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2007 Rally of Canberra

  1. EVANS DEMOLISHES FIELD TO CLAIM HAT-TRICK
  2. BATES SNATCHES SECOND AS EVANS MAINTAINS THE RAGE
  3. TRD WELL PLACED AFTER FIRST TWO STAGES OF HEAT 2
  4. EVANS SLAYS ALL COMERS
  5. EVANS CRUSHES OPPOSITION AS BATES FIGHTS BACK
  6. BATES SUFFERS PUNCTURE AS EVANS BUILDS HUGE LEAD
  7. AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST SKIER MEETS AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST RALLY DRIVER

EVANS DEMOLISHES FIELD TO CLAIM HAT-TRICK


Toyota's Simon Evans today completed a hat-trick of NEC Australian Rally Championship victories at the Capital Rally in Canberra.

After winning the first round in Queensland and the second round in Western Australia, the defending ARC champion once again claimed the maximum 81 points for the third event in succession.

It was a flawless performance from Evans and co-driver wife Sue, who repeated the astonishing feat of winning every single ARC stage in the event - something they first achieved in Queensland earlier this year.

Cumulative times at the end of both rally heats saw the husband and wife duo finish 3m09.7s ahead of their nearest ARC competitor, Dean Herridge.

Such was Evans' performance that he even demoralised the coinciding Asia Pacific Rally Championship round - an impressive 1m22.9s ahead of its leading driver, Subaru's Cody Crocker.

TRD team mate Neal Bates stormed home in Heat 2 to pass Herridge for second place in the heat midway through the day.

However, a cut tyre caused by a sharp rock in Heat 1 cost the Canberra local valuable time and second place - he eventually finished in third place overall, just 26.7s behind Herridge.

It was a truly remarkable performance from Bates in his brand new Super 2000 Corolla's debut event - the car ran without a problem all weekend, and set some impressive times.

Evans has dominated the first half of his title defence, winning 48 out of 53 ARC stages this season in the same car that he won last year's championship in.

He now leads the championship from team mate Neal Bates by 71 points (242 points to 172 points) after claiming the maximum 81 points at all three rounds to date.

Neal Bates' four stage wins in WA mean that TRD has now won 52 out of 53 stages held in the 2007 season.

It was Evans who justifiably received the plaudits for his astonishing performance.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"I had a ball at this event - I reckon I was giggling to myself for half of it. It just goes to show that all of the hard work pays off. Everything that the team does and that I do is all paying off at the moment. I earmarked yesterday as my day because it was really technical, tight and very difficult to read the roads - I've always been strong in those types of stages. The roads today were a lot less technical, there was more grip available and they were easier to read - the sort of stages where everyone tends to be close together. It's a great start to the season, and it is exactly what I wanted to achieve - but I've got a lot more to achieve this year. We had a problem in Canberra last year and we really wanted to make up for that this time - I think we've done a pretty good job of that. Beating Cody Crocker in the APRC was a personal goal of mine, and we did that this weekend too - I'm feeling very fulfilled at the moment but there is a long way to go this season."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"For this car's very first rally, this is an incredibly good result. It is probably the toughest rally in the country and to come through that totally unscathed, apart from an unfortunate cut tyre is a real credit to the team. There has been an enormous amount of work go into the building of this car. They are an amazingly talented group of people that have put together a great car. To do what we did over this weekend with a totally new car was remarkable. When it came down to the fight for second at the end of Heat 2, we had the speed - if it wasn't for the cut tyre yesterday we would have been second overall as well. We need to get a bit more grip from the car, and hopefully we can get some more weight out of it, but I am very satisfied with where we are starting from.

The NEC Australian Rally Championship now has a two month break before heading to South Australia for Round 4 of the championship on August 11-12.


Capital Rally - Heat 1
Final results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 1:18:07.3
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:56.8
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +2:37.5
4) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +3:43.8
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +3:51.0
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +4:48.4


Capital Rally - Heat 2
Final results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 1:05:51.5
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +58.5
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:12.9
4) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:19.4
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +1:30.6
6) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:44.1


Capital Rally
Overall results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 2:23:58.8
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +3:09.7
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +3:36.0
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +5:21.6
5) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +5:27.9
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +7:27.4

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BATES SNATCHES SECOND AS EVANS MAINTAINS THE RAGE


TRD's Simon Evans has increased his lead in the Capital Rally after another three stages.

Evans was again the fastest of all ARC competitors in the group of stages, to continue his unbeaten stretch in the event.

Asia Pacific Rally Championship competitors Jussi Valimaki (Mitsubishi) and Cody Crocker (Subaru) managed to pip Evans on two stages, but the Victorian is still 1m26.3s ahead of Crocker over the two days of competition.

The defending ARC champion admitted he was taking things a little more cautiously on the rough and rocky roads in Kowen Forest.

Neal Bates had a stunning middle group of stages, catching and overtaking the Subaru of Dean Herridge.

The fast, open and flat corners aided the Super 2000 cars, and Bates made the most of the benefit, setting the second fastest time of the ARC competitors on the 12th and 13th stages.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"Those last three stages were a bit rougher, but they also had more grip. They aren't as technical as the morning stages or yesterday's stages. Everyone is a lot closer today - a couple of the APRC guys took two stages from us in there. I wasn't pushing too hard because we've got such a good lead. I'm not pushing as hard into the corners - I'm really making sure of my lines. I'm still driving fast, but I'm taking extra care to make sure I get through the corners. The roads out there are so rough and hard on the cars, but my Corolla is just as strong as ever."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The three stages we just did probably suited the S2000 car a bit better. They were a little bit faster, there were fewer tight turns and less climbs up hills, so I enjoyed it. It was still very tough on the cars - you wonder sometimes how you don't damage the cars or get a puncture. It was great to overtake Dean and our aim is to stay in front now. We re-do two of those stages now. Crocker was quick in the APRC during our first run over them, and Dean has the same car, so he could go fast enough to make it difficult."

Just two more stages and 33km remain in the Capital Rally.


Capital Rally - Heat 2
Results after SS13:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 46:11.1
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +50.1
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +55.1
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +59.0
5) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:00.8
6) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:22.4

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TRD WELL PLACED AFTER FIRST TWO STAGES OF HEAT 2


Simon Evans has continued on his merry way in the Capital Rally, winning the first two stages of Heat 2 this morning.

Today's first two sessions were a re-run of the Oakey Creek and Mineshaft stages from yesterday - drivers using the swept roads to dramatically lower their stage times.

The Capital Rally is unique in the ARC in that the overall rally results are cumulative of both heats.

As a result, Evans has now built a lead of 2m21.3s over Subaru's Dean Herridge, with TRD team mate Neal Bates in third.

Evans now also leads Heat 2 by 24.5s over Herridge.

His gap to the Asia Pacific Rally Championship frontrunner Cody Crocker has grown to 1m26.2s.

Neal Bates' encountered problems with dust on the first two stages today with a seal on the hatch coming loose, meaning dust poured in.

Bates sits third in the overall and Heat 2 standings, 46.6s behind Herridge overall and 5.9s behind him in Heat 2.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"That was actually a lot better than yesterday. After the field swept the roads the conditions were much nicer. There were a few big rocks floating around on the road - I had to dodge them and avoid them, and there was even an APRC car on the road that had rolled. You're just trying to go as fast as you can without hitting anything - that's the goal. Sometimes I felt like a bit of a pinball bouncing around the roads out there, but so far it's all gone to plan."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The tyre we chose was probably slightly too hard for the cold conditions in the first stage, but it was a bit better in the second one. The only real problem was the rubber coming off the rear hatch which meant that we had an enormous amount of dust in the car, making vision very difficult at times. It was such a small problem, but the amount of dust inside made it really tough - apart from that everything was fine."

Drivers now head from the western side of the Australian Capital Territory to the north east corner and the next group of three stages in Kowen Forest.


Capital Rally - Heat 2
Results after SS10:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 20:43.1
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +24.5
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +30.4
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +32.5
5) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +38.2
6) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +47.7

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EVANS SLAYS ALL COMERS


Simon Evans today continued his stunning form in the NEC Australian Rally Championship, winning all of Heat 1's eight stages to secure his fifth straight heat win of the 2007 season.

No one got close to the defending series champion's stage times all day as he went on to finish a massive 1m56.8s ahead of his nearest ARC rival, Dean Herridge.

Evans also thrashed the Asia Pacific Rally Championship field, finishing 1m20.4s ahead of its leading driver, Subaru's Cody Crocker.

The Victorian driver has now won an astonishing 41 stages out of 46 for the season in the same Group N (P) Corolla in which he and co-driver wife Sue won last year's championship.

Team mate Neal Bates staged an impressive comeback in the day's middle group of stages after a puncture on today's second stage.

The Canberra local dropped from second in the ARC to fifth after the problem, before fighting back to third with two stages remaining.

The cut tyre had placed Bates too far behind Herridge to attack for second, so the TRD team boss consolidated third place in the final two stages.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"I thought the Queensland heats were pretty good - I never thought I would top that, until today. I guess I'm just in the groove - everyone else must be taking it a bit too cautiously. The roads were incredibly rough with a lot of rocks on the road - I was surprised we didn't get a puncture. I'm just thinking about the processes I go through during the rally. It's great to be leading by this far, but we've got another day tomorrow and now I've got to think about that. The other guys will be quicker tomorrow because there will be more grip on a lot of the stages, and they aren't quite as technical. They should be pushing me more tomorrow.

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"We had a really good day beside the puncture on the third stage. We had a fogging windscreen this afternoon too - but if that's as bad as it gets on a car's debut, then I can't complain at all! Third was as good as we could do after the puncture - and we achieved that. Besides Simon we were quicker than the other cars - so to be that close to the pace with the car's first run is exciting for us. Our aim for tomorrow is to have TRD finishing first and second."

Rally action resumes tomorrow in Canberra, with Heat 2 of the Capital Rally.


Capital Rally - Heat 1
Final results:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 1:18:07.3
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:56.8
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +2:37.5
4) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +3:43.8
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +3:51.0
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +4:48.4

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EVANS CRUSHES OPPOSITION AS BATES FIGHTS BACK


Reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has continued his crushing demonstration on the Canberra roads - now leading the Capital Rally by a whopping 1m19.7s, from Subaru's Dean Herridge.

The Victorian won the day's middle three stages for a total of six out of six stage wins in Heat 1.

Meanwhile, Neal Bates has staged an incredible comeback in the last three stages, after dropping significant time with a puncture in SS3.

Bates recorded some impressive stage times in the brand new S2000 Corolla after dropping back to fifth as a result of the puncture.

The TRD team boss caught and passed the Subaru of Will Orders and the Mitsubishi of Spencer Lowndes to claim third place by the day's second service.

The ARC's Canberra round also plays host to a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Such is Evans' performance that so far he has been an amazing 53.4s faster than the APRC leader, Subaru's Cody Crocker.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"Everything has been on the money today - we're just doing our own thing and the times have been coming. I haven't had anything that I would call a moment - it's been pretty smooth. The steering wheel's pulling over to the left a bit, but it doesn't seem to matter too much on the gravel - the boys are looking at it now. We can't back off too much now, because as soon as you back off, your focus drops and you can make mistakes. Right now, I don't feel like I'm going that fast and I haven't scared myself yet, so the plan is to keep going like we have been."

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"I'm obviously very happy with those three stages. The car was great - it clearly doesn't have the pace of Simon's, but it has been pretty good to date. The pace of the car is probably about where I thought it would be. There's more work to be done, but it is definitely a good starting point. There have been a lot of rocks out on the roads, which have been a pain in the neck, but otherwise they are in good shape. We'll keep pushing hard, but we're over 30 seconds behind Dean [Herridge] so the chances of catching him are almost impossible."

Two more stages remain in Heat 1, including the day's final stage which will be held in the dark.


Capital Rally - Heat 1
Results after SS6:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 56:11.0
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:19.7
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:51.8
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +2:02.0
5) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +2:42.7
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +3:35.8

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BATES SUFFERS PUNCTURE AS EVANS BUILDS HUGE LEAD


Toyota's Simon Evans has established a massive 35.1s lead over Subaru's Dean Herridge after the first three stages in the Capital Rally.

Evans has blitzed the field to date in winning last night's opening 10km stage and backing it up to win this morning's first two stages - in a continuation of his dominating form this year.

Team mate Neal Bates set the second fastest time on last night's stage and also on the morning's first stage in a promising start to the new Super 2000 Corolla's debut.

However, the local driver's progress was halted on the infamous Mineshaft stage when he encountered a puncture before the stage's halfway mark.

The problem saw Bates drop from second place to fifth.

It was yet another impressive start for Evans and his co-driver wife Sue on the challenging Canberra roads.

Simon Evans, Car #1, Group N (P):
"I'm really happy with that start. The roads are very typical for Canberra - you've just got to be really tidy and watch your lines. A lot of the young guys are going out there and taking lots of risks, driving a bit silly and throwing them all over the joint. We're just trying to stay out of trouble and keep it in the middle of the road, because it is very narrow in places. Last night was great - I really enjoy night rallying. Hella has been personally sponsoring me for a long time, and it was fantastic to finally put that to good use and win a stage thanks to them!"

Neal Bates, Car #2, S2000:
"The puncture was a bit of a shame because the car was going really well in its first few competitive stages ever. A big rock had been dragged out on the road - we couldn't avoid it and it cut the tyre. We lost the best part of a minute as a result. To be second fastest in the car's very first two competitive stages was very satisfying. We're not out of it after the puncture, but it's going to be hard work from here on."

There are three more stages before the day's next service.


Capital Rally - Heat 1
Results after SS3:

1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (P) 27:44.9
2) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +35.1
3) Will Orders Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +48.1
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +56.0
5) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:17.0
6) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +2:07.3

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AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST SKIER MEETS AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST RALLY DRIVER


Australian world record speed skier Michael Milton today went on a wild ride of a different kind, with Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans.

Toyota's championship-leader thrilled the six-time paralympic gold medalist in his Corolla at shakedown for the Rally of Canberra in Kowen Forest.

Milton is the fastest Australian skier ever, and holds the world speed skiing record for an athlete with a disability at 213.65km/h - a feat achieved on one leg.

He has won six paralympic gold medals, including a haul of four at the Salt Lake City winter games, which earned him the title of Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a disability.

Just this year, Milton was a finalist in the Australian of the Year award.

The respect was mutual between the NEC Australian Rally Champion and Australia's fastest skier.

"It was a thrilling thing to do, and a wonderful opportunity to be able to go out there and experience what another speed lover does, and what he feels at home and comfortable in," said Milton.

"I definitely wasn't at home or comfortable, but it was a great experience.

"We would go into a corner at a speed that felt way too fast for me, and never having been in a rally car you just don't understand how the car can possibly get through but it just does.

"It was so cool to be able to go fast and feel fear, and feel alive!

"It was comforting to know that Simon's a professional in what he does - I could just trust him, sit back and enjoy the ride - kind of..."

Simon Evans was equally thrilled by the opportunity.

"It was a privilege to meet Michael and take him for a spin today," he said.

"When you look at the amazing things he has achieved, he's a pretty inspirational guy.

"Considering he skis down the side of mountains at over 200km/h on one leg, I didn't like my chances of scaring him today.

"I was right - you can tell he enjoys the speed."

Milton has switched his attention to an attempt at qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic cycling team - for which he is currently embroiled in intensive training.

The Canberra native will have another tilt at his own speed skiing record after the Paralympics.

The car of Evans and the brand new Super 2000 Corolla of team mate Neal Bates came through a rough shakedown stage for Rally Canberra unscathed today.

Evans currently leads the NEC Australian Rally Championship on 162 points, from Bates on 108 points.

Both drivers are eagerly anticipating the start of the event tonight in the exciting Bluetts evening stage.

Rally action continues throughout Saturday and Sunday.

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