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Winning four of the six rounds of the Queensland Rally Championship shows that Steven Shepheard had a stellar season in 2006, but misfortune on the other two rounds of the title meant that the state title that he had worked so hard for eluded him.

Combined with a fastest time on his home round of the Australian Rally Championship, Shepheard and co-driver Tom Smith again proved that they had the pace to run at the front of the pack in most events.

Over the off-season the team’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 will undergo a full rebuild before next year’s Queensland Championship, and Shepheard says there’s also the possibility that he and Smith will contest the NSW Championship as well.

And, after the success of 2006, Shepheard (perhaps with tongue in cheek) says that his goal for next year is to win every stage of every event he enters – aside from the ARC round.

Again the team will be supported by Falken Tyres and GSA Wholesale Suspension, and with his father, rally builder extraordinaire George Shepheard, on the spanners, success should again come their way.

Off the stages though, Steve Shepheard has some strong views on the sport, and what Australian rallying’s biggest issues are.

“The organizers are running events to suit factory cars and are not attending to the issues that are hurting the sport,” Shepheard says. “When I started ARC events back in my Lancer Evo 2 the leading privateers were using four Michelin or Pirelli tyres per day ($1440 of tyres a day), yet now we have a maximum of 12 needed ($4320 a day). Why?

“We used Avgas back then ($200 for 200 litres), yet now we must use ELF (at $1100 for 200 litres). We can use BP Ulitmate, but that is a different championship,” he says.

He adds that he believes the ARC should have a tyre limit of four tyres (perhaps 5), with penalties for those teams who use more than their allocation. He also says that everybody should have to run the BP pump fuel.
“We need to make major cost changes - and now - to fix our sport,” he says. “The Australian Rally Commission (ARCom) should be answerable to the competitors and competitors should vote on their issues.

“In the year 2006 there is no reason why people can not vote on issues - with computers and mobile phones contact is not an issue. ARCom’s books should be open viewing,” he says.
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