Eli Evans sweeps to victory in Queensland
Eli Evans has taken the points lead in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship after a dominant weekend at the International Rally of Queensland which saw him win both legs.
By the finish ramp Eli had produced a margin of almost seven minutes over second placed Adrian Coppin, who himself had a more than two minute gap to third placed Molly Taylor.
On another tough day in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Tony Sullens was the first to hit drama when the Citroen driver for the second day had his car drop a lot of time after struggling after a water splash.
Eli Evans was quick out of the blocks, but being chased hard by brother Simon who had failed to finish yesterday’s opening Leg. The pair traded times over the opening two stages to be split by just 2.2 seconds.
The second stage was to spell the end of Harry Bates, who once again found the limits of the driveshafts in his Toyota Corolla.
Reports began to filter through that Simon Evans was having gearshift problems, then he smashed out a fastest time on the final stage before lunch to go ahead in the intra-Evans battle.
With four stages making up the afternoon the action unfolded relatively smoothly for the top runners, with Eli and Simon continuing to swap stage times, and Sullens running wide and requiring the assistance of spectators to get him going again.
By the finish Eli Evans had stayed out of trouble and took a spectacular win. “Three rallies and three most stage wins, we’ll take that!” he beamed on the podium.
“The DS3 ran faultlessly again and we had a great weekend. I threw trees at it, had it up on two wheels, and went through water splashes. I’m just happy I’m able to give Citroen the results they were after.”
In the Championship points race Eli’s result has seen him head Molly Taylor by a slender 8-point buffer.
“Molly’s doing a great job but I think I’ve got her measure now. The pressure is on her now to see if she can maintain the speed,” said Evans.
In the 4WD battle Mark Pedder claimed the win by over nine minutes from Gerald Schofield, Patton third despite failing to finish the day.
“It’s been such a tough weekend,” said Pedder.
“So to get here and get the win feels great. I don’t think we had a single clean stage, but I can see the potential in the car and that’s what matters.”
In the two-horse race for the Classics, between the BMW of Tony Quinn and the Toyota of Clay Badenoch, it was the Toyota drivers who came out on top in the end. “It’s been a long, tough event for sure,” he said. “We had such a good battle with Tony that was really enjoyable.”
In the Side-by-Side battle looked like it was heading the way of Michael Guest, who dominated arch rival Cody Crocker yesterday, only for Guest’s Can-Am to suffer a drive belt failure.
“Guesty’s certainly got the speed this year, but we’ve got the reliability and our Polaris served us well again this weekend,” said Crocker.
In the Asia Pacific Rally Championship segment of the event, Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand emerged victorious after a great battle with his Team MRF Skoda Fabia team-mate Gaurav Gill. The battle ending when the Indian was sidelined with engine issues.
“It was a good fight and it’s a shame it ended in retirement [for Gill],”said Tidemand. “But for sure it’s good for the championship and I have learned a lot on this rally, because it’s been a new surface… so for me, it’s been really good.
The East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship enters a mid-season break before ramping up for the biggest event of the year, Rally Australia, our local Round of the World Rally Championship from the 10th to 13th September.
VIDEO: Sunday wrap