10 out of 10 wins for Eli Evans and Honda
- 14th July 2013, 9:44pm
Eli Evans and Glen Weston continue to re-write the record books having today claimed their tenth victory in a row at the International Rally of Queensland. Scott Pedder had pushed Evans hard throughout the weekend until drama struck on the penultimate stage when Pedder went off the road.
“I don’t know why I do these rallies, it’s so stressful!” exclaimed a relieved and exhausted Evans at the event finish. “I don’t think the win has sunk in yet, I have spent the last two days constantly worried about Scott (Pedder), so to have him go off is surreal.”
The pace was red hot between the pair all weekend, Evans taking a second or two off Pedder, then Pedder hitting back, and while Evans held a more than 20 second lead overnight the pace was unrelenting throughout today’s stages.
“I knew I had to press on,” explained Eli. “I knew if we took it easy even for a split second he (Scott) could have gotten ahead. I also knew something had to give though, something was going to happen to either Scott or myself, and in the end it was Scott who hit trouble.”
“Scott Pedder is without a doubt the meanest competitor I’ve ever competed against, he never gives up and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute rallying against him this season!” Eli added.
Pedder had occupied second place, but with his charge blunted that allowed Renault Sport teammate Tom Wilde into his place. It seems fitting for Wilde who today celebrates his 26th birthday.
“A really tough event but we got through,” said Tom. “I was conscious to keep a consistent pace over the weekend, I knew we wouldn’t be able to match Eli or Scott, so I was happy to get through.”
“We leave this weekend with a heap of points and that’s great for our Championship campaign. I started the weekend aiming to leave in a better position in the points race and that’s exactly what we’ve managed to do.”
Disappointment on the one hand for one Pedder but elation for another, with Mark Pedder picking up the pieces to finish third. “A 1-3 finish for Honda and fantastic to be back on the podium,” he said.
“This weekend was a total battle of attrition. After recce I knew these roads would be punishing and so tricky, so I knew if I drove with caution it could pay off and it has!” Mark added.
Despite the disappointment of dropping out of contention Scott Pedder would get going again and ended the rally in fourth behind his brother. “Hugely disappointing, we just came into a tight uphill hairpin and I think I hit a big rut which sent us off the outside of the corner and off the road,” explained a downbeat Pedder.
“To make it worse we got bogged and as we were trying to get the car out I had climbed into the boot to try to get some traction. Dale (Moscatt, co-driver) was driving and as he went forwards I tried to get out and caught my right foot between the spare and the wheel nut gun. I think I’ve sprained it, I hope it’s just a sprain!”
Feeling the pain Pedder opted to let Moscatt drive the car on the transports between the penultimate and final stage, and then into service and across the podium.
“Both Eli and I pushed so hard this weekend, so something had to give eventually. The most disappointing thing is the points we gave away to Eli now, he’s probably two-thirds of a rally up on us now, so unless he has a major issue in one of the next two events it’s not looking good,” Scott added.
A fine fifth for West Australian Nicholas Box, the pace continuing to build from his Nissan 370Z as he makes forward progress with the development event by event.
“We had braking issues yesterday that we fixed this morning. The car is going well, we’ve made some suspension changes and made it a lot less nervous,” Box stated.
While Mick Patton played it cautious to claim sixth for the weekend, the Canberran driver playing it safe having seen his fellow VW drivers Michael Boaden and Justin Dowel sidelined, with Luke Page in his Toyota Corolla the final ECB ARC front runner in seventh.
Bitter disappointment once again for Brendan Reeves when he stopped on SS18, the Mazda2 suffering another broken driveshaft, Reeves imploring his team to investigate the cause and to rapidly find a solution to the continued problem.
Meanwhile after burning the midnight oil to rebuild his engine Jack Monkhouse made it to the final stage of the day only to once again grind to a halt.
In the Asia-Pacific standings Finn Esapekka Lappi drove a flawless rally in his Skoda Fabia S2000 to win by a massive margin, but it was the stand out performance of Adrian Coppin who brought his Ford Fiesta R2 home in second that stunned everyone, including Adrian himself.
“When I came here this weekend I never expected this at all!” he beamed. “I entered the APRC instead of the ARC to get that International experience, and I’d hoped to get 2WD honors, but to come second is incredible!”
Another Australian crew, Simon and Margot Knowles finished third, flying the flag for Queensland. “Great result, and we’ve managed to win the Pacific Cup. We planned to enter the first three rallies of the APRC to win the Cup, so to achieve that result on home soil is very special.”
In the Classic category Neal Bates continued his start to finish domination, giving young son Harry the chance to stand on the top step of the podium to spray the champagne on his very first outing in the ECB ARC.
“Pretty happy how it went,” said Harry. “Dad was pretty patient with me all weekend!”
Local Ryan Smart finished second, albeit a distant second to Bates. “When I started the weekend I thought I’d be happy if we could get within 2km a second of Neal and that’s what we managed to achieve, so with that in mind I end the rally in second very happy,” Ryan stated.
Another strong performance in the Classics by Clay Badenoch, steering his bright yellow Toyota Corolla to third behind Bates and Smart.
John Mitchell maintained his lead to claim the National 4WD Challenge in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo ahead of Mike Bailey and Richie Dalton, both of whom were also steering Mitsubishi’s.
And last of all Cody Crocker once again mounted the top step of the podium to celebrate victory in the Side-by-Side Challenge after arch rival Michael Guest suffered a roll over, with Iain Hughes second and Nathan Chives third.
“A pretty rough rally, but that’s what we love in our car, hitting all those bumps and jumps and looking at all the rally cars that have broken down littering the side of the road,” Cody said.
On a somber note a tragic accident on stage 14 saw one of the Queensland Rally Championship crews suffer a high-speed accident. In a joint statement from CAMS and the International Rally of Queensland it was confirmed that the co-driver of the car was killed in the crash.
The driver was reported to be in a critical condition and was airlifted to a Brisbane hospital.
CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos made a brief statement on the podium: “CAMS and the International Rally of Queensland are extremely saddened by the loss of a valued member of the motorsport community. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to the family and friends of both members at this difficult time.”
The entire rally community passes on its condolences to the family and friends of the co-driver, while the best wishes are offered to the driver and his family on the hope of a swift recovery.
The East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship now takes an eight week break in the lead up to the next Round at Rally Australia, held on the NSW north coast at Coffs Harbour over the weekend of 14th-15th September.
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