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Simon and Sue Evans have today won their third-consecutive Sprint Auto Parts Rally SA and have also secured their third Australian Rally Championship in the process, joining an elite club in Australian rallying history.

For the second year in a row it was an Evans family affair in South Australia with this year’s results mirroring those of 2008 – Simon taking the event and Eli taking out today’s second heat after Simon suffered a puncture half way though today’s group of stages, whilst leading.

In one of the most dramatic heats of the 2009 ARC, Evans flew over the final few stages but couldn’t catch his brother – though he did more than enough to secure the overall event win and the national title.

Toyota driver Glen Raymond and co-driving brother Mathew finished the heat and the rally third after only being overhauled by Evans on the final, 20km Eden high stage during his inspired charge.

The result sees Simon and Sue win their third title, joining an illustrious list of only six drivers to have won three or more Australian Rally Championships (list below).

It was also the first national championship for a Mitsubishi driver – co-driver combination since South Australian Ed Ordynski won the 1990 ARC, some 19 years ago.

“This is a result for the team, they have worked so hard to get there,” Simon Evans said.

“It’s so good to have all of this success at this event – it’s fantastic and a huge congratulations has to go to the organisers.

“This (Rally win and Championship win) is all down to the incredible support from this team and the great car we are driving. This also couldn’t have worked without the support of Dad. When the Toyota pull-out happened he didn’t have to add another car but he said he couldn’t have us sitting around when everyone else is out having fun – and here we are.  

“Driving the Mitsubishi was great because it was something new to me, I had to adapt to the car which was a challenge but it’s worked so well.

“Sue (Evans, wife and co-driver) has been as incredible as ever. It’s a great feeling.”

“It’s amazing to have this family feeling here this weekend,” Sue Evans added.

“It was amazing to go out and compete so closely with Eli and Glen, and to go back and see Simon’s Mum and Dad so emotional after the rally. I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of happy Evans’s across Australia right now!”

Queenslanders Steve Shepheard and John McCarthy finished fourth overall after posting a strong heat result today in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X whilst fellow Queensland combination Ryan and Rebecca Smart completed the top five.

South Australians Matt Selley and Claire Ryan, driving a Subaru, finished sixth outright and also won the South Australian Rally Championship round that was held at the same time as the ARC national event.

This year’s Sprint Auto Parts Rally SA was another successful event and injected thousands of dollars into the local community from more than 20 interstate teams and more than 50 crews entered in total.

Heat 2 Recap – Sprint Auto Parts Rally SA.

After Simon & Sue Evans dominated yesterday, today’s second heat was one of the most dramatic of the year.

Neal Bates was electrifying on the first two stages of heat two held Saturday night at the Coates Super Special in Angaston, putting the disappointments of his heat one non-finish – and the end of his campaign for a fifth ARC title – behind him to win both stages with super quick times.

Sadly for the now outgoing four-time champion, his campaign ended early today when his car failed to start in Parc Ferme’ this morning.

“It went fine last (Saturday) night and we were set for a big go today,” said a clearly dejected Bates.

“It’s run faultlessly all year so I’m at a loss to explain it. It’s obviously a very disappointing way to end what had been a good year for us.”

With Bates gone, Eli Evans went on the offensive first this morning, winning SS13 (Cromer) over his brother and Glen Raymond with a good enough time that lifted him to the heat lead.

Simon struck back on SS14 however, leaping to a seven second heat lead with a stage win on the third run though the 12.5km stage though the Mount Crawford Forest. In a good arm-wrestle between the
teammates Eli retaliated on SS15 (honeysuckle) to beat Justin Dowel’s Mitsubishi by just 0.3seconds – with Simon in third another 1.2 seconds back.

Dowell would drop down the order during today’s heat after losing time after a hard landing following a jump damaged the intercooler pipes and front end of his Evo Lancer.

The complexion of the day changed again, however, on the following stage – the 12km run though SS16 (Kanmantoo).

Simon Evans Mitsubishi suffered a puncture, dropping him thirty seconds that, when combined by a storming stage win by Eli, dropped him to third overall some thirty seconds behind the leader and twenty behind the Raymond Toyota.

The retaliation came quickly. Evans won the following stage (SS17, Charleston Plus) by nearly ten seconds over Raymond and Eli Evans to slice the lead back to just 22.3 seconds as the field entered the final service and regroup at Mount Pleasant.

Simon Evans continued his love affair with the Mount Crawford stage – he won all four runs though this weekend – this afternoon pulling another 3.5 seconds from the lead – leaving him 18.8 from the leader and just .8 behind second-placed Raymond ahead of the final stage.

On the longest stage of the Rally Evans was fastest again by nearly eight seconds, though it wasn’t quite enough to catch his flying brother, who won the heat though had to settle for second in the rally overall.

RESULTS – Heat 2, Sprint Auto Parts Rally SA

1. Evans / Weston (Subaru Impreza WRX STi)                 54.04.6
2. Evans / Evans (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)                   + 11.5
3. Raymond / Raymond (Toyota Corolla Group N-P)       + 28.1
4. Shepheard / McCarthy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X)        + 1m38.7
5. Selley / Ryan (Subaru Impreza WRX STi)                     + 2m02.5

RESULTS – (Overall) Sprint Auto Parts Rally SA

1. Evans / Evans (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)                   85
2. Evans / Weston (Subaru Impreza WRX STi)                 79
3. Raymond / Raymond (Toyota Corolla Group N-P)       71
4. Shepheard / McCarthy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X)        46
5. Smart / Smart (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI)                    43

RESULTS – 2009 Australian Rally Championship

1. Evans / Evans (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)&nbsp ;                  379.5
2. Raymond / Raymond (Toyota Corolla Group N-P)       338
3. Bates / Taylor (Toyota Corolla S2000)                         271

All-Time ARC Title Winners

Possum Bourne – 7
Ross Dunkerton – 5
Neal Bates – 4
Simon Evans – 3
Cody Crocker – 3
Colin Bond - 3
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