Eli Evans back to defend ARC title at Nat Cap Rally
- 12th February 2014, 10:59pm
With serious doubt that Eli Evans would return to defend his record run in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship, following the withdrawal of Honda Australia, comes confirmation on the release of the National Capital Rally entry list that Evans will reunite with his former Civic Type-R.
“The departure of Honda at the end of last year left us with no manufacturer support, so I’m hugely thankful to Evans Motorsport and Tankformers for giving me the opportunity to come back and defend my title and the winning streak,” said Eli.
Evans heads the outright two-wheel drive entry list which includes a return for both Scott Pedder (Renault Clio) and Brendan Reeves (Mazda2), but interest will focus on the debut in the local Championship of the Citroen DS3’s driven by Tony Sullens and Adrian Coppin.
The Citroen DS3, featuring a turbo-charged 1.6 litre engine, has proven near unstoppable in Europe where it has netted a string of national titles and has proven the stepping-stone for young competitors looking to break into the World Rally Championship.
A two day test for both Coppin and Sullens in Canberra towards the end of last year has both drivers confident but cautious ahead of their competitive debut. “We covered a couple of hundred kilometres in testing and I think we both felt pretty comfortable with how the cars performed,” explained Coppin.
Nathan Quinn will make a surprise arrival in Canberra driving the John Mills owned Peugeot 207, last seen in the hands of Steve Mackenzie at Rally Australia last year.
Mackenzie meanwhile has shelved the unveil of his new G2-spec Ford Fiesta, instead entering Canberra in his proven older model Fiesta. The young Victorian will compete for both outright points as well as for the Kumho Australian Junior Rally Challenge against South Australian Guy Tyler (Renault Clio) and local Canberran driver Rhys Pinter (Ford Fiesta R2).
The VW Polo pair of Michael Boaden and Mick Patton return looking to improve their speed and consistency after some up’s and down’s in 2013, while Victorian Alan Roe debuts his new Ford Focus.
A strong turn out in the Classics will again be lead by four-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates with twelve gravel-spitting rear-wheel drives looking to chase him down. Jeff David will be looking to take the fight up to Bates in his Porsche 911 while father and son team of David and John Hills will run a pair of BDA Escorts.
Six crews will tackle the 4WD National Rally Series, headed by Ritchie Dalton who will have Ken Block’s longtime co-driver alongside in the shape of Alex Gelsomino. Queenslander Mike Bailey will be hot on his tail as will long-time Mitsubishi competitor Gerald Schofield.
NSW and ACT State entries close this week, and with already over twenty entrants registered, the 2014 National Capital Rally is looking to be one of the strongest openings to the new season ever!
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