Be­yond Evans’ king­dom

Last sea­son was great for Si­mon Evans, this year must be bet­ter, writes STEPHEN OT­T­LEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

HOW do you im­prove on per­fec­tion? That’s the ques­tion fac­ing de­fend­ing Aus­tralian rally cham­pion Si­mon Evans. He made a clean sweep of last year’s se­ries, win­ning ev­ery heat at each round to fin­ish un­de­feated.

With this year’s cham­pi­onship be­gin­ning this week­end with the Quit For­est Rally in West­ern Aus­tralia, Evans is un­der­stand­ably con­fi­dent.

Not only will he be rac­ing for the se­ries’ only of­fi­cial fac­tory team, Toy­ota, he also has a new car.

He will up­grade from the Group N (P) Corolla, which took him to the last two ti­tles, to a Su­per 2000 model.

The in­ter­na­tional rules mean the new Corolla is a more pur­pose-built rally weapon than the old car.

‘‘The S2000 has lived up to ex­pec­ta­tions,’’ Evans says. ‘‘It re­ally is a proper rac­ing car. The noise is great and so is the se­quen­tial gear­box. I haven’t got Mum’s car and hot­ted it up!

‘‘It looks good. It’s a brand new car, no chips or scratches. It even has a new car smell, but that won’t stay long.’’

Though Evans may be new to the car his team­mate, Neal Bates, used the S2000 ver­sion last sea­son so it is bat­tle-tested.

With a new and bet­ter car, Evans has been train­ing hard dur­ing the off-sea­son to be­come a fit­ter, bet­ter driver.

‘‘You can al­ways im­prove,’’ he says. ‘‘I made a lot of mis­takes out there that no one else saw last year.’’

‘‘My job is to get out and do the the best job I can.

‘‘I look at it as tak­ing things one step at a time. I’m not wor­ried about re­sults.’’

As much as he would like to re­peat his per­fect score from last year, he ex­pects even tougher com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son.

In ad­di­tion to Bates, Evans faces threats from Mit­subishi’s Spencer Lown­des and Subaru WRX driv­ers Michael Guest, Dar­ren Win­dus and his own brother, Eli Evans.

‘‘My brother will be a huge threat,’’ Evans says. ‘‘He has the ex­pe­ri­ence and his speed is ex­cep­tional.’’

But there is also a lot ex­pected of Guest. The for­mer World Rally Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tor has joined Les Walk­den’s ex­pe­ri­enced team.

He has also switched from the S2000 Ford Fi­esta to the Group N spec­i­fi­ca­tion Subaru Im­preza WRX. That change has brought a re­ac­tion from Evans.

‘‘Guesty has put a lot of pres­sure on him­self,’’ Evans says. ‘‘Last year he made a lot of Group N be­ing a bet­ter cat­e­gory. Now the shoe is on the other foot, so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how he goes.’’

Si­mon says: Si­mon Evans won ev­ery heat at last year Aus­tralian rally com­pe­ti­tion.

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