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Rally of WA

  1. BATES CREATES HISTORY WITH RALLY WA WIN
  2. BATES SET FOR OVERALL VICTORY AS EVANS RETIRES
  3. TIGHT AT THE TOP EARLY IN HEAT 2
  4. TRD KICKS OFF HEAT 2 WITH ANOTHER 1-2
  5. EVANS CLAIMS FIRST S2000 HEAT WIN IN TRD 1-2
  6. EVANS EXTENDS AS BATES CLOSES ON SECOND
  7. EVANS TAKES LEAD AND WINS FIRST S2000 STAGES
  8. BATES BEATS ALL TO TAKE EARLY LEAD
  9. BATES FASTEST AHEAD OF WA SEASON OPENER

BATES CREATES HISTORY WITH RALLY WA WIN


Three-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates has won the opening round of the 2008 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) following a hard-fought victory in the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia, becoming the first driver to win an ARC round in an S2000 car.

Toyota Racing Development's Bates overhauled Michael Guest over the final three stages of the event to also claim victory in Heat 2, making up almost 12s on the Subaru driver during the last group of stages.

The overall win was the first for Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor since the opening round of the 2006 season in Canberra and maintains the team's run of consecutive outright victories that now stand at eight.

Team-mates Simon and Sue Evans retired with an engine problem whilst leading the rally on SS17, bringing an end to their run of 14-straight heat wins and marking the first time the team has had a retirement of any kind for more than two seasons.

The reigning champions were disappointed not to have completed the event, but gained a lot of valuable knowledge about how to get the most from their new S2000 Corolla.

Despite recording a DNF, Simon Evans did do enough to claim the event's bonus point for most stage wins.

Privateer Toyota driver Glen Raymond recorded his best ever heat finish by claiming fifth in Heat 2 on his debut outing in his ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla.

The next round of the ARC is the Capital Rally in Canberra on 10-11 May.

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"I'm absolutely delighted to be the first person to win in an Australian rally with an S2000 car. We drove very well today, much better than during Heat 1 and had a great fight with Guest. It is extremely satisfying, but I am very disappointed for Simon and Sue, they drove exceptionally well and deserved to win but when they stopped we were very happy to pick up the pieces. We have the best team of people and they deserve all the accolades here, these cars are just fantastic and everyone worked incredibly hard in the off-season and in the months leading up to this event. They produced the car that's done the job - I could not have asked for better."

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"At the time we retired the car was doing what I wanted it to do so that is positive. It is unfortunate we had the engine problem but we have had such a good run so we can't complain. Neal did a great job and it's good for the team that we picked up the win despite our retirement. I am really focussed on Canberra now and highly-motivated to bounce back there. I can't wait to get into it - I wish it started tomorrow."

Glen Raymond, Car #7 - Group N (P) Corolla
"We had a great result and although the car has taken a battering this weekend it is a testament to how well these Corollas are built that we were able to finish fifth in Heat 2. It is our best-ever heat result and to come on our debut with the car is promising."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally WA
Heat 2 - Final Results:
1) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 1:07:04.8
2) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +10.0
3) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX +54.3
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:24.3
5) Glen Raymond Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1:58.1
6) Roman Watkins Subaru Impreza WRX +2:18.2

Quit Forest Rally WA
Overall Results
1) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000
2) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX
3) Alex Stone Subaru Impreza WRX
4) Justin Dowel Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
5) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX
6) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000

Australian Rally Championship
Championship Standings
1) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 - 74 points
2) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX - 52
3) Justin Dowel Mitsubishi Lancer EVO - 48
4) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX - 43
5) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 - 41
6) Roman Watkins Subaru Impreza WRX - 38
=6) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO - 38

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BATES SET FOR OVERALL VICTORY AS EVANS RETIRES


TRD Rally Team's Neal Bates is on course for overall victory in the season-opening Quit Rally WA following the retirement of team-mate Simon Evans from the lead of the rally during SS17 due to a mechanical issue.

Bates now sits second in his S2000 Corolla heading into Heat 2's final three stages, only 1.7s behind new heat leader Michael Guest in a Subaru.

Evans won SS16 and held a comfortable 16s lead over Guest until he was forced out with a mechanical issue.

His retirement ends a championship-record run of 14 consecutive heat victories.

Three-time Australian champion Bates is well-positioned to secure overall victory following his second place in Heat 1, a heat Guest failed to finish due to his rollover.

Glen Raymond has made a solid comeback from his Heat 1 retirement and now sits fifth in Heat 2, 1m29.0s behind Guest.

Heat 2 of the Quit Forest Rally will be decided on the final three forest stages of the event, 60km inland from Busselton on Western Australia's south coast.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"I am obviously disappointed to retire from the lead of the rally. Everything was going really well and we had a comfortable lead up until we were forced out. The team have worked really hard on my new S2000 and I really enjoy driving it, but problems with new cars are not uncommon. It is a part of motorsport and to win 14-straight heats was an amazing achievement. The good thing for the team is that Neal is well-placed to win the rally and I will be hungrier than ever to win next time out in Canberra."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"Everything is going really well out there so we are really happy with our position. The car is handling well and we are only 1.7s behind Guest so we are in the prime position to push for both the heat and overall victory. Our last outright win was in Canberra at the start of 2006 so I hope we can do it again. Simon's retirement is disappointing and we will have to investigate the problem later, but the advantage of having two strong drivers in our team is that we can be there to challenge for the win should the other have a problem."

Glen Raymond, Car #7 - Group N (P) Corolla
"We are taking a cautious approach to Heat 2 but we are setting some consistent times and we are happy to be fifth heading into the last three stages."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally WA
Heat 2 - Results after SS17:
1) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +1.7
3) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX +23.5
4) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +56.6
5) Glen Raymond Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1:29.0
6) Roman Watkins Subaru Impreza WRX +1:37.6

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TIGHT AT THE TOP EARLY IN HEAT 2


Toyota duo Simon Evans and Neal Bates are locked in a tight battle for the lead of Heat 2 in the Quit Forest Rally, with the top five drivers separated by just 35.8s heading into the event's longest section of stages.

The heavy morning mist cleared and Evans and his co-driver wife Sue took the lead from Bates and his co-driver Coral Taylor, winning Sunday's opening stage, with Subaru drivers Michael Guest and Eli Evans following close behind.

Bates and Taylor fought back on the day's second stage, beating the two Evans brothers, Guest and Mitsubishi's Spencer Lowndes to close to within 4.7s of the Heat 2 lead.

Both Evans and Bates were pleased with the handling of their S2000 Corollas and made only minor adjustments ahead of the 44.94km of competitive action that awaits them in the forests around Nannup.

Privateer Toyota driver Glen Raymond rejoined the event last night at the start of Heat 2 following his low-speed rollover in Heat 1. He sits eighth overall more than one minute behind Evans.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"The changes we made last night and this morning has made the car much easier to drive so I am very happy. I am still adjusting to S2000 but so far the transition is going well. The roads are perfect, actually they are probably in the best condition I have ever seen them. There is a bit of loose gravel around but that is because we are sweeping the roads being the first car. Neal and Michael Guest put in some good times so I think we might have a race today."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"We've started well today and the car is handling well so I am happy. The rain that we had during the Busselton stages last night does not seem to have made it to the forests here so the roads are dry and quite dusty. We have closed in on Simon so the plan is to keep pushing through the upcoming long section of stages and see how we go."

Glen Raymond, Car #7 - Group N (P) Corolla
"Our roll yesterday was unfortunate but it was a fairly slow one so both myself and my co-driver Matt got out ok. But it is a real testament to the strength of the Corolla that it came out of yesterday with only minor damage. We replaced a windscreen and some other minor parts but otherwise it was ok."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally WA
Heat 2 - Results after SS14:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 20:21.8
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +4.7
3) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +8.7
4) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX +10.6
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +35.8
6) Alex Stone Subaru Impreza WRX +52.9

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TRD KICKS OFF HEAT 2 WITH ANOTHER 1-2


Toyota's tarmac rally ace Neal Bates has a slender lead over team-mate Simon Evans following the opening two stages of Heat 2 at a rain-soaked Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage which again produced a tight contest amongst the top crews.

Fresh from his Friday night dominance of the tarmac stage in Western Australia, Bates won the slightly wet first run on Saturday night from Evans and the reigning champion's younger brother Eli.

The rain intensified by the start of the second run on the tarmac super special and unfortunately for Bates, a heavy shower passed through as he began his second attempt.

The brief downpour allowed the younger Evans to secure a rare tarmac stage win from Bates, but the three-time Australian rally champion did enough to maintain a slender lead heading into tomorrow's forest stages.

Bates leads Toyota Racing Development team-mate Simon Evans by 1.2s, with Eli Evans in a Subaru third, 1.4s behind Bates.

Heat 1 rollover victims Michael Guest and Glen Raymond repaired their respective Subaru and ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla in time for the start of Heat 2.

Guest sits fourth at 5.4s behind Bates, whilst Raymond is 10th after SS12 following a cautious restart on the wet Busselton stage.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"Our approach to Busselton was the same as Friday night. Run cleanly, get through it and be well-placed heading into the forest. So, mission accomplished. But the rain certainly made things interesting and increased our concentration a little. It would have been a little easier in the turbo-charged car we ran last season as we would have had more torque, but our new S2000 Corolla was a lot of fun to drive. We really had fun wrestling the car in the wet conditions."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"I think the rain tonight was designed to see if I could win the tarmac stages in the wet as well as the dry. It was ok on the first run but the heavy shower that hit during our second run made things quite tricky. Obviously it is great to start Heat 2 in the lead and repeat the result from Friday night, but everyone knows the real work starts in the forests tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how much rain we get overnight as if it sets in we will be in for a really challenging day."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally WA
Heat 2 - Results after SS12:
1) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 3:16.3
2) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 +1.2
3) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX +1.4
4) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +5.4
5) Darren Windus Subaru Impreza WRX +5.8
6) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +6.8

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EVANS CLAIMS FIRST S2000 HEAT WIN IN TRD 1-2


Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Rally Team's Simon and Sue Evans have become the first crew in Australian Rally Championship (ARC) history to win a heat in an S2000 car following their victory over team-mates Neal Bates and Coral Taylor at the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia.

The TRD 1-2 capped a strong showing from the Toyota team who were running two S2000-spec Corollas for the first time.

The Evans duo put in a commanding performance during Heat 1's afternoon stages, an effort highlighted by their run on Stage 8 that saw them pull a clear gap over Bates and Taylor after closest challenger Michael Guest rolled his Subaru onto its side.

Reigning drivers' champion Simon Evans was pleased with his improved pace during the afternoon runs, but is still learning the intricacies of his new naturally-aspirated Corolla.

Bates finished 1m28.2s behind Evans and finished Heat 1 strongly, tying with Evans on the second-last stage at Nannup Oval, before winning the heat's final stage prior to the teams regrouping tonight for the opening two stages of Heat 2 at Busselton.

Heat 2's first two stages are a re-run of last night's tarmac Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage, before competitors move back to the forests around Nannup on Sunday for the conclusion of the heat and the event.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"It feels good to be the first driver to win an ARC heat in an S2000 car, but we are still very focussed on the job at hand so it really hasn't had a chance to sink in. The roads were swept this afternoon and as a result everything had a lot more grip so we were a little faster. Either way this is a fantastic result for Toyota and for the S2000 category - it's something I love and I am really pleased Sue and I have made the transition so smoothly. We are going to make a few changes ahead of Heat 2 but it won't be anything too far from what we have now."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"The result is definitely a great one for the team and for Toyota. I didn't have the best run and Michael Guest's roll-over helped secure me second - these things come your way every once in a while so you have to take them when you can. All-in-all it was a great day. The roads were really good again but we were a bit off the pace. It is nothing that I can pinpoint at the moment but we'll have a think about it and make some changes to try and improve things before we hit the forests again tomorrow. Obviously I am looking forward to the tarmac stages tonight and to repeating last night's two wins."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally - Heat 1
Final Results:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 1:05:50.7
2) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:28.2
3) Alex Stone Subaru Impreza WRX +3:45.4
4) Justin Dowel Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +4:35.1
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +6:16.0
6) Darren Windus Subaru Impreza WRX +6:17.5

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EVANS EXTENDS AS BATES CLOSES ON SECOND


Reigning champion Simon Evans has extended his lead in Heat 1 of the season-opening Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia, opening up a 28.4s lead in his S2000 Corolla from Michael Guest in second place.

Evans again won a pair of stages in the forests around Nannup, to hold a comfortable lead over Guest and team-mate Neal Bates who has recovered well from his slight off this morning.

Bates has closed in on Guest and hopes to challenge him for second during the final four stages of Heat 1, run in the forests around Nannup, not far from Busselton on Western Australia's southern coast.

The Raymond Partners Accountants rally team of privateer Toyota runner Glen Raymond is busily repairing his ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla following an incident-filled morning session that saw Raymond roll the car onto its side.

Saturday afternoon's stages include a re-run of the morning sessions opening two runs, before Heat 1 concludes with two stages at the Nannup oval.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"We have the lead but I am still fighting the car a fair bit so I could be happier. The road condition is really good but I am not getting as much out of the car as I would like. This afternoon we do a re-run of the day's opening two stages but this time they will be swept so I am not sure if that will help us or not. Although I would like a little more from the car we are in the lead and that is the best place to be."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"The car feels really good and I am just annoyed we made the small mistake on Stage 4. It did not cost us too much time but it was enough to drop us to third place. The roads are holding up well and we are only around 12 seconds behind Michael Guest so we will try and pull it back."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally - Heat 1
Results after SS6:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 41:34.1
2) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +28.4
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +40.1
4) Leigh Hynes Subaru Impreza WRX +1:43.0
5) Alex Stone Subaru Impreza WRX +2:15.2
6) Justin Dowel Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +2:39.3

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EVANS TAKES LEAD AND WINS FIRST S2000 STAGES


Toyota Racing Development's Simon Evans has taken the lead early in the continuation of Heat 1 of the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia, winning Saturday morning's first two stages - his first ever in his new S2000 Corolla.

Evans started the day less-than three seconds behind overnight leader and team-mate Neal Bates and moved into the lead following his win on the weekend's opening stage, before extending his advantage to 18.7s over Michael Guest in a Subaru.

Reigning champion Evans said overnight rain had increased the grip of the tricky Western Australian roads, although he was lucky not to roll the car after hitting a bump hard, momentarily putting the car on two wheels.

Bates was happy with the handling of his car and also commented on the overnight rain increasing the grip of the event's ball-bearing gravel roads, although he hopes the forecast rain does not arrive to ruin the high grip levels.

The three-time Australian champion and his co-driver Coral Taylor made a slight error on Stage 4, losing time to Evans and Guest.

Privateer Glen Raymond finished an encouraging fourth on the day's opening stage before putting his ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla on its side after taking avoiding action to miss a kangaroo, forcing him out of Heat 1.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"It is a great result but we still have a bit of work to do. I am still working out the new car and trying to find my rhythm in it but it will take time as I am finding the S2000 a little inconsistent in its handling. I clipped something that was obviously ramped and the car went up on two wheels very gently, but it wasn't a big deal. These roads are genuinely very slippery but the overnight rain has given them a little more grip then we had in reconnaissance. I knew I had to pull a good time on Stage 4 and I am happy to be in the lead. The road conditions are settling down and as long as the expected rain does not produce a downpour, everything will be ok."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"The roads are great and the car is handling fine. We made a small mistake this morning with a note and that caused us to run a little wide. I had to reverse out of a service road but apart from that everything was fine. The rain has increased the grip on the roads and I would prefer it if the rain stays away as the roads are settling in well."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally - Heat 1
Results after SS4:
1) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 26:37.5
2) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +18.7
3) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 +32.8
4) Alex Stone Subaru Impreza WRX +1:17.8
5) Leigh Hynes Subaru Impreza WRX +1:18.2
6) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:21.5

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BATES BEATS ALL TO TAKE EARLY LEAD


Neal Bates has continued his run of wins at the Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage, claiming the first two stages of the season at the Quit Forest Rally WA and gaining an early lead in front of a large crowd at Barnard Park on the Busselton Foreshore.

Bates was fastest during the morning shakedown on the fast beachside course and put in yet another strong performance on tarmac to hold a 2.4s lead over Eli Evans in a Subaru.

The three-time champion was pleased to start the season with two stage wins and to head into tomorrow's forest stages in the lead.

Reigning Australian rally champion Simon Evans made a solid start at Busselton and sits third overall behind Bates and his brother Eli, only 2.5s off the pace.

Evans was content to make a conservative start to the event and is well-positioned to make his move on the forest roads around Nannup that will decide the winner of Heat 1.

Privateer Toyota driver Glen Raymond continues to come to grips with the ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla he acquired during the off-season and sits 11th overall, 16.5s behind Bates.

The team's now transfer from the Busselton foreshore to the forests around Nannup, some 60km inland where the remaining eight stages of Heat 1 will decide the winner of the season's opening heat.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"They always put on a great show at the Busselton foreshore and tonight was no different. The S2000 performed magically tonight so we are off to a good start. But you have to be careful on this stage as you can only lose the rally here, not win it. We are in a good position for when we go out into the forest tomorrow. Everyone is on it and I think out in the forest it is going to be a close thing. I don't think anyone will have too big an advantage. I am far more comfortable on gravel than I am on tarmac and this car is designed to run best on gravel so I can't wait to get amongst the trees tomorrow and see what we can do."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"I get a bit nervous as I have never lost this stage. I really enjoy tarmac but it is getting a bit daunting as the expectation for me to win gets bigger every year. But it was a good clean run with no dramas whatsoever. The second run felt a bit quicker but it wasn't. It is not a big deal as we had a perfect run tonight with no problems at all. Tomorrow we head into the forest and that will give us a chance to see how everyone is fairing."

Australian Rally Championship
Quit Forest Rally - Heat 1
Results after SS2:
1) Neal Bates Toyota Corolla S2000 3:06.1
2) Eli Evans Subaru Impreza WRX +2.4
3) Simon Evans Toyota Corolla S2000 +2.5
4) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +5.2
5) Spencer Lowndes Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +8.3
6) Darren Windus Subaru Impreza WRX +11.8
11) Glen Raymond Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +16.5

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BATES FASTEST AHEAD OF WA SEASON OPENER


Toyota Racing Development (TRD) rally driver Neal Bates has topped the times in his S2000 Corolla during shakedown for this weekend's Australian Rally Championship season-opening QUIT Forest Rally in Western Australia.

Bates topped the times ahead of team-mate Simon Evans' brother Eli who was second in his Subaru during the practice session at Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage three hours south of Perth.

Reigning champion Evans finished shakedown behind his brother and Bates but did not push his new S2000 Corolla to the limit during the Friday morning session.

Both Bates and Evans had a productive day and set quick times during the team's Wednesday test session despite a couple of technical issues that slightly restricted their running.

Young gun Glen Raymond spent the Busselton shakedown becoming more familiar with the ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla he acquired from the Toyota team in the off-season.

Heat 1 swings into action tonight with the opening two stages of the event at the Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage before the action moves to the forests around Nannup where the remainder of the first heat will be contested.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - S2000 Corolla:
"We spent shakedown playing with the car and changing set ups during each run but we found something we were comfortable with at the end. Testing on Wednesday went ok. A few teething problems are to be expected with a new car, but I am very happy with the speed we had on the test stage. At the moment we are finding our comfort zone in the car and that has been made a little more difficult by WA's ball-bearing gravel roads, but we are just looking forward to kicking off the season tonight."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - S2000 Corolla:
"The car felt really good during shakedown. I was actually surprised how good it felt as we do not have a tarmac-specific set-up for this weekend so we just did the best we could with what we had. I really could not have been happier. We had a couple of little niggles during testing, but everyone has been working incredibly hard and today the cars went really well. I enjoy the tarmac Busselton Super Special but it is no different to any other stage. We just have to make no mistakes and be faster than anyone else. We'll just do the best job we can and see where we end up."

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