The forests surrounding the nation’s capital are always a welcome inclusion on the CAMS Australia Rally Championship’s (ARC) calendar for its picturesque yet challenging stages.
And in 2018, the Netier National Capital Rally did not disappoint.
Ahead of last year’s ARC third round, the hype surrounded the two new Skoda Fabia R5s and legendary Australian co-driver Coral Taylor return to the ARC alongside Lewis Bates.
During the weekend, the two major talking points had contrasting weekends with Lewis crashing out, while both Skodas ended the weekend on the podium.
For Lewis, an awkward landing over a jump towards the end of SS2 Hibernian 1 saw him break an oil line on his Toyota Corolla S2000 and retire from the event -a disappointing way to end to his home rally and Taylor’s grand return.
Meanwhile, Eli Evans and Ben Searcy continued the form that had won them the previous round to take out the opening three stages before Harry Bates and John McCarthy managed to grab three of the next four stages.
Harry’s fight back didn’t last long with Evans winning the day’s final two stages. To make matters worst, the Toyota Yaris AP4 blew a turbo on special stage eight, dropping three minutes and limping through the last stage effectively ending any chance of a win.
While the Skoda of Evans was leading the way, Contel Communications’ Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis were not far behind in their Subaru WRX, the second Skoda piloted by Adrian Coppin and Glen Weston occupied third.
With a point to prove on day two, Harry got on the front foot claiming the first stage and reduce the gap by half a minute, but his comeback was short-lived as Evans took out the remaining five stages to claim his second consecutive round victory.
In the battle for runner-up, Glenney managed to extend his lead in second place over Coppin after finishing ahead of him in the first three stages of the day.
All Glenney had to do to claim second was finish on pace in the final three stages, while Coppin needed some serious luck to go his way if he was to be a chance.
And luck Coppin got.
In the third last stage of the day, the WRX lost most of its power forcing Glenney to limp his way through the final two stages, allowing Coppin to sneak ahead of him and claim his first podium for the year.
With Harry Bates and John McCarthy coming in fourth, 2016 champion Molly Taylor alongside Malcolm Read rounded out the top five.
Only two other crews completed the event with Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney in the Nissan 370z finishing above Haowen Chu and Pete Hellwig in the Ford Fiesta.