Tankformers’ Eli Evans and Ben Searcy have taken their third win on-the-trot in the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) in a dramatic finish in Tasmania.
In a dominant display, Evans posted the fastest time on 14 of Subaru Rally Tasmania’s 17 special stages. But it was the first stage of heat two that proved troublesome for the Victorian and saw the win in doubt for a short time.
Overshooting a corner, Evans and Searcy found themselves off the road and unable to restart their Skoda Fabia R5. The error cost them five minutes and almost the round win – the Tankformers crew were issued with an infringement notice from the Clerk of Course for receiving assistance on a special stage and excluded from that stage, relegating them from first to third outright.
Evans and Searcy exercised their right to a stewards hearing post the event, and with the infringement withdrawn, the pair were reinstated as winners.
In a super-tight battle, Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read claimed second with Innate Motorsport and Events’ Adrian Coppin and Toni Feaver in third. Both crews finished the round on equal points, however Taylor prevailed with a faster total event time.
Taylor admitted finding the right balance between aggression and caution today had been difficult.
“In the tricky stuff we were just making sure we were leaving a bit up our sleeve – we probably could have gone harder in a lot of the stages and this afternoon it was getting a bit close with Adrian so we definitely pushed a bit more but we were trying to be a bit sensible too, we didn’t want to go and try and be a hero and make a mistake,” Taylor said.
Coppin also enjoyed the battle with Taylor, and the event.
“We got to the last stage and I think there was just on three seconds separating us so we had a little push and I just spoke to her and so did she and I think there was 0.2 of a second in it so it was awesome,” Coppin said.
“Having a rally here in the centre of Launceston has been awesome… they’ve been so welcoming, the crowd that turned out to the super special stage was amazing, I haven’t seen anything like that at an ARC for years.
“Great roads, great service park, officials have all been friendly, I can’t wait for next year.”
The wet conditions today favoured the brave and heat two winners Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis were certainly that – even with a two minute, 10 second penalty added to their time for late check-in at a control, the Contel Communications crew stormed through the stages to claim the heat by more than two minutes, winning the final stage of the day. The Launceston local was good for fourth outright for the round, recovering from yesterday’s off to bag all-important ARC points.
“I think today we actually found the sweet spot with our new set up,” Glenney said.
“The car worked well, we had some good times and we were able to keep up with the front runners so it was great.”
Lewis Bates and Dale Moscatt had a strong day in the Neal Bates Motorsport Toyota Corolla S2000, fifth fourth in today’s heat and sixth for the round while Marcus and Scott Walkem enjoyed a successful return to national competition in their Peugeot 208 AP4, sixth in heat two and fifth overall.
In ARC2 it was Tasmanians one and two, with Steve Glenney first and Mark Butcher second – Adam Kaplan was third in the Nissan 370Z.
Kaplan and co-driver Aleshia Penney also took out the round in the ARC 2WD class.
The CAMS ARC next travels to South Australia for the Adelaide Hills Rally on 21-23 September.
ARC Top Ten – Heat 2 (provisional)
1. #4 Glenney/Sarandis 1:14:29.9
2. #2 Evans/Searcy 1:16:35.9 (+02:06.0)
3. #5 Coppin/Feaver 1:17:02.0 (+02:32.1)
4. #6 Taylor/Read 1:17:10.2 (+02:40.3)
5. #8 Bates/Moscatt 1:18:17.4 (+03:47.5)
6. #7 Walkem/Walkem 1:21:02.2 (+06:32.3)
7. #9 Butcher/Clarke 1:22:34.2 (+08:04.3)
8. #14 Anear/Maguire 1:29:26.0 (+14:56.1)
9. #11 Kaplan/Penney 1:30:05.0 (+15:35.1)
10. #10 Hayes/Hayes 1:45:51.1 (+31:21.2)
Subaru Rally Tasmania ARC Top 10 (provisional)
1. Eli Evans 75 pts
2. Molly Taylor 60 pts
3. Adrian Coppin 60 pts
4. Steve Glenney 49pts
5. Marcus Walkem 46 pts
6. Lewis Bates 44 pts
7. Mark Butcher 38 pts
8. Adam Kaplan 32 pts
9. Luke Anear 28 pts
10. Ben Hayes 26 pts
View full results here.