Eli Evans and Glen Weston have maintained their dominance in the 2WD Australian Rally Championship to claim victory at Scouts Rally SA in their G2 spec Honda Jazz. Despite a strong push from local hero Jack Monkhouse, Evans held on to extend his lead in the 2WD national championship.
The experienced husband and wife pairing of Simon and Sue Evans cruised to second place in the debut outing for the new Rallyschool Mazda 2. The car showed exceptional pace throughout the event and was a serious challenger to the Jazz of Simon’s brother, Eli. This really is a remarkable effort because despite its looks, the Mazda isn’t actually a factory backed car – it was developed and built by Mick Ryan and the privateer team at Rallyschool. For it to be up challenging for an outright win in its first event speaks volumes of the thought and skill that went into its preparation.
Third place was earned by the second Jazz G2 of Mark Pedder and Claire Ryan, which was a momentous occasion for two reasons. The first is that this was Claire’s first ARC podium, and the second is that this is the first time that the entire podium was taken by cars from the new G2 class.
Jack Monkhouse and Dale Moscatt in the S15 Silvia have proven to be a real headache for the factory Honda’s all year. Jack was dominating his home rally, but suffered steering problems and had to retire on Saturday afternoon whilst leading 2WD outright.
Michael Boaden and Helen Cheers carried on their fine form from International Rally of Queensland to go back to back, winning the 4WD ARC class in their Evo 9.
This was somewhat of a nostalgic podium for some, because this is the last time you’ll see 4WD cars competing for the outright Rally SA win. In a bid to attract more manufacturer support and make the sport more relevant, the ARC is moving to a 2WD only format starting next year so this is quite literally the end of an era.
Past Australian Rally Champion Barry Lowe became the first person to break Neal Bates’ stranglehold on the classic championship. The big Commodore was a definite crowd pleaser as it slid around the stages, gaining fans from all around the country.
Despite a major engine failure which saw them retire on Sunday’s first stage, Neal Bates and Coral Taylor had still amassed enough points to claim second place in the Toyota Team Europe replica Celica RA40.
Their engine failure actually happened just over the crest from where we were standing. We could hear the refined sounds of the Toyota 4 working hard, slicing through the early morning air with gusto. And then suddenly the revs dropped and all we could hear was a loud metallic sound before the car came to a halt in a cloud of steam as it rounded the corner. As it turned out the cylinder bore actually split, a common problem in these when you start stressing it to this level apparently.
One suffered a gearbox problem early in the first stage, however the other older 911 soldiered on for the entire rally. There’s just something about seeing an old 911 slide through the mud that makes me feel warm inside. It’s what these cars are built to do.
Speaking of being built for the job, you just can’t beat the toughness of these old 70’s Merc’s. Bruce Field did a fantastic job behind the wheel too, although the Merc couldn’t quite match the pace of the front runners.
And the new G2 formula cars certainly turn heads as they struggle to keep to speed limits driving through small towns. We were sitting in front of the Jazz for a while heading to a stage and it was really loud, even with all the windows up. These cars are so highly tuned that they struggle to crawl slowly around town, it’s great.
From here the championship heads to the Snake Racing Coff’s Coast Rally on 12-14 October. Whilst the Honda’s have had it their way up until now, the Mazda 2 is starting to show some real speed. It will be exciting to see how the championship plays out over the remaining two rounds.
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