They may not have been the fastest competitors in this year’s BP Ultimate Challenge, playing second fiddle to Will Orders in the speed stakes, but Simon Jansen and Elysia Kruper proved that consistency is what rallying is all about.

The Tasmania duo, soon to be married, drove an ex-Ed Ordynski, ex-Pedders Rally Team Lancer Evo 3 to victory in the series, proving that, despite the long and arduous trips from the Apple Isle for each event, you don’t need the latest and fastest car to win a national championship.

Peter Whitten chatted to Simon Jansen after his career-best season.

RSM: When did you start in rallying, and in what car?
Simon: My first car (don`t giggle) was a Fiat 124 sport coupe - 1800cc twin cam, 4-wheel disc brakes, 5-speed box, LSD rear (standard). I was 17 years of age and it was a rallysprint. The badge on the rear read ‘ITALIAN STALLION Mk1’.

You had some great results in a Formula 2 Daihatsu Charade. What was your best result?
It would have to be the 2005 Subaru Safari Tasmania. We won both Heats in F16 at our home event.

Why did you make the decision to move to the Lancer Evo 3?
Progression. We had good results in the Fiat and many good years in the Charade. We felt the next thing was to go four-wheel drive. Bill Orders was keen to sell the Evo, seeing that Pedders Rally Team was retiring from the sport. Being built by Les Walkden in Tasmania and driven by Mr ARCom (Ed Ordynski) and Scott Pedder, we thought it would be a good start.

Contesting the ARC is a big step. Was it difficult to compete in the events, given that you’re based in Tassie?
The hardest thing about being in Tassie is that damn stretch of water. Getting from Tassie to the mainland is expensive on the boat and it’s the only thing we hate about rallying in the ARC. The boat rattles and shakes (no sleep), but I find driving to the events relaxing as it gives me time to focus on the upcoming event and not have to work for a change.

How much do you estimate it costs you to compete in each round of the ARC?
Around seven to eight thousand dollars per event (an average would be $2000 entry fee, $1100 on the boat, $1000 on accommodation, $2500 on tyres, $300 for the hire of a van because we can't afford to bring another vehicle across on the boat, $300 rally car fuel, $500-$1000 on fuel for our Pajero (depending on how far we have to travel).

Believe it or not, Queensland is the cheapest round for us and Melbourne is the dearest, bar our home event (due to Queensland falling in the off-peak season with the boat charges, and the accommodation is cheaper, whereas Melbourne was more expensive on the boat due to school holidays and the accommodation is harder to find).

Elysia does all our budgets and finds cheap (but good) accommodation (that must come from her previously working in a hotel) and cheap flights for the service crew. (It’s a girl thing, I don`t want to know how she does it.)

You have proved very consistent. What sort of work did you do on the car between events? Did you regularly change parts, or just rebuild old ones?
After every event we clean and check every component for wear and condition. The Mitsubishi is very strong and part replacement has been minimal - only brake pads, engine oil, filter etc. Between each event I spend every weekend (all weekend) in our workshop, working and trying to make our next event a good one.

Given that the BP Challenge provides no prize money, where do you go from here? What are the plans for the future?
It’s a wait and see game. This year has stretched all resources to the limit. We would love to contest the BP Challenge in 2007 but it isn't looking good at this stage. I must sound like a broken record, but rallying is not cheap and money is hard to find. 

Due to higher airfare and accommodtion prices we chose not to compete in Canberra or WA, but then competing in four ARCs in four months certainly strained the finances. Perhaps if the calendar was stretched out a little more next year it might help the smaller teams.

Simon Jansen
Age: 35
Occupation: business owner (Eurotech Automotive)
Marital status: soon to be married to Elysia.
Kids: two mini dachshunds
Hobbies: working on the car
Years in rallying: 17
Best result: winning the BP Challenge and second in F16 in 2005
Biggest accident: upside down in a creek in the Charade (got charged for illegal trout trap!).
What is good about rallying: The people - we have friends all over the country that have become like family.
What is bad about rallying: competing prices, greenies, Tasmanian greens and doo-gooders.

Elysia Kruper
Age: 27
Occupation: Administration Manager (Staging Connections)
Marital status: soon to be married to Simon
Hobbies: going to the gym and shoppng.
Years in rallying: 9
Best result: winning the BP Challenge and second in F16 in 2005
Biggest accident: upside down in a creek in the Charade (I wasn't happy when I realised that neither door would open and that the only glass left was, of course, in the back hatch and the front screen - right where it would have been easy to climb out).
What is bad about rallying: The lack of exposure the sport receives on television in Australia – a one hour show six times a year is not enough to sell sponsorship to someone on.

Photos: Morey Photography

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