Going out on top is what every sportsperson wants to do. After four Australian Rally co-driver's championships and an Asia Pacific Rally Championship title, Sue Evans shocked the rally community by announcing her retirement straight after the final round of this year's title chase, Rally Victoria.
Sitting alongside one of the fastest and most spectacular drivers Australia has ever seen is one thing, but being wife and mother to his children is another. Simon Evans is now on the look-out for a new co-driver while Sue will switch her rally focus to family and work interests.
Speedcafe spoke to Sue Evans about rallying, family and the future out of the co-driver's seat.
SPEEDCAFE: You really did shock the rally community with your decision?
SUE EVANS: No one knew. So when we accepted the Possum Bourne Australian Rally Championship Trophy and I announced my retirement it really did shock pretty much everyone.
SPEEDCAFE: Why retire from rallying
SE: After 12 years of co-driving, winning four Australian championships and an Asia Pacific Formula 2 title – it is the right time to go out on top. I'm really busy with work and the kids and it is time to put back into the family. Jackson is 16 and Eden is 13 – so as you can appreciate two high school children need plenty of attention. Plus my focus needs to be on the job that pays the bills! I manage a Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Centre and have five people working for me. That is on the up and being away up to eight weeks a year rallying was proving a challenge
SPEEDCAFE:It surprised many people – but did it include Simon?
SE: He knew it was coming but I have to say he was not super happy about it from a competition point of view. However, he certainly knew it was the right decision for the family. He just needs to find a new co-driver now. My decision doesn't mean his rally career is over. I can't ever see Simon not driving!
SPEEDCAFE:Had the enjoyment gone?
SE: I was still enjoying being in the car and calling the pace notes. For sure I will miss it. In fact the last event at Rally Victoria I felt that our combination was as good as it has ever been. Which did make the decision even tougher.
SPEEDCAFE: Plenty of people see you and Simon as the partnership – but your children also lived every moment?
SE: Rallying was so much to both of us. Plus we took it home every night and spoke about rallying around the dinner table with the entire family. Certainly after an accident the emotions of especially my daughter did change to the sport and that increased as she has gotten older. She was only four months when I started, so she never knew anything different. Jackson just always thought it was cool that his parents were rally stars! But if you asked them – they would be 100% having me continue, so my decision is not based just on them.
SPEEDCAFE:If the Peugeot IRC opportunity was still available would have you stayed in the sport?
SE: That would have been the only thing to change my decision. I am disappointed that we didn't get that chance this year. I know that Simon would have showed the world just how good a driver he is. It all looked very positive that we would be competing in the Czech Republic and Scotland, but in the end the situation changed and the budget increased significantly. I'm not bitter about it. We did test a factory supported Peugeot 307 Super 2000 car late last year and all the signs were positive. So then to ultimately not compete against the IRC teams is disappointing.
SPEEDCAFE:Does Simon still have the desire?
SE: If there is one thing that my decision will bring is the new challenge for Simon. Finding a new co-driver that can work to his level will not be easy. The last two years we have had a strong car – but plenty of others have had equal machinery. So in 2011 he will have a different co-driver and potentially a new car. So it will be a challenge on all fronts and I know that he will thrive on the challenge.
SPEEDCAFE:Will you be seen on events in 2011 with the team?
SE: Not straight away. I do not make a very good spectator. I will stay across what's happening – but actually being there might take some time.
Check out the Sue and Simon Evans video profile