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Reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has won his first rally of the 2010 season, emerging victorious in both heats at a rough-and-tumble Coffs Coast Rally.

The victory has propelled Evans and his co-driver wife Sue into the championship lead at the halfway point of the season.

Evans won the gruelling 170 kilometre Heat 1 over the Friday and Saturday of the event by a comfortable 1m03s from his main championship rival Scott Pedder.

The shorter but no less challenging 120 kilometre Heat 2 began with Evans and Pedder taking a stage win each over the first two of the day.

From there, the Tankformers Subaru Impreza struggled to match the pace of the Mitsubishi on the fast, open roads – the traditional home ground of the Lancer Evolution.

Going into the final 28 kilometre stage, Pedder had a 27s lead in Heat 2 – however, with Evans having won Heat 1, the overall rally victory would have gone on a countback to the driver with the most stage wins.

The two combatants entered the final stage with Evans ahead by one in the stage win count, meaning Pedder needed the stage win to force a further countback – while Evans needed to prevent the extra countback, which would have gone in Pedder’s favour.

The event was decided approximately one kilometre into the stage, when Pedder rolled his car, ending his day – meanwhile Evans was spectacular as he pushed for the rally victory.

Evans emerged from the stage unscathed, and a whopping 47s faster than the next driver on the stage.

The victory sees Simon and Sue Evans claim the Australian Rally Championship lead for the first time in 2010 with 213 points, 17 ahead of Scott Pedder on 196 points in second place.

“That is a very satisfying victory,” Evans said after the podium ceremony.

“We had a great day yesterday – things were a lot tougher today, but we kept hanging in there.

“The faster roads definitely suited Scott’s car – we did absolutely everything we could to make the Tankformers Subaru faster, but we couldn’t quite keep up with him.

“But we stuck with it all day – you never want to win through someone else having a problem, but that’s rallying.

“These are tough roads – you are only ever a moment away from disaster here. They are exhilirating though – that last stage was insane.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do to try and improve the car’s speed before the next round, but we’re going to take a moment to enjoy this – it feels good to be a winner again.”

View Coffs Harbour Rally photos here

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