Welcome to Evan and Caroline Vale from Murrumbateman NSW, who will be running a diesel Subaru Forester in Classic Outback Modern. Let’s meet Evan and hear their plans…
What car will you be running in the 2016 COT? What is special; what is its history; where is it at?
We will be running Brett Middleton’s Turbo Diesel Forester which he campaigned in the 2012 and 2013 ARC in the SUV class. The car came up at the right price and I really don’t have the time to finish the 1990 Celica GT4 we were planning on using.
We are huge Toyota fans but the opportunity to compete in a car that was driven by a living legend was too good to pass up, even if it is not a Toyota. I also had concerns about some of the stage distances and the GT4’s fuel consumption (she’s a hungry girl), which shouldn’t be an issue for the diesel Forester. The Forester is a reasonably standard car (the SUV class didn’t allow huge modifications) so it should be a relatively user friendly car to maintain.
Who will be in your team? Who is your co-driver, team manager or service crew? What’s your history as a team?
My wife Caroline will co-drive for me and has more recent experience than I do as she is the current NSW champion co-driver! At the moment the service crew will be centred around my 18yr old son Cody Passlow who drove Caroline to her championship last year and is handy with the tools. I’ll also be calling on some other friends that I haven’t asked yet so I had better not say who they are…
We have run Toyotas almost exclusively for near on 20yrs and have had some success in club and more recently State level events but we are definitely going to be on a steep learning curve come the start of the COT!
If you’re new to the COT, what has attracted you to the event?
I was approached by Dave Ballard earlier this year to help build a car for COT regular Steve Blair and during the project became more and more interested in doing the event. Caroline suggested we invite Steve over for dinner so we could get a good understanding of the event, and following that, we decided to enter. I guess Steve should get a spotters fee!
I have always enjoyed driving long distances and last year we drove out to Cameron’s Corner and it really whetted our appetite for outback travel. For us the COT combines a number of things we enjoy so we had to enter!
What are you expecting from the 2016 COT; what are you looking forward to?
A challenge. I’m no Stéphane Peterhansel that’s for sure but to experience something like the Dakar (albeit far more civilised!) is pretty special. Long stages in remote localities is what I’m looking forward to and being able to share it all with my co-driver in life is really great.
Have you been to Alice Springs before? What are you expecting or looking forward to seeing?
As I type this I haven’t been to Alice Springs but we will be there before the end of the year to have a look around. I’m not sure what to expect to be honest but I’m looking forward to it!
Are you planning a bit of a Red Centre holiday as part of your rally? Will your partner, family or friends be joining you?
Yes definitely. Some friends of ours are planning on joining us after the event but I may have to ask them to come earlier and help out in the service park. Is that subtle enough?
Who are your sponsors or supporters?
None really although family and friends have always supported our motorsport which is awesome.
What is/was your favourite rally car?
My favourite rally car is the ST185 Celica GT4. This is the type of car Juha Kankkunen used to win the 1993 world championship and the car that really spiked my interest in rallying. I own two ST185 GT4s but neither is in a condition to rally at the moment but for me they are classics and due to their use in rally video games for most of my generation instantly recognisable as a rally car, even in road trim.
What is your most memorable rallying moment?
I drove my son’s car in the Rally of the Bay last year because he had work commitments so Caroline would have a chance at the championship and had young Harry Bates seeded behind me. Harry caught and passed me on his 3rd ever stage and that was pretty memorable! Seriously though he is a star (and a great guy!) but I think it would be Caroline’s NSW co-drivers championship last year that is most memorable. We worked some long hours throughout the year and traveled some long distances to get that result and it is a credit to both my son and wife that they used a $400 1986 corolla that had a perfect finish record against more expensive machinery.
What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
I’ll have to do some fitness work for the long stages! I’ll also have to get used to the Forester as I have never rallied a 4wd before (or an SUV, but besides Brett, who has?) so we are plan on doing a few events to bed ourselves into the car. I have never brought a prepared car before so it is a bit of luxury not having to worry too much about the car. It will be just getting used to it and learning how to enjoy it.
Where are you, and what are you doing as you answer these questions?
I have just come inside from working on Steve Blair’s car (at least the Canberra winter is over finally), but I’ll let him tell you about it when you ask him the questions…
Thanks Evan… great to have you, Caroline and the family on board and joining us in Alice Springs. And yes, we’ll buy Steve Blair a drink or two!