Five ARC rounds for Shepheard/Smith in 2008
- 26th March 2008, 4:17pm
The GSA team has chosen to stay with Mitsubishi machinery for their 2008 ARC campaign, and will start the season with their fully rebuilt Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6, later upgrading to a brand new EVO 10 when it becomes available later in the year.
With George Shepheard calling the shots from the service area, and a brace of new sponsors, the team is expecting to be at the pointy end of the field. Due to work commitments, and the delay with the new EVO 10 arriving, the team will miss the first round in W.A., but will contest the remaining rounds in ACT, QLD, S.A., NSW and Victoria.
GSA motorsport ran a two-car team in the ARC from 1999 through to 2003, with Steve achieving many top 10 places, and three outright stage wins. In 2004 the team returned to the Queensland Rally Championship (QRC), which allowed them more time to concentrate on the family business, while still getting their much needed rallying fix. From 1999 till 2007, the team has won five QRC titles with George Shepheard winning in 1999, 2001 & 2002, and Steve taking the 2004 crown with Dom Corkeron calling the notes, and then again in 2007 with Tom Smith.
Each year when the ARC returns to Queensland for Coates Rally Queensland, Steve and Tom have been able to keep pace with the full time ARC competitors, with the last three years netting times that have placed them ninth, seventh and eighth outright, and then in 2007 with the change to customer-spec Michelin tyres, Steve set top five times all day and achieved a stunning fifth outright. With this pace on tap, and the new EVO 10 on order, the team felt it was time to step back up to the ARC.
“I can't wait! Tom and I are so looking forward to full time ARC competition again,” Steve said. “ Since we left the ARC, we have had a blast doing the QRC, gaining 13 rally wins and a few titles. But you always want to have a go against the big boys; it pushes everything you have got to give to the limit. That’s where it’s at, we can’t wait!“
George is looking forward to both the rallying and the chance to build the newest spec car when the Evo 10 arrives. "Having had a chance to look at all the info, and a good look over a new EVO 10, I think it will be a great car for gravel rallying, so we put our order in, and then set about plans to have the EVO 6 ready to start the 2008 season,” he said.
“As soon as the new car arrives, we will tear into it flat out to build a strong, quick ARC car that will also be capable of mixing it in the WRC round due on the Gold Coast in 2009,“ George added.
After a few years’ break from a full ARC campaign, co-driver Tom Smith is on cloud nine with the plans ahead.
“I have had a few ARC rides in the last few years with Steve, and odd single drives here and there, but you can't beat a full year’s ARC. It lets you really get your eye in, get the flow going in and out of the car. I have been on the ARC podium once before in 1996 (with Graham Vaughan – when we took third place at Rally Tasmania in an Evo. 3), and you have to have a go again.”
With final sponsorship agreements almost settled, the GSA team will release their full team profile soon.
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