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Eli Evans claimed his eleventh straight victory in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship and in the process secured his second driver’s title with one Round still to go before the end of the year.

He didn’t have everything his own way, following tyre dramas yesterday, and Brendan Reeves nipping at his heals consistently, but Eli Evans controlled the pace from the front and in the end lead home Reeves by 16.1 seconds.
 
“It’s such a great feeling!” Eli said. “It’s been a tough year, even though we’ve won every rally this year, it hasn’t been easy at all, I’ve just been very fortunate to have a dream run.”
 
“All the guys (in the team) have put in such a great effort, and the Honda Jazz never let me down. I can’t thank Honda enough for all their support over the last four years, and this is a great way to reward them with our eleventh straight win and two Championships in a row.”
 
Evans’ co-driver, the vastly experienced Glen Weston, added: “I can’t see eleven straight wins being beaten in a hurry!”
 
The third and final Leg of Rally Australia was cut short by the event organisers following dramas with heavy dust and alterations to the schedule, meaning second placed Brendan Reeves had even less kilometres to try to cut down Eli’s overnight advantage.
 
In the end Reeves was able to almost halve the deficit, but it wasn’t enough and he settled for second and his best result of the year in the rallyschool.com.au Mazda2.
 
“A really good result, and to yesterday win my first Heat of the ARC, that’s nice to finally have under my belt,” he said. “The car has been getting faster and I felt more comfortable in it this weekend. The team has done a great job and this is a great result!”
 
Reeves’ co-driving sister Rhiannon Smyth said the pair of stage wins yesterday had been the highlight of the weekend.
 
“To win both of those 50 kilometre stages yesterday was a great feeling, the best part of the weekend for sure. We closed the gap to Eli to 16.1 seconds, we really needed those cancelled stages this afternoon but it was still good to pull time off Eli.”
 
Upholding honours for Renault Sport was Tom Wilde who brought his Clio home in third. “An awesome result and we’ve had a great run all weekend,” he said.
 
“This is probably the best I’ve driven all year, I’m feeling confident and I’ll head into Rally Victoria, on roads I love over there, looking to go even better,” Wilde added.
 
Co-driver Bill Hayes was quick to heap praise on Wilde and the maturity he’s showing in his first year in a two-wheel drive rally car. “It’s amazing, every event just gets better and better. In Queensland we had a good run, and here we had a few little issues and lost a little time in dust, so when I think about it we could have been fighting for second.”
 
“Tom’s speed is really coming now and he’s doing a really, really good job in the car!” Hayes added.
 
Positions remained the same for the Pedder brothers, with Mark Pedder bringing his Honda Jazz home in fourth ahead of a recovering Scott Pedder who comfortably the fastest driver of the day.
 
Scott Jackson was the star performer of the rally, debuting his Nissan Silvia for the first time in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship, and in the process netting sixth outright. Mick Patton and Justin Dowel in their pair of Volkswagen Polo’s filled places seven and eight while Steve Mackenzie steered his Peugeot 207 home to ninth ahead of the diminutive Mitsubishi Mirage or Shawn Urquhart in tenth.
 
In the WRC category Adrian Coppin, plagued throughout the weekend by dust and slower drivers, set an overall time that would have placed him sixth in the outright ECB ARC standings behind Scott Pedder.
 
John Mitchell managed to steer clear of trouble in his Mitsubishi Lancer to win the National 4WD category, with a clear lead of over two minutes. In a last stage swap Peter Roberts managed to sneak his Mitsubishi Lancer ahead of the Subaru Impreza of Richie Dalton.
 
Positions remained the same in the Classics with Neal Bates in his Toyota Celica just under three minutes ahead of second placed Michael Conway’s Ford Escort with Queenslander Ryan Smart third in his Datsun 180B.
 
And in the battle of the rally in the Side-by-Side’s Michael Guest (Can-Am) managed to hold onto his overnight advantage to beat arch rival Cody Crocker (Polaris) by just 5.5 seconds, with Iain Hughes third in his Polaris RZR XP900.
 
The East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship heads into an eight-week break before the sixth and final Round of the season at Rally Victoria. The event, held over the Friday 15th and Saturday 16th November, takes drivers to the Gippsland region outside of Melbourne and their demanding forest roads.
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