Eli Evans and Ben Searcy survived an eventful Kennards Hire Rally Australia to claim the 2018 Australian Rally Championship title, the former’s fourth and his co-driver’s first.
The Skoda Fabia R5 driver recovered from a broken radiator on the opening day and a puncture on Day 2 to finish the event in sixth.
It was enough to secure the title despite Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis topping the timesheet by 8 minutes 45.8s from Luke Anear and Jon Mitchell, while Andrew Penny and Rhys Llewellyn completed the podium.
Glenney came home ninth on the overall rally rankings to become the top Australian.
“It has been a crazy weekend and it was fantastic to be in the middle of the WRC field,” said Glenney.
Evans was classified 13th overall in the event, which he finished in style by conducting celebration doughnuts at the end of the Wedding Bells Power Stage.
“That was a really strange and bizarre year in the Australian Rally Championship. It was hard fought between three teams,” said Evans.
“We had a nice lead coming into this event but I did everything I could to give it away but we were still in a position today to finish and win the championship and that was what we were able to do.
“I didn’t get the Super Special doughnut right so I had to get the victory doughnut right.”
The title swung towards Evans when nearest rival Harry Bates and John McCarthy retired from the event with a terminal engine issue on Saturday night.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia runner had been in a commanding lead in the rally up until the drama struck.
Despite best efforts to repair the car for today’s action the team were forced to retire.
Bates’ exit followed that of fellow title contenders Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read.
Rally Australia: Outright: Results (Top 10)
|1||GLENNEY/SARANDIS||Skoda Fabia R5||3:26:53.8|
|2||ANEAR/MITCHELL||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+17:51.4|
|3||A.PENNY/LLEWELLYN||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+26:46.2|
|4||DUNN/PRIEST||Subaru Impreza WRX STI||+38:11.9|
|5||E.EVANS/SEARCY||Skoda Fabia R5||+49:48.7|
|7||L.BATES/McLOUGHLIN||Toyota Corolla S2000||+56:03.7|
|8||RAEDEL/CARR||Ford Falcon XR6||+1:17:37.1|
|9||HATTON/LONG||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX||+1:40:00.0|
|10||B.HAYES/C.HAYES||Holden SS Commodore||+2:44:21.9|
Rally Australia: Leg 3: Results
|1||GLENNEY/SARANDIS||Skoda Fabia R5|
|2||E.EVANS/SEARCY||Skoda Fabia R5|
|3||L.BATES/McLOUGHLIN||Toyota Corolla S2000|
|4||HATTON/LONG||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|5||ANEAR/MITCHELL||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|6||A.PENNY/LLEWELLYN||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|7||DUNN/PRIEST||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|8||B.HAYES/C.HAYES||Holden SS Commodore|
|10||RAEDEL/CARR||Ford Falcon XR6|