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Simon Evans and Ben Searcy obliterated the field on the opening day of the National Capital Rally in Canberra, the second round of the Australian Rally Championship.

After dropping the opening stage to Brendan Reeves on Friday night, the pair won every stage on Saturday in their Impreza WRX to win by a healthy margin of one minute and 18 seconds.

“It was the perfect day, and ‘The Beast’ went really well,” a delighted Evans said at the end of the day.

“We went out with a plan to attack on the morning’s first three stages and that paid off as we built an advantage while others hit problems.”

Brendo-Day-1On his first event in the ARC since 2014, Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino (right) were hoping for a trouble free day, but Reeves lost first and second gears just one kilometre into the day’s opening stage, and battled from then on.

That he was able to set competitive times and still take second place was a credit to the Subaru driver’s ability.

Nathan Quinn had a disappointing morning as well, breaking a rear suspension arm on his Lancer Evo 9 and suffering a flat tyre, but he managed to recover to finish third, nearly a minute behind Reeves, but 51 seconds clear of Tom Wilde’s Subaru.

Fifth place went to the factory Group N Subaru of Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes, who impressed once again in a car with less horsepower and a lot more weight than their competitors. A broken front diff on the final forest stage cost Taylor some time, but her result moved her to third in the championship standings.

Harry-Day-1Harry Bates (pictured right) had placed his Toyota Corolla S2000 into third place after three stages, but had a slow rollover on the following stage, with the car landing on its roof. It was over 15 minutes before he and co-driver John McCarthy could get their car back on to its wheels, and they eventually finished the day in 13th place.

Mark Pedder’s day ended early when he broke a rear suspension arm on his Peugeot 208, while Adrian Coppin also retired with engine problems in his Toyota.

There was much worse news for Craig Brooks. After rolling his car on Friday’s shakedown stage, Brooks rolled the car again on stage four. The car finished well off the road and caught fire, burning to the ground and totally destroying the once pristine Subaru WRX.

Front suspension issues plagued Brad Markovic all day, but the West Australian was happy to make the end of the day after his car caught fire and was destroyed in the opening round.

Day two of the National Capital Rally will see crews contest another six stages, before the champagne finish on Sunday afternoon.

HEAT ONE PLACINGS  

1. Evans/Searcy, Subaru Impreza WRX, 01:07:35.2
2. Reeves/Gelsomino, Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C, 01:08:53.9, +01:18.7
3. Quinn/Calder, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 01:09:42.2, +02:07.0
4. Wilde/Hill, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 01:10:34.0, +02:58.8
5. Taylor/Hayes, Subaru WRX STI, 01:11:28.3, +03:53.1

Photos copyright RallySport Magazine

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