An Unlikely Predator: Gareth Simpson’s Safari-Spec Evo
This year I have been fortunate enough to attend all rounds of the ADGP and Track Battle Time Attack series. At every event, the presence of drifters has heavily outweighed that of the ‘time attackers’. Recently however, at the final round of the series in Perth, the time attack field was strong, with one contender in particular arising as the crowd favourite for the whole event, and for myself personally, the entire series. With that in mind, let’s take a safari around Gareth Simpson’s zebra Evo.
Whilst the conspicuous zebra isn’t exactly a carnivorous threat on the African plains, this ‘Zebro’ certainly held its own ground at Barbagallo Raceway. From the minute this car arrived in the pits, it had my eyes, along with the rest of the service park’s, locked on like targets. After hovering around the vehicle for quite some time, I approached the owner Gareth and asked for a quick interview…
Gareth chose the unique zebra colour scheme to reflect his South African heritage, and also to tie in the theme of his own popular, Perth based line of restaurants, Hippo Creek African Grill. The strategic and precise alignment of the detailed graphics, laid over the APR Performance Evil-R wide body kit, delivers an unbeatable combination. Many have previously attempted graphic designs of the same nature, but never before have I seen it done so convincingly as this particular example. A simple Google search of ‘zebra car’, and you’ll know what I am talking about.
For Gareth, this project started a year ago, when he swapped his supercharged B7 Audi RS4 for what was then a simple, stock white Evo. Finding the German muscle a bit too heavy for the track, Gareth sought something he could specifically build as a time attack car. The reins were then handed over to All Star Garage in Perth, who specialise in Mistubishis and Subarus, to transform the blank canvas into something worthy of the World Time Attack Challenge.
And what a long year it has been for the driver, car and workshop… The first time the car underwent testing at Barbagallo Raceway, the dry sump system failed, ripping a hole through the oil pump and sending metal through the motor. The second attempt at testing with the freshly rebuilt motor saw the Evo heading back to the workshop, this time with bent valves, in need of a head rebuild. Third attempt at testing, and yes, more bent valves. At the final testing day before WTAC, and after one engine rebuild and two head rebuilds, the car was plagued again, with the head lifting and essentially meeting a complete demise. This sparked extreme disappointment for Garerth and the team, who had put much effort into getting the car ready for the long journey across to WTAC. After an expensive and frustrating few outings, All Star decided to scrap the troublesome long motor from the USA, and look for a different aftermarket manufacturer. That same day, Gareth ordered a new 2.37L engine from Norris Designs in the UK, which now sits comfortably in the place of it’s unreliable AMS predecessor.
The engine is making 610 zebra-power atw with 22psi thanks to a Garrett GT4202R and Motec M800 plug-n-play, tuned by Sean at All Star Garage. Behind the front bar is a 1000hp PWR custom front mount intercooler and oil cooler, and a smaller, time attack focussed Koyo radiator. Along with the engine also came a new billet dry sump system.
Gareth swapped the OEM Brembo kit in favour of MOV’IT brakes from Germany, after previously having a set on his RS4. This brand is still relatively unknown in Australia, and are usually spied on European makes, not Japanese. They rest inside a set of special order Eneki PF01 wheels, of course in matt black to keep with the overall theme. Helping the Evo adapt to its wider footprint and plump semis, Brett at Wilkinson Suspension fitted a set of KW Clubsport coilovers with a heavier spring rate, and manufactured custom front adjustable top strut mounts for camber and castor adjustment. Continuing with the European trend of aftermarket performance parts, the Evo is also fitted with a Drenth sequential 5spd dogbox from the Netherlands.
The interior has been completely stripped and fitted with an OMP roll cage from Italy, carbon doors sourced from UK, Motec ADL2 dash logger and many other goodies you would expect to find in a car of WTAC standards.
Given the car’s dappled history, I feel fortunate enough to have actually seen it in action. If all goes according to plan for Gareth, we should see him waving the flag for Western Australia at WTAC 2012.
Many thanks to the ever talented Luke Hobbs for coming on board as a guest photographer this month. To view more of Luke’s work, please click here.