(16/11/2013) THE 2013 East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship has finished with another win for Eli Evans and Honda at Rally Victoria today.
Extending his unbeaten run to 12 consecutive round victories was a fitting way for Evans and his team to end Honda’s four-year participation in the series. Driving the factory-backed Honda Jazz, Evans hasn’t been beaten to the top step of the podium in two seasons.
“I’m speechless! I’m very proud of everything today, everything this weekend and everything this year. I’m so thankful to the Evans Motorsport team and Honda Australia,” Evans said.
“Twelve wins in a row now, so hopefully we can get something together for next year and come out to try to extend that to 13.”
Brendan Reeves, who had new co-driver Glenn Macneall alongside in the rallyschool.com.au Mazda2, pressured Evans all weekend.
Reeves was within striking distance heading into this afternoon’s closing forest stages but struck a rear puncture with 8km of the Limberlost stage to run.
“Disappointing to get the flat, but overall a really great weekend for the team. The Mazda has been great from the very start and it’s nice to have a consistent end to the year and finish the season on a high,” Reeves said.
Third place for the day went down to the wire with Glen Raymond holding the smallest of leads over Renault’s Tom Wilde heading into the final 2.3km Lardner Park stage.
Raymond started the stage with a 0.6 second lead but was out-gunned by the front-wheel drive Renault of Wilde, who leapt ahead and finished the Heat in third 4.8 seconds up.
The result pushed Wilde ahead of his Renault teammate Scott Pedder to claim second outright in the Championship behind Evans.
Raymond might have slipped back to fourth but could take consolation in securing the rallyschool.com.au Australian Junior Championship, his primary aim for the weekend.
Mick Patton brought his VW Polo home in fifth ahead of the unique front-wheel drive converted Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 of Henry Nott.
There was massive disappointment for both Pedder brothers, with Mark Pedder stopping his Honda with a broken throttle cable, while for the second day running Scott Pedder found himself stranded on the roadside.
“Yesterday we had a loose steering column and while I was distracted checking the bolts were going to hold, I looked down, lost my concentration, slid wide on some really slippery clay and slid the car off the stage. The off broke the lower control arm,” Scott said.
“Today almost the very same thing, I was just on the wrong part of the road, clipped a rock that was embedded in the edge of the road and broke the brand new control arm we fitted last night!
“Am I disappointed? Not really. I’m an attacking driver. Unfortunately I’ve probably had more bad luck this year than others, but I’d prefer to go all out than go slowly for a third or fourth.”
In the 4WD National series, John Mitchell continued his fine form to claim the day ahead of a hard-charging Ritchie Dalton, the Irishman securing enough points against his primary challengers Mike Bailey and Mick Harding to take second in the points.
The Classics produced some of the best action of the weekend with ARC returnee Ben Barker providing plenty of spectacular sideways action in his BMW 320is, until his gearbox expired, allowing Neal Bates to comfortably lead home the field.
After his off-road headache yesterday, Bates was unable to secure enough points to take the win for the weekend, which went the way of local Ford Escort ace Grant Walker.
After disappointment yesterday In the Side-by-Side Challenge, Michael Guest blasted out of the blocks to show arch-rival Cody Crocker a clean pair of heels.
“It was great to smoke them all today, we pushed really hard to make up for yesterday,” Guest said.
“Yesterday a brake fitting came loose, we dropped all the fluid and we were driving the last couple of stages with no brakes. Into a hairpin it just tripped over and rolled onto its roof. No damage, just a disappointing, because we had the pace.”
Iain Hughes was the star of the weekend in the SxS series, however, claiming stage wins ahead of both Crocker and Guest.