With the dramas of an early finish at Rally Queensland behind them, the GSA/Oztec rally team of Steve Shepheard/Tom Smith headed to South Australia confident of being back up to competitive speed again in their Evolution 6 Lancer.

It has been some four years since Steve had competed in the event, and with many changes to the route, a number of new, fast roads were encountered for 2008.

Starting car 11, the crew knew that speed and consistency was the key to this rally – especially in the face of so many newer and higher-specification cars on the road ahead of them.

Heat one on Saturday saw some tyre-testing in the cold and changing conditions, with Dunlop rubber tried for the first time on the car. During the day the car and crew ran consistently inside the top ten, occasionally knocking on the door of the fastest five.

Acknowledging that some stages could have been driven quicker, the team was nonetheless rewarded with ninth outright for the day’s effort, with just over 20 seconds separating them from seventh place. The oldest car in the top ten finished the day’s competition without a scratch and running strongly, ready to better the result on day two.

A clean and tidy effort at the Angaston Super Special stage on Saturday night saw the team enter Sunday’s stages in a brilliant fifth outright.

With the speed carrying into the beautiful Pine Hut and Pipeline stages, a ‘flat crest’ on the Pipeline road saw the car land off-line and bounce through a rocky roadside gutter at close to maximum speed.

While Steve’s driving skills kept the car on the road, a damaged front left tyre slowly deflated over the balance of the stage, costing about 30 seconds. Just like the day before, a group of cars was very close in times and with five stages to run positions were there to be gained.

While keeping their closest competitors in sight, and during a charge on ‘Floodways’, a universal joint failure brought the car to a standstill, ending the day early. While extremely disappointed to record another DNF – ironically due to a failure in a part that was replaced in the week before the event – the team lamented the fact that this was likely to be the final event with the magnificent Evo 6.

The team is not travelling to the tarmac event in Tasmania, instead consolidating its resources to complete the build on the new Evolution 10 Lancer which arrived in the GSA workshop during the SA event.

It is planned that the Evo 10 will debut at the Coffs Harbour Rally in mid November.
Naturally, the multi-championship winning Evolution 6 is on the market and enquiries should be directed to Steve Shepheard at GSA.  

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