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From solar panels to ARC titles for Eli Evans

Eli Evans and his Skoda Fabia R5 have been hard to catch in 2018. Photo: Matt Whitten

It’s unclear how WRC leader Sebastien Ogier is spending his Friday, but we know he’s not installing solar paneling on a roof, like current Australian Rally Championship leader, Eli Evans.

With a 57-point lead heading into the season-ending Kennards Hire Rally Australia, Evans hasn’t even started mentally preparing for the most important event of the season yet, but knows he’ll soon need to get his mind focussed.

“Fortunately we don’t have to do any preparation on the car, as it’s leased from Race Torque and they do all the pre-event work,” Evans told RallySport Magazine today.

“I’ll start mentalling preparing and getting into the gym next week.”

With three titles already under his belt, Evans knows how to win from the front. He says there’s not really any more physical preparation required for the tough three-day event, but the fact that it’s a WRC round gets him a little more excited.

With the Fabia R5 now repaired after his accident in Heat 2 at the Adelaide Hills Rally in September, and with championship points reinstated after a CAMS hearing, he’s the odds-on favourite to take the title.

He’s not expecting an easy run, however.

“We’ll be faster than last year when we were still developing the Mini Cooper AP4, but Harry (Bates) will be a lot quicker too.

“Steve (Glenney) has a Skoda R5 for this event, so he’ll be super fast out of the blocks as well. It won’t be easy.”

Eli Evans (right) and Ben Searcy started the year with third place in Victoria. Photo: Brett Keating

Evans’ Rally Australia campaign begins with a test on Monday, November 12, but the specification of the Skoda will be largely unchanged from throughout this season.

“It’s a great chassis that doesn’t really get upset by different conditions, but we may play around with some different spring rates,” he said.

“We ran different springs in South Australia and they worked well, but we also have a couple of other set-ups that we’ve used earlier in the year that also worked well.

“A lot will depend on the weather conditions.”

On that front, Evans is hoping for dry, sunny weather with high grip all the time.

“I don’t really like driving in Coffs Harbour when it’s wet,” he admitted.

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“There’s a lot of clay in some of the roads and it becomes very unpredictable and quite treacherous when it’s wet.

“A few years ago (2011) it was torrential on the first day and many of the top WRC drivers crashed, and some said it was the worst conditions they’d ever driven in.”

That was a tricky day one, when a couple of Citroen drivers name Sebastien both crashed their cars on the opening Friday!

Eli Evans | RallySport Magazine | Australia's Best Rally Magazine

Eli Evans is closing in on his fourth ARC title. Photo: Geoff Ridder

Evans and co-driver, Ben Searcy, really have to just finish the event in one piece to secure the championship, but as has been proven many times before, it’s never that easy.

“If we win every stage and win the rally, we’ll win the championship,” Evans said with a grin.

“We have a good lead and we know that if Harry or Steve have a problem on any day then their chances are slim.

“In reality, I think we could probably drop a day and still generate enough points to win the championship, but of course we’re hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

Rally Australia gets underway on Friday, November 16, with full coverage via the ‘WRC All Live’ at www.wrc.com

ARC points after Round 5 of 6:

  1. Eli Evans (Skoda Fabia R5) 338 points
  2. Harry Bates (Toyota Yaris AP4) 281
  3. Steve Glenney (Subaru WRX STI) 273
  4. Molly Taylor (Subaru WRX STI) 260
  5. Adrian Coppin (Skoda Fabia R5) 189

More ARC news:

IN FOCUS: Remembering Ford’s Group N (P) Focus

National entry list for Rally Australia confirmed

DAZDA: The original rotary-powered Datsun 1600

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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