTER HEAT TWO – TOP TEN (provisional)
1. ELI EVANS/BEN SEARCY – 81 PTS
2. STEVE GLENNEY/ANDY SARANDIS – 64 PTS
3. MOLLY TAYLOR/MALCOLM READ – 52 PTS
4. GLEN RAYMOND/KATE CATFORD – 50 PTS
5. HARRY BATES/JOHN MCCARTHY – 41 PTS
=6. BRAD MARKOVIC/TONI FEAVER – 38 PTS
=6. LEWIS BATES/DALE MOSCATT – 38 PTS
8. JOHN O’DOWD/TOM WILDE – 32 PTS
9. ADRIAN COPPIN/ERIN KELLY – 31 PTS
10. ROSS DUNKERTON/LISA DUNKERTON 26 PTS
2018 CAMS ARC DRIVER POINTSCORE – TOP TEN (provisional, after two rounds)
1. Eli Evans – 137 points
2. Steve Glenney – 132 points
3. Harry Bates – 122 points
4. Molly Taylor – 94 points
5. Lewis Bates – 86 points
6. Glen Raymond – 80 points
7. Brad Markovic – 76 points
8. Adrian Coppin – 65 points
9. John O’Dowd – 54 points
10. Andrew Penny – 47 points