In 2010 a young Eli Evans moved from a Subaru WRX, to a Honda backed Civic Type R. Little did he know, that 4 years on he would be in a two car Honda factory Jazz G2, winning two ARC titles back to back, and 11 straight round wins.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. In spite of extreme success the Honda Rally Team will close its doors at the end of the 2013 ARC season.
It has been an amazing 4 years in the Australian Rally Championship – 19 heat wins, 11 round wins, 2 outright championship back to back wins, and 2 manufacturer titles.
Not only from a drivers perspective, but also from a championships perspective, the Honda Rally Team has been the most successful team in the last 5 years in the championship. This has paved the way for other manufacturers to see value in the series, and perhaps move a little closer to joining the ranks.
At the beginning of the 2012 season we had 1 Honda. We now have 2 Renault Clios, 2 Citroën DS3RTs. Ford Fiesta R2s, and the possibility of Kia, and a few other yet to be announced manufacturers entering the mix.
Whilst it is sad that Honda is leaving, not only from a personal perspective, we need to celebrate all they achieved. Below is just a snippet of both Eli and the teams success over the years:
Round 1 – Rally Tasmania (Tarmac) – Round win 2WD Class
Round 2 – QUIT Forest Rally – Round win 2WD Class
Round 4 – Scouts Rally SA – Round win 2WD Class
Round 5 – International Rally Queensland (APRC) – Round win 2WD Class
Round 6 – Rally Victoria – Round win 2WD Class
Round 3 – Scouts Rally SA – Round win 2WD Class
Round 4 – Rally Australia – Round win 2WD Class
Round 5 – Rally Victoria – Round win 2WD Class
Round 1 – Rally Calder – 3 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 12 of 15 stages won.
Round 2 – QUIT Forest Rally – 2 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 15/18 stages won.
Round 3 – International Rally Queensland – 1 Heat win – Round win Outright – 14/19 stages won.
Round 4 – Scouts Rally SA – 3 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 7/16 stages won.
Round 5 – Coffs Coast Forest Rally – 2 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 8/14 stages won.
Round 6 – Rally Victoria – 2 Heat wins (Evans/Pedder) – Round win Outright – 10/15 stages won.
Round 1 – National Capital Rally – 1 Heat win – Round win Outright – 8/13 stages won.
Round 2 – QUIT Forest Rally – 1 Heat win – Round win Outright – 9/19 stages won.
Round 3 – Scouts Rally SA – 2 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 13/17 stages won.
Round 4 – International Rally Queensland – 2 Heat wins – Round win Outright – 10/18 stages won.
Round 5 – Rally Australia – 1 Heat win – Round win Outright – 11/18 stages won.
19 Heat Wins, 11 Round Wins in a row, 117 from 182 stage wins, 64.5% stage winning success.
There is no question the team has shown exactly what is possible, lets see what they can do in their final round of the championship.
In what is going to become a regular piece on Behind VM, I managed to grab the Honda Team and ask them a few questions, in relation to their time in the ARC under the Honda banner, and how it feels for them.
“What has being part of the Honda brand meant to you, not only as a driver/co-driver but personally”
Eli: Honda to me means family. They’ve been a huge support to me and my team over the last 4 years, and I’m very grateful! They’ve made me more confident in myself, as a driver, team mate and ambassador of the Honda brand. As I move forward to 2014, I believe I am the right person as a representative of a team.
Glen: Honda has a reputation for innovation and reliability. I now have some lifelong friends from Honda, that I find both innovative and reliable!
Mark: Even though Honda is obviously a massive company, they have a knack of making it feel a lot smaller and very family orientated. They have taught me a lot of things that I have taken back and used in my own business.
Claire: It has shown me that massive companies can still retain decent morals and a family based atmosphere that rewards it’s employees for hard, honest work.
“With Honda being so successful over the last two years, do you think in some way it has now opened the doors for other manufacturers to finally see value in the championship again?”
Eli: Yes, the results we were able to achieve are hard to ignore. Honda have created a lot of exposure by being successful. Now there are great opportunities for other manufactures in rallying, if they want to be successful.
Glen: The Honda Rally Program is proof that the new G2 regulations work. They showed without a doubt, that you can take a car, that on first glance ,doesn’t seem to be suited to rallying, but turn it into a championship winner. There’s no reason that any other manufacturer couldn’t do the same thing if they have the willingness to commit to it.
Mark: Honda has set the benchmark for other manufacturers entering the ARC and hopefully shown that by partnering with the right team, success and improved branding is possible.
Claire: Yes definately, I think Honda will be remembered as the manufacturer who helped to revive the ARC and rightly so.
“Your most memorable moment during the last two years?”
Eli: Breaking Possum Bourne’s record of 8 straight wins!
Glen: Every event in the Jazz G2 has been memorable, but I would probably say that the 2013 Forest Rally in WA was a stand out for me. A lot of the other drivers were laughing at us because we were the first car and at a huge disadvantage due to the covering of loose gravel on the road. Eli drove superbly and won the rally. The other drivers
weren’t laughing after that.
Mark: Rally Victoria 2012 for good and bad reasons. First heat win in an ARC but narrowly missing the round win.
Claire: Standing on the podium for the first time in Adelaide last year, surrounded by three Evans’, a Weston and a Pedder and knowing that we had fought hard to be there and deserved it.
“Your favourite stage in the ARC?”
Eli: Mawsons row at Rally SA. But it hasn’t been in championship for a few years. This year I would say Kinky at WA
Glen: I think that Million LA from Rally Qld would take the cake for me. It has to be one of the most technical stages in the championship and it has absolutely everything in it… Fast, slow, tight, open, uphill, downhill, smooth, rough, jumps!
Mark: Was Shipmans Stage (Coffs Harbour) but the 50km Nambucca Stage this year was awesome fun.
Claire: Nambucca baby!
Eli: When Glen forgot his shaver charger and I had to lend him mine. Eww grey beard!
Glen: Having the car fall off the jack twice whilst changing a flat tyre in Rally Qld 2012. If the car fell the wrong way we would have been out of the event and the laughing stock of the entire field!
Mark: Letting Glen Weston drive anywhere
Claire: Falling off the road in Perth last year. I will always be grateful that Marky opted to ditch, and drove off the road, rather than fighting it, which would have meant multiple roll overs.
Eli: 2013 – Scott Pedder
Glen: Scott Pedder without a doubt. His raw speed is amazing, and he can be a crafty bugger too!
Mark: No doubt, Eli Evans. The prep he puts in before, during and after events is part of the reason for his success. His hatred of losing is the other.
Claire: Scott and Dale. They have no fear and no hesitation. Great to have them both back in the ARC.
“Is Eli really faster than Roger? ;)”
Eli: Please….. duct tape Rogers arms to his knees and see how he goes. Practically what I had to deal with!
Glen: Yes, but I reckon they should do a rematch, and instead have them do a commando crawl, like Eli has to do when he’s running cables inside someone’s roof.
Mark: Pound for pound I’d say??? Rematch Rally Victoria 2013 for the undisputed champion!
Claire: ;)” yes but only while Roger is so massive
“Finally, favourite rally photographer? ;)”
Eli: They are all my favorites. Although I was impressed with the photo of you with mud on your face after testing @ SA Michael.
Glen: Any photographer that is crazy enough to point several thousand dollars worth of expensive camera gear our way whilst we rip past in the rally car and throw rocks at them is tops in my books!
Mark: No doubt Michael Vettas. Honda Team Member not just a photographer!
Claire: ;)” oh that Stuart guy is ok……kidding! Love you MV and am very grateful for the memories you have provided with your great photos.
It does bring a tear to my eye, thinking about the great memories … not only that I have had but the success the team has had. As is the teams mantra – ‘fall down seven times, get up 8 times’. We will see what the future holds for the ex Honda Team.
Enjoy the memories …