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2007 Great Lakes Rally

  1. EVANS TAKES MASSIVE LEAP TOWARDS CHAMPIONSHIP
  2. SLIP AND SLIDE IN HEAT 2
  3. TOYOTA WINS SECOND STRAIGHT ARC MANUFACTURERS' TITLE
  4. PRIMED FOR A NEW CHALLENGE

EVANS TAKES MASSIVE LEAP TOWARDS CHAMPIONSHIP


Reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has taken a giant step to regaining his title with another two heat wins and overall victory in the Great Lakes Rally in New South Wales.

Team mate Neal Bates stormed home for second place in Heat 2 and his fifth place in Heat 1 saw him second overall for the round.

The result sees Evans open up an almost unbeatable 119 point lead (only 121.5 points are available in the final round) over Bates in the ARC,

Evans claimed his ninth straight heat win for 2007 when he took out Heat 1 after it was stopped early due to safety concerns due to a major communications failure.

He made it ten in a row in Heat 2 - the last (and quickest) man standing in a torrid day's rallying.

Bates found himself in seventh place after two stages this morning, but fought back with some impressive speed in the afternoon stages to narrowly clinch second place by 0.5s from Ford's Michael Guest.

The Subaru of Steve Glenney was flying early in Heat 2, however an accident on Stage 11 ended his day early and allowed Evans to romp home untouched with nearly a minute on Bates.

Evans can now only be beaten to the championship if he fails to finish both heats at the final round, the NGK Rally of Melbourne, and Bates wins both.

The TRD team secured Toyota's second consecutive manufacturers' championship in Heat 1, and the result of Heat 2 means that only a TRD driver can now mathematically win the drivers' championship.

Being the first driver to tackle each stage, Evans found the day's first two stages - which were not used yesterday and had not had any dirt swept from the field - a difficult test.

Simon Evans, Group N (Prototype)
"The plan for today was to stay near the front in the first two stages and then capitalise on the last five which were swept from running on them yesterday. We really stepped on it then because we knew we would have more grip and the times just came to us. The difference between the morning and afternoon stages shows just how much we were sweeping the roads being first on stage. It wasn't looking magnificent for us at times this weekend and it shows that Neal and I aren't ever going to give up or crack under pressure. It really ended up being the perfect weekend with the team winning the manufacturers' championship and with us almost securing the drivers' championship. We're getting closer, but we still have a job to do in Melbourne - I can't wait to get there."

Neal Bates, Super 2000
"At no stage this morning did I think we could end up second - but we fought hard all day and came away with a good result. We really have a bit of a problem with the new car on fresh and loose surfaces. The car was almost undriveable this morning on the unswept roads - the wheels were locking under brakes and spinning way too much under power. As soon as we got on the swept roads with grip it was a lot better - but loose roads are a real problem. I have a few theories on what we need to fix, but we'll be working pretty hard before the next round to sort it out. It's ended up an amazing weekend and I can't believe we wrapped up the manufacturers' championship with a round and a half to go yesterday - despite all of the development work we've had to do on the S2000 car."

The NEC Australian Rally Championship's final round, the NGK Rally of Melbourne, will be run on the weekend of November 10-11.



NEC Australian Rally Championship
Great Lakes Rally - Heat 1
Final Results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype) 32:11.4
2) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +2.4
3) Steve Glenney Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +4.1
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +13.8
5) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000 +19.9
6) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +22.0

NEC Australian Rally Championship
Great Lakes Rally - Heat 2
Final Results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype) 52:07.4
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000 +58.8
3) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta Super 2000 +59.3
4) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +1:01.3
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +1:09.0
6) Darren Windus Ford Fiesta Super 2000 +1:25.1

NEC Australian Rally Championship
Great Lakes Rally
Overall Results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype)
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000
3) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N
4) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N
5) Glen Raymond Subaru Impreza WRX PRC
6) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N

NEC Australian Rally Championship
Standings after Round 5:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype) 403 points
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000 284
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 264
4) Brendan Reeves Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 182
=5) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 142
=5) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta Super 2000 142

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SLIP AND SLIDE IN HEAT 2


Drivers encountered slippery and loose road conditions on the first two stages of Heat 2 in the Great Lakes rally in New South Wales this morning.

SS8 and SS9 comprised stages that were not run yesterday after Heat 1 was stopped early.

Therefore the roads hadn't been swept and drivers spent the morning sliding all over the loose surface.

Simon Evans was the pioneer on the roads, being first car out. He set some respectable times and sits in second place at service.

Subaru driver Steve Glenney leads the heat by 12.9s from Evans.

Team mate Neal Bates suffered a cut tyre in SS8 which saw him lose time to the leaders.

Bates was perplexed at the lack of speed in the S2000 Corolla, given the handling of the car, adding that the team would make changes during service to try and remedy the issue.

Drivers now head to the same five stages that were run yesterday, which should mean swept roads, more grip and tumbling times.

Simon Evans, Group N (Prototype)
"That was really hard work. Those stages had a much finer gravel surface than yesterday's stages - that made them even more slippery. I'm pretty happy with where we are and we are still in a really good position for both the round and the championship. Steve Glenney is very quick out there, but it's not over yet. The next stages will be swept and I'm looking forward to setting some quicker times. The engine began overheating a little bit when we were waiting for that last stage to start because it ran quite late - it's cooled down now so it should be fine."

Neal Bates, Super 2000
"I'm a bit baffled as to why we are so slow. The car feels quick and seems to be handling really well, but the times just aren't coming - and we don't know why. It appears that when the road is really slippery the car just isn't working well. We are going to try a different tyre and play with the sway bars and shock settings - but I really don't know if that will make any difference. The next stages are swept from yestarday's running, so hopefully they won't be as slippery and it might work a little bit better."

Five stages remain in the Great Lakes Rally.


NEC Australian Rally Championship
Great Lakes Rally - Heat 2.
Results after SS9:
1) Steve Glenney Subaru Impreza WRX Group N 23:26.2
2) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype) +12.9
3) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +25.6
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +25.9
5) Michael Guest Ford Fiesta Super 2000 +31.8
6) Glen Raymond Subaru Impreza WRX PRC +33.3
7) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000 +34.4

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TOYOTA WINS SECOND STRAIGHT ARC MANUFACTURERS' TITLE


Team TRD has clinched Toyota's second straight manufacturers' championship in Heat 1 of the Great Lakes Rally in New South Wales.

Simon and Sue Evans won their ninth heat out of nine held this season, while Bates' fifth place was enough to defend the title for TRD.

With three heats remaining (Heat 2 of the Great Lakes Rally and two more at NGK Rally of Melbourne) TRD cannot be headed, while the Evans combination has taken another giant step towards defending their drivers' title.

Evans' remarkable run of heat victories in the 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship continued in a shortened Heat 1 of the Great Lakes Rally.

Teams completed five stages today before a major communications failure saw the day's proceedings brought to a close for safety reasons immediately after the day's first service.

Up until the day was stopped, Evans was busy continuing his form from the last round in South Australia, opening up a one second lead over his nearest rival (and brother), Eli Evans.

Team mate Neal Bates struggled with low grip in his new Super 2000 Corolla during the slippery morning stages.

The TRD team made some suspension changes to alter the set-up for the three times ARC champion, however Bates did not get to evaluate the new settings as the heat was stopped before the start of Stage 6.

Simon and Sue Evans have now won a stunning nine out of nine heats in this year's ARC as they continue the defence of their 2006 title. Their victory in the last heat of the 2006 season sees the couple with a total of ten straight heat wins.

Simon Evans, Group N (Prototype):
"The Corolla was unbelievable again today. We are really in the zone at the moment - I can't imagine being more at one with a car. It was pretty tight out there today - it's clear that everyone has lifted their game through the season. Eli was really quick, but we were lucky enough to have our nose in front when the heat was stopped. I am really happy with that because, being car number one, we were sweeping some pretty unfamiliar roads - to be quickest through them is a buzz. I was really concentrating on just being as smooth as possible through the stages. We're halfway through and we've got another tough day ahead of us tomorrow."

Neal Bates, Super 2000:
"It is an amazing ahievement to wrap up the manufacturers' championship so early when we've spent the year developing brand new technology in the S2000 car. I am over the moon and the entire team should be very proud of winning the title with three heats to spare. We suffered from a lack of grip in the first two stages this morning - I probably chose the wrong tyre and the set-up wasn't totally to my liking. I made some changes before the third stage which helped things quite a bit - we made some more changes at the service, but then the day was stopped. We should be in a better position for tomorrow."
The Great Lakes Rally continues tomorrow with Heat 2 hitting the forests around Forster on the NSW mid-north coast once again.

Great Lakes Rally, NSW - Heat 1.
Final results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla Group N (Prototype) 32:11.4
2) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +2.4
3) Steve Glenney Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +4.1
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO Group N +13.8
5) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Super 2000 +19.9
6) Dean Herridge Subaru Impreza WRX Group N +22.0

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PRIMED FOR A NEW CHALLENGE


TRD's Simon Evans and Neal Bates are primed and ready to tackle the Australian Rally Championship's newest event - the Great Lakes Rally.

The pair had their first look at the new event's 14 stages during Thursday's recce and both believe it is going to be a fast, technical rally.

Evans and his co-driver wife Sue will be aiming to win their fifth-straight rally and if results go their way, they can secure back-to-back titles this weekend.

Bates is excited about the challenge of driving on new stages in his new S2000 Corolla and believes reliability will be a key factor in securing a strong result.

Both TRD drivers were happy with their Corollas during shakedown this morning on a fast, flowing course in Coopernook Forest near Taree.

A famous name was on hand during shakedown in the form of ex-Hyundai WRC driver Alister McCrae who is in town to watch the Great Lakes Rally. Neal Bates took the Western Australia-based Scot for a ride in the S2000 Corolla.

Simon Evans, #1, Group N (P):
"The new stages are fantastic! The roads look really great and will really suit us as they are quite narrow, fast and technical. Although we are the first car and will be sweeping the roads, I think they will hold up really well and by Heat 2 we will really be able to push. I am not focussing on the championship - if we just get the job done this weekend then the overall result will come."

Neal Bates, #2: S2000:
"I think the stages will be quite tricky. They are very intense and will require a lot of hard work and concentration - but they do look fun. It is a slight concern for everyone that we only get to service the cars once a day, though the cars have been reliable all year and we don't aim for that to change this weekend. The roads have been graded recently so we might find they will chew up a bit over the weekend, but I don't expect it to be too bad."

Team TRD kick-off the Great Lakes Rally tomorrow morning when they hit the forests just north of Forster for the event's first stages.

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