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Twice Australian rally champion Simon Evans has rejected criticism of the Australian Rally Championship saying the series is alive and kicking and will produce some of the closest competition in years, at the same time announcing he will switch to a Mitsubishi for the remaining rounds of this year’s championship.

Evans is back in business and eager to add a third title to his name despite the loss of his Toyota works drive and will continue his assault on the 2009 Australian Rally Championship with a family team in a potent Mitsubishi Evo IX alongside his younger brother Eli in a Subaru starting at the Rally of Canberra on March 7 and 8.

The switch from Toyota to Mitsubishi has come on the back of the shut down of the Corolla rally program in Australia but Evans believes the new family team will be the leading contender for the 2009 Championship and means the ARC will be an even better contest.

“Mate there are still more cars contesting the ARC than there are the Carrera Cup, at least we still have a championship,” said Evans referring to the recent collapse of the Porsche racing category.

“Some people are preaching doom and gloom about rallying but we still have a quality field and the competition in the remaining rounds is going to be really intense,” he added.

“Toyota may have been in for 19 years but there were no works teams in the ARC for much of the 1980s and it survived and thrived, as it will again.”

“I am sure we will have a fantastic battle with my old boss Neal Bates while my brother Eli will be no pushover and can never be discounted,” he says.

“Our team has a lot of experience and is a very slick operation as are many of the top teams in the ARC, we might be all privateers but it is a very professional series,” he adds.

Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Rob Chadwick said the company was delighted that a two times Australian Rally Champion has chosen Mitsubishi as his vehicle of choice for his assault on the 2009 Championship.

“Simon is obviously an exciting driver and will again be a contender for the title in his Lancer and we wish him good luck,” Chadwick added

Evans will run the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX while his brother Eli will continue with his Subaru WRX STi, the two brothers being supported by their father Peter Evans in a privateer team.

Simon will run under the Simons Builders banner while Eli will run with support from Tankformers with the two-car team based at Pakenham in Melbourne.

The Simons Builders Evo IX is the same car used by Scott Pedder in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in 2008.

“Its back to the future really - we ran with the family team up until 2004 when we were drafted into the Toyota operation so it will be familiar territory and I am really looking forward to it only this time in a Lancer.”

“Canberra is always a great rally and I can assure you I will be attacking from the very start, its ten tenths or nothing for me, and the added challenge will be getting used to the Evo,” said Evans.
Simon’s wife Sue will continue to fulfil co-driving duties for her husband, the team becoming a formidable combination over the last few years.

‘Susie is the strength behind this team and she will play a critical role in organising the operation for the rest of the year,” says Simon.

Evans is currently second in the ARC points standings after taking a close fought second to Neal Bates in the swan song for the Toyota TRD works team in Tasmania in mid February. Evans is just seven points behind Bates while Eli Evans is a further 11 points down in third

The Rally of Canberra will be contested over almost 500km and 10 special stages in the forests around the National Capital on March 7 and 8.

The ARC will comprises six drivers championship rounds as well as an additional Manufacturers championship round at the WRC Repco Rally Australia in September.
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