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