Eli Evans has moved into the lead of the Australian Rally Championship having collected a second heat win in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.
He and co-driver Ben Searcy won seven of the nine stages which made up Heat 2, with only Harry Bates able to break up their dominance by claiming the other two seats.
The win is Evans’ first since in the CAMS ARC since 2015, and came as the Tankformers-backed driver borrowed a Skoda Fabia R5 due to extensive work on his own Mini Cooper AP4.
“It’s a relief to be honest,” said Evans.
“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.”
Bates salvaged a heat runner-up finish from his rally after rolling on Saturday’s Special Stage 6.
His Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota Yaris AP4 was repaired in time for the previous championship leader to win Saturday evening’s Trade Hire Busselton Super Special Stage which kicked off Heat 2 of the event.
Bates took out another in the forest on the final day, ending the heat 45.8s behind Evans and leaving Western Australia third in the title race.
Steve Glenney (Contel Communications Subaru WRX STI) was third in the heat, from Molly Taylor (Subaru do Motorsport WRX STI) and Adrian Coppin (Yes! Optus Skoda Fabia R5).
Taylor was relieved to find some pace having struggled earlier in the rally.
“Definitely a better day today,” said the 2016 Australian Rally Champion.
“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 (round) podium is what we were aiming for so ultimately we just had to work really, really, really hard for it and we got there.”
Glen Raymond/Kathryn Catford (Sky Refrigeration Subaru WRX STI) won both heats in the ARC2 class.
Round 3 of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship is the Netier National Capital Rally on June 1-3, which doubles as Round 2 of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
Results: Heat 2, Forest Rally (Top 10)
|1||E.EVANS/SEARCY||Skoda Fabia R5||1:04:15.3|
|2||H.BATES/MCCARTHY||Toyota Yaris AP4||+00:45.8|
|3||GLENNEY/SARANDIS||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+01:22.6|
|4||M.TAYLOR/READ||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+02:02.1|
|5||COPPIN/KELLY||Skoda Fabia R5||+02:13.5|
|6||RAYMOND/CATFORD||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+03:16.3|
|8||MARKOVIC/FEAVER||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+05:46.9|
|9||O’DOWD/WILDE||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+06:03.4|
|10||R.DUNKERTON/L.DUNKERTON||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+08:39.1|
Championship points: After Round 2 (Top 10)