Reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has scored his fourth consecutive victory at Rally SA in the Barossa Valley.

The win is also his second straight in the 2010 championship, and sees the Tankformers crew extend its championship lead.

Remarkably, Evans’s four wins at Rally SA have come in four very different cars, beginning in 2007 at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype).

He then dropped the turbocharger and roughly half the torque in the lightweight Corolla Super 2000 in 2008, before emerging victorious in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX last year, and now this year with the Tankformers Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

Evans flew out of the blocks on Saturday morning, winning three of the first four stages to set up victory in Heat 1 by 20.1s over his main championship rival Scott Pedder.

The Victorian began Heat 2 in solid fashion, gaining a slender 0.1s lead on Saturday night at the Angaston Super Special stages.

The event took an unfortunate turn on the first stage of Sunday, with championship challengers Scott Pedder and Jon Mortimer suffering an accident 1.6km into SS11.

The Evans crew was first on the scene and immediately switched their attention from rallying to helping Pedder and Mortimer.

Mortimer emerged relatively uninjured, while Pedder was taken to hospital via helicopter with non-life threatening injuries.

Organisers cancelled SS11, while the Evans crew and the Quinn/Green crew did not rejoin the event until SS13 – receiving derived times for SS12.

Once back in the running, the focus for Evans was on forgetting about the accident and returning his mind to the job at hand – something he did by recording the fastest time on every one of the event’s remaining five stages, winning Heat 2 by 1m22.4s from Nathan Green.

It was a bittersweet victory for Evans, with the thoughts of the Number 1 crew firmly with Scott Pedder.

“I’m not quite sure how I should feel right now,” said Evans after Heat 2.

“Obviously I’m delighted to have won today, but it doesn’t quite mean as much when you see a fellow competitor and mate taken off to hospital after an accident.

“We weren’t going to leave the scene until we saw Scott out of the car and in the helicopter – I’ve got to thank the organisers because they were brilliant in a very difficult situation.

“After that, it was pretty hard to concentrate on rallying and forget about the accident in the first couple of stages.

“Then it started becoming a little easier to focus on the right things and it all came back to us – the biggest challenge was trying to keep the mental side on track.

“The car was absolutely brilliant, the roads were awesome – it was kind of hard to not have some fun out there and go faster and faster.
“By the end of the day we were flying.”

Simon Evans now leads the 2010 Australian Rally Championship with 294 points, ahead of Scott Pedder in second place on 230 points.

Round 5 of the Australian Rally Championship is the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast starting on 31st July.

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