Hot and cold Rally stars Czech-mated
Crash means they’ll take the high road, writes Paul Gover
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).