Evans on the brink of second ARC title
Toyota’s Simon and Sue Evans are on the brink of claiming a second and consecutive NEC Australian Rally Championship at the NGK Rally of Melbourne.
The equation is simple – the reigning champions need just two points in Melbourne to repeat their 2006 title after winning all five rounds and all 10 heats held in 2007.
The TRD team already has one trophy in the cabinet from 2007 after it wrapped up the manufacturers’ championship in Heat 1 of the Great Lakes Rally.
Simon Evans flew out of the blocks with crushing victories in the first three rounds at Queensland, Western Australia and Canberra.
The following two rounds were more closely fought battles. However, the number one Corolla still emerged with both heat wins in rounds four and five.
Evans will not make his highly anticipated debut in a new Super 2000 in Melbourne, continuing for one last time with the Group N (Prototype) Corolla.
"It has a nice symmetry to finish the season off in the car that won all of the events," said Evans.
"It would have been nice to get into a new S2000 Corolla for Melbourne, but I have gotten extremely close to the old girl [the Group N (P) car] – she’s already given me one championship, and is really close to a second.
Evans is now 119 points ahead of his team-mate Neal Bates, with just 121.5 points on offer in Melbourne.
"It was unbelievable to wrap up the championship with a heat win in my home rally last year," said Evans.
"To have another opportunity to do it in front of my friends and family is almost surreal, but I’ll take it like any other rally and just go out there and do the job I’ve been doing all season."
Team-mate Neal Bates has been developing the Super 2000 Corolla all season, and has made some strong gains throughout the year.
Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor enter the final round as the only duo with a mathematical chance of beating the Evans pair to the title.
"It is going to take a miracle for us to win the championship," said Bates.
"In all fairness, Simon and Sue have been the benchmark all year and it just wouldn’t be right to see someone else win the championship – even if it was me!
"I am incredibly happy with the progress on the S2000 car this year – if you had told me at the start that I would be second going into the championship finale with the work that we’ve done this year, I would have gladly taken it.
"Wrapping up the manufacturers’ championship last round was a justified reward for all of the hard work that the guys have put in this season.
"The car has been so reliable and there is still so much potential for it – it really is a very rewarding challenge for us at each event and each test session as we try and make it better and better."
The NGK Rally of Melbourne runs from November 9 to 11 in the picturesque Yarra Valley north of Melbourne.