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2007 Rally of WA

  1. EVANS WINS SECOND STRAIGHT RALLY, BATES WRITES HISTORY
  2. EVANS CONTINUES DOMINATION IN DIFFICULT CONDITIONS
  3. TRD 1-2 ON SOAKED ROADS IN HEAT 2
  4. BATES COMPLETES CLEAN SWEEP OF BUSSELTON
  5. EVANS MAINTAINS 100 PER CENT RECORD IN 2007
  6. EVANS REMAINS IN FRONT AMID DRAMA
  7. EVANS RETURNS TO TOP OF TIMESHEETS
  8. BATES MAKES HISTORY
  9. BATES GOES FASTEST IN PRACTICE

EVANS WINS SECOND STRAIGHT RALLY, BATES WRITES HISTORY


Toyota's Simon Evans has continued his dominant start to the 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship, winning his fourth straight heat on the way to winning the Quit Forest Rally WA.

Team mate Neal Bates made history in the event by becoming the first driver to score an ARC podium at the wheel of a Super 2000 car.

Evans has now claimed all four heats in the 2007 season, as well as both bonus points to claim the absolute maximum points after two events.

The reigning champion won every one of today's eight stages, to have a total of 15 stage wins out of a possible 20.

Evans' remarkable car control was on show for all to see in the diabolical conditions of Heat 2.

The rain was heavy and frequently intervened throughout the second day of forest stages, causing extremely difficult conditions all day.

Neal Bates wrote two lots of ARC history by winning the first ever podium place for an S2000 car, and winning the first stage by an S2000 car at the Busselton Super Special Stage on Friday night.

Bates finished his two events with the current shape Corolla S2000 development car with another second place heat result.

After a tough day at the office in Heat 1, with oversteer, rear differential and engine problems, Bates mastered the harsh and slippery conditions of Heat 2 to make it a TRD first and second in Heat 2.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"As they say, to finish first, first you have to finish. That was tough - those last few stages were really scary. It was so wet and it was the ultimate challenge. It wasn't so much about going flat-out, but about surviving the dangerous stuff, and pushing a little bit more where you knew there was grip. I really enjoyed that because you had to think hard about the way you attacked it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to back up from our result in Queensland, and it wasn't easy to do that. Right now, I'm over the moon but I'm also quite relieved."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"We've got to be very happy with that. Going into the last three stages today we could have been second or we could have been fourth, and we came out with second in the heat. We tried as hard as we could here and that was the best we could do. The car is quite overweight for an S2000 car, but we've learned an awful lot over the last couple of rallies. It's certainly going to be a challenge to have the new car ready for the next round, but we're certainly applying things that we are learning to it."


Quit Forest Rally WA - Heat 2.
Final results:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 54:27.2
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +53.2
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +59.5
4) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 +1:15.9
5) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 +2:28.4
6) Robert Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX PRC +2:42.1




Quit Forest Rally WA - Heat 1.
Final Results:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 1:02:14.4
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +29.1
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:02.3
4) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 +1:17.8
5) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +2:00.9
6) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 +2:01.9



Quit Forest Rally WA.
Overall Results:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 81 points
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 64
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 64
4) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 52
5) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 44
6) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 38



NEC Australian Rally Championship
Standings after Round 2:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 162 points
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 108
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 98
4) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 74
=5) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 70
=5) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 70

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EVANS CONTINUES DOMINATION IN DIFFICULT CONDITIONS


Simon Evans has further increased his lead in Heat 2 of the Quit Forest Rally WA as drivers face constantly changing road conditions.

The last three stages saw roads dry out to a degree before the rain returned to again wet the stages.

Evans, the reigning event champion, has won all five of today's stages to open up a 35.3s over the improving Ford Fiesta of Michael Guest.

He took SS15 by 2.2s, SS16 by 0.9s and took another 7.1s out of the field on SS17.

Neal Bates dropped to third place on SS16 after Guest set the second fastest time on the stage, however he took 3.9s out of the Ford driver on SS17 to close the gap to just 3.6s.

Conditions are only getting worse for teams as rain continues to pour down ahead of the event's last three stages.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"I'm really enjoying it out there - it's a challenge. One corner is quite slippery and then the next one has reasonable grip. The changing conditions make it really tough and you've got to concentrate on staying on the ball. We're just doing a wheel alignment now because the steering is a little off after a few knocks. You come across that slippery corner and you wind on the full lock, so there are a few heart-in-mouth moments out there, but I'm enjoying trying to stay on top of that."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"It was very slippery this morning and then it got better, but now it's started raining heavily again, so these next stages will be incredibly slippery. I think it's going to be a lot of hard work this afternoon. Michael Guest is driving very well, but we're less than four seconds behind him - we'll be pushing as hard as we can to catch him."

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TRD 1-2 ON SOAKED ROADS IN HEAT 2


Toyota's Simon Evans and Neal Bates sit first and second after two stages this morning on rain-soaked roads in Heat 2 of the Quit Forest Rally WA.

Evans took the lead from his team mate on SS13 first up this morning, after Bates had established a 2.0s lead over him at last night's Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage.

The reigning NEC Australian Rally Champion was fastest on SS13, setting a time 6.2s faster than his nearest rival, Dean Herridge.

Evans then took out SS14 by 3.7s from Ford's Michael Guest to establish a 13.3s advantage over his team mate.

Bates was cautious over the sodden surface in SS13, recording the fourth fastest time.

He then overtook Subaru's Dean Herridge for second place in Heat 2 with the third fastest time on SS14.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"The organisers have done a fantastic job. They had put caution signs wherever it was really slippery - I had a bit more confidence in the roads by the end of those two stages. The roads are very reasonable considering the amount of rain they've had. I wouldn't say they're predictable but they are consistent. We were very steady in there - not too aggressive and making sure we get through."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The roads probably weren't as slippery as we expected them to be. I was a bit cautious in the first one, but the second stage was better. I'm not really a fan of wet conditions, but the car was pretty good and we're in the fight. I don't think you can ever trust the available grip in these conditions because it changes from corner to corner and you've just got to go on gut feeling really."

There are another three stages this morning before the day's second and final service period.

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BATES COMPLETES CLEAN SWEEP OF BUSSELTON


TRD's Neal Bates has stormed to a clean sweep of the Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage with another two stage wins tonight.

Bates was the fastest driver on both super special stages that opened Heat 1 last night, and he repeated the effort tonight on the 2.16 kilometre tarmac stage.

The Toyota team boss began Heat 2 with a 1m33.7s on the clockwise SS11, before lowering that time to 1m32.6s on the anti-clockwise SS12.

These times saw Bates open up a 2.0s lead over his team mate Simon Evans, who sits second, after 4.32km of rallying.

Evans, who won Heat 1 today, completed the circuit with times of 1m34.2s and 1m34.1s to be 1.4s ahead of third-placed Dean Herridge going into tomorrow's forest stages.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"Just like last night, we just wanted to come out of these stages unscathed and close to the front. And just like last night, that's exactly what happened. We went a bit quicker tonight though, and it was good fun. But it gets serious again on the gravel tomorrow morning."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"I've said it a million times, but I love it when we get on the tarmac. Both of my runs went really well tonight. It looks like the boys have done a great job in fixing the engine misfire from this afternoon, because it was fine tonight. I'm looking forward to tomorrow now - hopefully we can have a smoother day than today."

Heat 2 of the Quit Forest Rally continues tomorrow morning, with eight more stages in the forests surrounding Nannup.

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EVANS MAINTAINS 100 PER CENT RECORD IN 2007


Toyota's Simon Evans today won his third straight event out of three to start the 2007 championship.

Evans backed up his two heat wins in the first round in Queensland by taking out the first heat in Round 2 at the Quit Forest Rally WA.

The Victorian won seven stages in Heat 1, with team mate Neal Bates winning the two Super Special Stages to start the heat last night.

Simon and co-driver wife Sue had a perfect day, barely putting a wheel wrong over the day's eight stages.

The result sees Evans extend his championship lead to an already imposing 47 points.

Neal Bates toiled away at the wheel of his Super 2000 development Corolla and came away with third place to move up to second in the championship.

Bates fought chronic oversteer in the morning, had a rear differential change at the day's second service and came through an intermittent engine problem in the afternoon to record a promising third place for the S2000 car.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"We're halfway there - that was a good day. We had a good, clean run for the whole day - I pushed a little bit harder in the last few stages this afternoon. Those last two long stages were swept so there was more grip and I felt a little bit more confident. I've been trying hard to drive fast, clean and not have any moments. We're running softer springs than we did in Queensland and it has been bottoming out a bit - we've done some sump guard damage, but it's holding up well. The car is handling so incredibly well that the boys are happy to throw more sump guards at it. I can't wait to get back in the forest tomorrow."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"That was a pretty tough day - we had a few niggling little problems all day. The whole idea between running this car is to test and develop this thing and make it faster, and we spent the day doing that. At the end of today I am very happy to have got third place after that. The boy's did a great job to change and rectify and make the car better over the day. We had bad oversteer this morning, there was a vibration in the rear diff earlier and we had a misfire in the last few stages this afternoon. I think we all learned a lot today and we still got a really good result out of it, all things considered."

Crews return to Busselton Showgrounds tonight for the first two stages of Heat 2, before completing the event with another eight stages in the forest tomorrow.



Quit Forest Rally WA - Heat 1

Final results:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 40:38.1
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +18.6
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +34.0
4) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 +57.0
5) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 +1:28.6
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:30.5


2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship - points.

After Heat 1 - Round 2, Quit Forest Rally WA:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N(P) 121 points
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 74
3) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 70
4) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 68
=5) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta S2000 48
=5) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta S2000 48

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EVANS REMAINS IN FRONT AMID DRAMA


Simon Evans has extended his lead in the Quit Forest Rally WA after another two stages.

Evans was a mere 0.5s behind Dean Herridge on SS5, before taking out yet another stage win on SS6, 3.8s ahead of the Subaru.

Meanwhile, Neal Bates' crew had fixed the car's oversteer from the day's first two stages - he recorded a pair of third place finishes to consolidate his third place in the Heat 1 standings.

At the second service of the day, Bates felt something was wrong with the rear differential. The team subsequently changed the differential as a precaution in the 20 minute service period.

However the latest two stages were marred by a large crash involving Simon Evans' brother Eli in his Subaru on SS5.

The younger of the Evans brothers left the road and his car caught fire. Fortunately both Evans and his co-driver Chris Murphy were uninjured.

As other drivers stopped to help put out the fire, every driver other than Simon Evans, Bates and Herridge received derived times.

It was business as usual, however, for the elder brother, Simon entering service with a solid lead.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"Those stages were really slippery. It was good fun to drive because the car was sliding around a lot, but it wasn't fast. The car's perfect - the boys are just doing a wheel alignment now because when they changed the struts from last night's tarmac set-up to the gravel set-up this morning they did not get time to do one. It's only a couple of millimetres here and there so it doesn't stress me out too much. The tyres were great, we had no tyre wear in those last two stages at all."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The car was handling a lot better in those stages. It is still too heavy [for the S2000 minimum weight of 1150kg], but once we get that weight out it looks promising. The last two stages were unbelievably slippery, particularly SS5. That probably made it a bit harder to modulate the power because you get more wheelspin. I think we've got a problem in the rear diff - I'm not sure that there is anything wrong with it, but they're going to change it anyway."

Four more stages remain in Heat 1 of the Quit Forest Rally WA.

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EVANS RETURNS TO TOP OF TIMESHEETS


Toyota's reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has won the third and fourth stages of Quit Forest Rally WA to take the lead in Heat 1.

Evans sat equal third after last night's Super Special Stages in Busselton, just 3.0s behind team mate Neal Bates, who led heading into today's running.

However, Evans took charge when the rally hit the forest this morning, winning SS3 by 2.9s from Bates, and taking SS4 by 9.9s from Dean Herridge.

While Bates set the second fastest time on SS3, he struggled with oversteer on SS4, setting the fourth fastest time, 19.8s behind Evans.

After four stages, Evans now leads Heat 1 by 15.3s from Herridge, who leads Bates by 4.4s.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"It wasn't as slippery as I thought it would be out there. The first stage was just about finding my feet, because I was a little surprised by how much grip there was. I thought the second stage would have to be as grippy as the first one so I stepped it up a notch. It was a good clean run - the stages are in fantastic condition. There are a lot of little shrubs and blackberry bushes hanging over the edge of the road and I've been giving the intercooler a bit of a hiding - it's full of blackberries and bits of shrub that the boys are now going to have to clean out."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The first stage was very good. But I think I probably chose too soft a tyre in the second stage and it was very loose towards the end of it. The car's been good and we're making some changes to a few things now to try and fix the oversteer.and make it a bit quicker.

There are another two stages before crews return to the service park.

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BATES MAKES HISTORY


TRD's Neal Bates has made history by becoming the first driver to win a stage of the Australian Rally Championship at the wheel of a Super 2000 car at the Quit Forest Rally WA.

Bates continued his superiority on the Busselton Toyota Super Special Stages that opened Heat 1 of the event last night, winning both runs under lights around the Busselton Showground, and establishing a 2.5s lead in just 4.32km of rallying.

The Toyota team boss completed both SS1 and SS2 in a time of 1m32.7s, leading the field by 1.1s in the first run, and 0.9s on the second.

Bates is the master of this Super Special Stage, setting the fastest time on all four runs in last year's event.

Meanwhile, Simon Evans drove his plan around the barrier-lined circuit, staying out of trouble but still setting some respectable times.

His two runs of 1m34.1s and 1m34.3s see him sitting equal third with Dean Herridge, 3.0s behind his team boss.

Simon's brother Eli is just 0.5s ahead of them in second place.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"The plan was just to be nice and clean here - try not to do anything silly and come away close enough to the front. As they say, you can't win the rally here, but you can lose it. Neal does an awesome job on the tarmac here, those times are pretty impressive. I can't wait to get on the loose stuff in the morning though."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"It's an honour to be the first stage-winner in an S2000 car - we are really working hard on S2000 at the moment so that's a nice little reward. It's good to win here again, but we've still got a big job ahead of us in the forest tomorrow. There are plenty of people here tonight too, which is good to see - the super special stages that have been held here and in Queensland have been extremely well attended."

There are eight more stages remaining in Heat 1 in the forests surrounding Nannup today, before another to Super Special Stages kick off Heat 2 tonight.

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BATES GOES FASTEST IN PRACTICE


The TRD team was first and second in practice today for Round 2 of the NEC Australian Rally Championship, the Quit Forest Rally WA.

Neal Bates was at the head of the field for the 2.8 kilometre tarmac stage with a time of 1m32.20s in his Super 2000 Corolla.

Team mate Simon Evans was fractionally slower with a best time of 1m33.97s in the Group N(P) Corolla he used to win the Quit Forest Rally last year.

The 2.16 kilometre circuit used for today's shakedown comprises two laps around a 1.08 kilometre track.

It is the same stretch of road around the Busselton Showgrounds that will form the basis of tonight's opening set of two Super Special Stages.

For the first Super Special Stage drivers will complete the circuit twice in a clockwise direction for SS1, before then taking to the circuit for two more laps in an anti-clockwise direction in what should be a spectacular start to the event.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N(P):
"The car is great - there's not much more I can say. It is like an extension of me now - everytime I get in it the thing just feels so comfortable. This stage is always a bit of fun. We don't get to do too much running on tarmac and the fact that it is so short means we can throw it around a bit and enjoy it. It should be really interesting for the fans tonight.

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"Obviously I enjoy running around here because I have had so much experience running on tarmac. However, you can't read much into the times that are set here because it is nothing like the roads out in the forest - which make up 95 per cent of the rally. The S2000 car is feeling better all the time, so I'll be very interested to see what sort of results we can achieve with it here."

The Quit Forest Rally will be the final rally for Bates' current shape Super 2000 Corolla, as the team plans to debut the new shape car at the next round in Canberra.

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