By Gavin Staindl
LOCAL rally car drivers were out in force on the weekend for the final race in the Australian Rally Car championship series near Warragul.
The series came to a conclusion in the forests of Lardner Park, where Warragul brothers Glen and Matt Raymond held off Berwick pair Justin Dowell and Matt Lee by 38 seconds.
It was not the ideal weekend for Pakenham duo Simon and Sue Evans, who ran off the track and fell behind 20 minutes as they literally pushed their car back on track.
The Evans, who were good enough to secure the 2010 championship in the previous race, were out to make up for lost time caused by mechanical problems, but unfortunately driver Simon ran the corner too fast and found a nearby stump.
His brother, Eli, was also plagued by mechanical problems as he battled to eighth position.
“We had a bit of a shocking weekend,” Eli Evans, of Pakenham, said.
“We experienced electrical problems, where the car was thinking it was revving a lot more when it wasn’t.
“There were rev cuts every second or two and the car could only reach 80km/h going uphill and 130km/h going down hill, which is 20 per cent less than normal.
“It was very painful.”
Starting the race in warm weather on Friday afternoon, the conditions quickly turned for the worse on Saturday, where heavy rain, fog, and greasy roads meant some of the later stages were cancelled.
“It was difficult, very difficult,” Eli Evans said.
“The most difficult part was the fog, where visibility was at times only 20 metres ahead and you’re still doing 180km/h.
“Race notes and having the confidence to drive on it meant the experienced drivers shone.”
Despite the poor performance on Saturday, Simon and Sue Evans showed their experience on the Sunday by being the day’s fastest drivers.
Eyeing an overall finish of second on the ARC standings, Eli was disappointed by the weekend that left him seventh. He was still upbeat about the performances of his two-wheel drive Honda Civic.
As the only two-wheel drive car in the championship – and given a 2wd car hadn’t recorded a podium finish in over 20 years – Evans was content with his year, which included two podium finishes.
“We’re underdogs. Our car is a handful, makes a lot of noise, but it is a lot of fun,” Eli said.
“It is the most sideways car in the field and I’m looking forward to taking on the Honda four wheel drives again next year.”
By Gavin Staindl