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Young Victorian driver, Eli Evans, has taken his first round win in the Australian Rally Championship after winning heat two of the Coffs Coast Rally today.

Evans and co-driver, Chris Murphy, put in a mature drive in their Tankformers Subaru Impreza WRX to take the win, ahead of fellow young gun, Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi), with Michael Boaden third in his Lancer Evo 7.

 


British Rally Champion Guy Wilks, in Honda Racing’s Civic Type R, started day two of the Coffs Coast Rally in sensational style with a time on the Bucca long stage only 1.4 seconds behind rally leader Eli Evans. The Civic proved emphatically that front-wheel drive is no barrier to fast stage times in the ARC, however Wilks would later crash his Honda out of the rally.

At the end of the third stage it was Eli Evans, ahead of Simon Evans by 4.5 seconds, with Wilks 9.2 seconds further back in third place.

Neal Bates, the newly crowned ARC champion, was driving faster, but not matching the pace of the front runners, some 21.5 seconds back in fourth place. Michael Guest dropped out with gearbox problems after the first stage of the day.

Local star, Nathan Quinn, said that his local knowledge would not count for too much in Heat 2 with many drivers posting faster times over the same roads. Quinn, in Allied Air-Conditioning Lancer, was in eighth place, 47.4 seconds back from the leaders. Quinn won the NSW Rally Championship round yesterday.

Gearbox failure sidelined Heat 1 winner Simon Evans in the Sherwood. With the TRD driver retiring from the rally the pressure was off his brother, with young gun Glenn Raymond in the ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla moving into second place, with Neal Bates in third.

Eli Evans consolidated his lead over the next few stages, setting himself up for the ARC round win. Bates overtook Raymond to take second place after the McRae’s stage.

The fickle tropical weather in the Coffs Harbour region took hold again with a deluge on the afternoon stages. Crews just completing McRae’s before being the Clerk of the Course, Tony Creer, in consultation with his advisors, made the decision to cancel the last two stages due to continuing rain.  Safety was always paramount in the tough decision.

Eli Evans in the Tankformers Subaru won Heat 2 and the last round of the ARC, with local Nathan Quinn coming second in the round, from a hard charging Michael Boaden.

Bates copped a four minute tyre penalty that took him from second to ninth, elevating Glen Raymond in the Raymond Partners Toyota Corolla to second in Heat 2. Michael Boaden finished third today, with Quinn rounding out the top four.

The support for the Coffs Harbour Rally by the local community, including Allied Air-conditioning/Daikin and other sponsors, was outstanding.

The performance of the weekend was no doubt that of Guy Wilks. If there was a “Man of the Match” award, he would have his name in it. Rally pundits are now scratching their collective heads wondering how a 2WD car could achieve the stage times that he did.

With Australian Rallying dominated by 4WD turbo cars, the performance of the Honda and Wilks has been an eye opener for many in rallying, and hopefully it is the precursor for Honda’s participation in next year’s Australian Rally Championship. 

Photos: Redline Photographics (CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS)

Results, Heat 2, Coffs Coast Rally

1.    E. Evans / C. Murphy, Subaru Impreza WRX, 47m12.2s
2.    G. Raymond / M. Raymond, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +23.9s
3.    M. Boaden / H. Cheers, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, +1m01.7s
4.    N. Quinn / B. Atkinson, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5, +1m17.3s
5.    R. Smart / R. Smart, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, +1m32.7s
6.    S. Lowndes / C. Randell, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, +1m49.1s

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