03 October 2004
EVANS FINISHES 3RD OUTRIGHT IN GLOBALSTAR AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP IN MELBOURNE
Toyota Team Racing's Simon Evans has finished 3rd outright in the Australian Rally Championship after a drama-charged final day of the Rally of Melbourne.
Evans survived a roll on the last corner of the rally to bring his Corolla home fourth for the weekend and edge out Mitsubishi's Juha Kangas for 3rd spot in the championship.
The popular Victorian and his co-driver and wife Sue were uninjured in the crash in the final special stage at the De Bortolli Winery in Victoria's Yarra Valley.
But the roll over dropped them from 2nd to 5th in today's heat.
Evans was upset at the mishap, but happy with clinching 3rd place in the championship.
"I'm really annoyed about that last corner. The road was quite cut up and I got caught in the ruts and she just went over. The very last corner of the rally - unbelievable," he said.
For Evans, it was the climax of an eventful rally that included two flat tyres and an emergency repair job on an oil cooler.
But he was delighted to have overhauled Mitsubishi's Juha Kangas for 3rd place in the championship.
"I'm really happy with the end result when you think about what has happened this season," he said.
A third place looked a forlorn hope when Evans crashed his Corolla and broke his leg in the Safari Rally Tasmania.
"The team's done a great job all season and it's been a blast," he said.
TTR team boss Neal Bates bounced back from a big crash yesterday to secure 4th in today's heat, while rookie Ben Barker underlined his potential with a 6th place.
It was the second rally in a row that TTR has finished with three cars in the top six.
Bates showed few ill effects of his big accident yesterday, although a change of tyre compound in the afternoon hurt his chances.
"The more stages I did the less the neck hurt, although it did stiffen up a fair bit when we came in for service," he said.
"Looking back on the afternoon I should have stayed with the same tyre compound because I was actually slower than my morning times on the same stages. But overall it was a good result," he said.
Barker also suffered from a bad tyre choice, but the rookie was elated with his performance.
"The car was fantastic today and to get a result like this is just awesome.
"I couldn't have wished for a better result to finish the season," he said.
Barker finished 10th in the championship.
Bates, who finished 6th in the championship, was proud of the team's performance this year.
"We've come an enormous way this season with the Corolla. The speed of the car has been improved out of sight and the reliability has been incredible," he said.
"We've proved to be very competitive all year and we're all looking forward to giving the championship a real shake in 2005," he said.
2004 NGK Rally of Melbourne: Simon and Sue Evans in their Toyota Corolla Sportivo during SS13.