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Honda’s Eli Evans will start this week’s International Rally of Queensland in a prime position, he leads the ECB ARC by 29 points, and he’s ready to use his position of power to determine how hard to push his rivals.

“I start the rally with a points buffer, a small buffer, but still I’m not the one chasing,” said Eli who has won all three Rounds staged this year.

“It means Scott (Pedder) and Brendan (Reeves) are having to chase, so they have no option but to go flat out. I’m leading, so I can chose to either go out hard and set the pace, or hold back and feel a little more comfortable.”

Queensland is regarded as an extremely tough rally, with Evans’ himself succumbing to a broken driveshaft and a bent suspension strut in previous years, so he starts fully expecting danger around every corner.

“You just never know what to expect in Queensland. The roads are extremely hard packed and that means the cars just take a serious beating as they slide through every corner. We’ve come from South Australia where the roads are wonderfully smooth to Queensland, it’s the most extreme condition change we’ll experience all year!”

“I’ve had problems in Queensland before, it only takes a split second to pick up a puncture, or something more serious and your challenge is over. So I’ll probably wait until I’ve seen the roads during recce to determine just what my approach will be,” explained Eli.

Holding that upper hand over his rivals allows Evans a margin of breathing space, and that if he has to settle for a podium finish he could well maintain his position at the top of the points leaderboard.

But he’s not prepared to take it easy either, with a win in Queensland rewarding him with ten straight victories. “I don’t need to win but I want to win! I’d love to win and really keep maximum pressure on the guys chasing, that would force them into a ‘do or die’ situation.”

Evans is confident that the proven strength of his Honda Jazz will stand him in good stead no matter how rough the rally proves.

“The Jazz is notoriously strong, and I definitely think our car handles the rough roads far better than our nearest rivals. So I’ll be looking to put that to good use,” Eli said.

“The Evans Motorsport team has also made some major progress towards adapting the car to my driving style this year, and that’s given me massive confidence to push. That’s really the key to our success, we’ve got a package in the Jazz that just does everything perfectly,” he added.
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