Hot and cold Rally stars Czech-mated

Crash means they’ll take the high road, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

ABOUNCED Czech has left Simon and Sue Evans re­ly­ing on a high­land fling to kick-start their in­ter­na­tional rally ca­reer. The four-time Aus­tralian cham­pi­ons were sup­posed to leave Aus­tralia to­day to pre­pare for a se­ri­ous lash at the Czech event in the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Rally Chal­lenge, the sup­port­ing act to the world rally cham­pi­onship.

But their Peu­geot 307 crashed at its last start and de­layed re­pairs mean they have to post­pone their in­ter­na­tional ef­fort un­til the IRC event in Scot­land in Oc­to­ber.

It’s a sig­nif­i­cant blow for the pair, who had hoped to com­pete in eight IRC events this year, but they have been forced to re­turn to the Aus­tralian se­ries in a Subaru WRX.

‘‘The car’s not go­ing to be ready. We found out at the end of last week,’’ Simon Evans has told cars Guide.

‘‘These things hap­pen. The French team called us be­cause they were re­ally em­bar­rassed. The last driver wrote the car off and it’s be­ing re­paired, but there is a short­age of parts.’’

So the speedy hus­band and wife have ev­ery­thing staked on the Scot­tish Rally, which should be more suited to their pace and ex­pe­ri­ence on loose for­est roads.

‘‘I think I’ll prob­a­bly do a test in France be­fore I head to Scot­land. They are pretty keen and con­fi­dent of a good re­sult if I get time in the car,’’ Evans says.

‘‘They ac­tu­ally wanted me to come and do the Czech event as a shake­down for Scot­land. They know I’m a gravel ex­pert.’’

Evans is leav­ing his run late on the in­ter­na­tional front, hav­ing turned 38, but says he still has plenty of pace.

‘‘If I cared what peo­ple thought about me, I wouldn’t do it. I do it for me. It’s the chal­lenge of go­ing flat out and chal­leng­ing the roads and the cars. I’ve al­ways driven at the max­i­mum. We might win a rally by three min­utes be­cause I’m chal­leng­ing my­self.’’

He lost his only se­ri­ous chal­lenge in this year’s Aus­tralian se­ries when Scott Ped­der crashed and hurt him­self in South Aus­tralia, leav­ing Evans with a clear run through to the Rally of Queens­land.

But he was able to gauge him­self against for­mer WRC speed­ster Chris Atkin­son, who was driv­ing a Pro­ton in the Queens­land event as part of the Asia-Pa­cific cham­pi­onship

‘‘I en­joyed Queens­land be­cause At ko was there. I had to work hard. It was get­ting quite ex­cit­ing when we were up front with only 20 sec­onds be­tween us.’’

Evans says the IRC ef­fort is a way to keep him­self fresh.

‘‘I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to Scot­land. We’ll see what hap­pens. It will be a chal­lenge, no doubt.

‘‘I’m not say­ing I’m go­ing to go out there and win, but I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a race.’’

And what about a crack at a fifth crown at home next year if his IRC plan doesn’t get up?

‘‘I don’t know. But if I come back I won’t be back in a Subaru or a Mit­subishi.

‘‘I’ll find some­thing else to chal­lenge my­self,’’ he says, laugh­ing. MAR­COS Am­brose im­proved 22 po­si­tions in his lat­est Sprint Cup start in the US, fin­ish­ing 15th af­ter start­ing 37th at the high-speed Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speedway. His Toy­ota Camry faded again at the end of the race, af­ter he ran as high as fifth, as Kevin Har­vick won the Nascar round for Chevro­let.

Top team: Simon and Sue Evans plan to take on the best in­ter­na­tional stars in Scot­land in a Peu­geot 307 (above), in place of their reg­u­lar Aus­tralian Rally Cham­pi­onship SubaruWRX (right).

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