Evans’ new Mazda2 earns its rally stripes
- 14th August 2012, 1:46pm
Simon Evans drove the all-new G2 spec Mazda to a close fought second outright for the weekend after a rally long duel with his younger brother Eli in the works Honda.
The result on its debut event has vindicated Mick Ryan's belief that competitive G2 rally cars can be built in Australia to the new regulations at a relatively low cost.
"I think Simon showed what can be done and the car performed brilliantly, we were able to learn a lot and we now have a list of minor improvements that will give more speed and bring us even closer to the Hondas," said Mick Ryan.
"For Simon and Sue to have finished as close to Eli as they did was a huge testament to their skill but also to our team and in particular our chief engineer Dave Loftus, without him we would still be thinking about a car, instead of having a serious rally weapon capable of challenging for the 2013 title," said Mick Ryan.
"Scouts Rally SA was always going to be a learning exercise, our goal was never to accumulate points because we missed the first three rounds and there is still a lot of development to be done."
The Rallyschool.com.au Mazda G2 was a crowd favourite at the South Australian event and despite being seeded at the head of the field and having to sweep the roads, was able to record fastest stage times, even with a few minor teething issues.
"The fact that the Mazda was able to win the very first competitive stage it contested gave us a lot of encouragement and Simon went on to repeat that feat several times through the rally in very tough and testing conditions," Mick Ryan added.
The team found the car losing time on the longer stages on the opening day but without a major service they could not gather data to see why the performance was tailing off.
They were able to analyse the data on Saturday and after a series of minor changes they had a fix, which significantly improved performance enabling Simon Evans to take fastest on the final stage of the day by a whopping eight seconds.
Sweeping the road on Sunday again cost the Mazda time but Evans was still able to limit the loss to a couple of seconds on each of the first two stages compared to his brother who was in a more favourable fifth position on the road.
"It means it is all very promising, the car finished strongly, it won the last stage by 16 seconds, our to do list is not too long and all of us in the team are looking forward to making some more improvements and giving it a really good shake at the next round in Coffs Harbour in October," Ryan said.
The Rallyschool team tested the car on the Wednesday before the rally as well as demonstrating it with a series of VIP sponsor rides while also using the opportunity to work with technicians from Hollinger to improve the gear shift process as well as chasing grip.
As well as campaigning the new Mazda, the team also ran both of the course safety cars during the event, with one being co-driven by the president of Bosch Australia, Gavin Smith, co-driving in the safety car for 2011 Bosch ARC runner up Ryan Smart.
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