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Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge

  1. TOYOTA CLAIMS HISTORIC 1-2-3
  2. BATES FIGHTS BACK
  3. TRD DUO SOLID EARLY
  4. TARMAC KING TAKES HEAT 1
  5. BATES TAKES CONTROL
  6. STEADY START TO TASSIE CHALLENGE
  7. WET SET TO TEST TRD ON TARMAC

TOYOTA CLAIMS HISTORIC 1-2-3


Team TRD Rally boss Neal Bates has won Heat 2 of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge, leading home team-mate Simon Evans and Toyota privateer Glen Raymond in the outright results to claim the first Toyota 1-2-3 in Australian Rally Championship (ARC) history.

Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor scored a clean sweep of the event, winning both heats and claiming the bonus point for most stage wins in a dramatic finish to the ARC's inaugural all-tarmac event.

The championship leaders held a four second lead to rival Spencer Lowndes heading into the final stage, only for Lowndes to crash, handing the win to Bates and Taylor and elevating Evans to second overall and for the heat.

The Heat 2 result moves Bates and Taylor to within nine points of claiming a fourth ARC title heading into the season-ending Coffs Harbour Rally, where a 15th place will be enough to secure the crown.

Second place overall for Evans and his co-driver and wife, Sue, was just reward for a consistent and measured drive by the two-time champions in their first-ever tarmac rally.

Raymond and co-driver and brother Matt were overjoyed at securing their first ARC podium in their ex-works TRD Group N (P) Corolla.

Team TRD Rally will now return to the mainland and begin preparations for the season's sixth-and-final round in Coffs Harbour on 15-16 November.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"I was constantly learning this weekend. We were quick in the dry, but we could only do so much in the wet conditions. The hardest thing was trying to predict what the car was going to do. It just goes to show you just have to be consistent and drive smart; we did that and got a good result. An all-Toyota podium is a great reward for the team who have built and developed all three cars, they should be very proud of their efforts."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"It was a dream weekend. The lead-up was incredibly busy but we came here with the aim to win the event and to put ourselves closer to the title and we have done just that. We had good speed, but Spencer (Lowndes) did a great job and was very impressive. I'm sorry he didn't get to the finish, but that's the way rallying goes sometimes. A Toyota 1-2-3 is just amazing. It's great to see that three cars we have had a hand in building are on the podium. They were reliable and driven well so they fully deserve to be here. We are so close to the title now but we still have work to do in Coffs Harbour."

Glen Raymond, Car #7 - Toyota Corolla Group N (P)
"I can't believe we have finished on the podium - we couldn't be happier. It has been a long, hard journey but our first season in a top-line car has netted our biggest result to date. This tarmac thing is new to me and yesterday in Heat 1 I didn't look at my times and just got my head around learning how the car handled. It was the right choice because a lot of people didn't finish and we're here on the podium. Three Toyotas in the top-three is the perfect result. Team TRD has helped me a lot, so it is great to share this with them."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 1 - Final Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 36m06.0s
2) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +35.1
3) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +56.7
4) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1m36.0
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1m48.3
6) Dennis Dunlop - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +2m50.8

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 2 - Final Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 47m22.1s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +31.9
3) Craig Brooks - Subaru Impreza WRX +1:12.3
4) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1:20.5
5) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX +1:32.6
6) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +2:30.9

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Outright Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000
3) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P)
4) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
5) Craig Brooks - Subaru Impreza WRX
6) Dennis Dunlop - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Championship Standings:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 364 points
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 251
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX - 226
4) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO - 218
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - 170
6) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX - 154

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BATES FIGHTS BACK


Toyota's three-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has taken the lead late in Heat 2 of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge (TTC), overhauling the Mitsubishi of Spencer Lowndes to take a four second lead into the event's final stage.

Bates won two of the afternoon's three stages, overhauling Lowndes and pulling out his lead on the final stage - the revered 25.2-kilometre Savage River - before the heat's final service.

TRD team-mate and reigning champion Simon Evans consolidated his third place in the heat, setting consistent times behind the two leaders to open a lead of more-than 40 seconds to fourth placed Glen Raymond.

Raymond who drives an ex-TRD Group N (P) Corolla has performed strongly on his tarmac debut and is well-placed to claim fourth outright.

If Bates can maintain his advantage at the end of the day's fifth and final stage he will claim outright victory in the TTC and the maximum 81 points on offer.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"We are driving to plan and improving each time. I am gaining more and more confidence as the stages go on. I don't like coming third, but I am happy with my tarmac debut. We will maintain our pace and see if we can pull time out of Spencer (Lowndes) who is driving incredibly well. We won't overstep the boundary but will keep the pressure on."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"Spencer (Lowndes) has done a fantastic job and has pushed us hard, but we got those few seconds we needed. We have just come off the longest stage of the event and we pushed incredibly hard. We had a small alternator problem, but we have fixed that now. I said I wouldn't start thinking about the championship, but it is getting pretty hard not to now."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 2 - Results after SS11:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 37m30.1s
2) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +4.0
3) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +24.4
4) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1:05.8
5) Craig Brooks - Subaru Impreza WRX +1:06.8
6) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:11.9

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TRD DUO SOLID EARLY


Team TRD Rally duo Neal Bates and Simon Evans have made a solid start to Heat 2 of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge and lie second and fifth respectively following the opening stage.

Drivers again endured wet, testing conditions as they tackled the 20.1-kilometre Lesley-Hellyer stage with Mitsubishi's Spencer Lowndes opening a slender 0.7s lead to Heat 1 winner Bates.

Evans is less-than seven seconds behind Toyota privateer Glen Raymond who sits in a surprise third following the day's opening stanza.

Both TRD drivers remain on intermediate-cut Michelin slick tyres for the group of three stages that now take place ahead of the heat's second and final service.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"Today started a little bit better than yesterday morning, but we are still struggling to find grip out there. I spend more time going sideways than straight as I am having trouble finding a suitable set-up. To an extent I am flying blind and it is really challenging. I thought I had a good wet set-up but we still need to do some work."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"Spencer did a good job but we are happy with our place. The conditions were similar to what we encountered yesterday and I am glad we started the day with that extra cut in our tyres - it made all the difference. The weather is still a bit of a guessing game, but we are confident heading into the next group of stages."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 2 - Results after SS8:
1) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10m49.4s
2) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +0.7
3) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +8.9
4) Michael Guest Subaru Impreza WRX +12.5
5) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +15.8
6) Craig Brooks - Subaru Impreza WRX +16.9

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TARMAC KING TAKES HEAT 1


Championship leader Neal Bates has moved one step closer to claiming his fourth national crown by recording a commanding victory in Heat 1 of the penultimate round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC), the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge.

Bates led Heat 1 from start to finish, winning four of the day's five stages in his S2000 Corolla to eventually take the heat by 35.1s from Spencer Lowndes in a Mitsubishi.

Defending series champion Simon Evans survived a tough tarmac rally debut to claim third for the heat, 56.7s behind Toyota team-mate Bates.

The entire field endured arguably the toughest conditions seen at an ARC event this season - dealing with cold ambient temperatures and persistent rain that made the series' first ever all-tarmac event one to remember.

In an interesting side note, Bates was more than 40s faster over the same stages than the leader of the concurrent non-ARC component of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge that contains Porsches, Nissan GT-Rs and unrestricted Subarus and Mitsubishis.

Heat 2 of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge kicks-off tomorrow morning and will run on the same five stages contested during Heat 1.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"Basically we went out on the wrong tyres during the first stage, I lost my confidence and we then spent the rest of the day chasing our tail. We worked hard and changed a few things on the car, trying to learn about how to best go about rallying on tarmac. Most importantly we finished and now we know what the conditions are like so tomorrow can potentially be a whole new experience. The team and I will analyse everything overnight and hopefully make the right choices tomorrow."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"It was a great day. I always enjoy tarmac and it was pretty tricky out there, but we are over the moon with both our times and the overall result. It was quite slippery and wet tarmac is always difficult as you start to lock brakes and slide around. Obviously we did a reasonably good job of managing the low level of grip. It was a tough day's work but in the end it was enjoyable for us."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 1 - Final Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 36m06.0s
2) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +35.1
3) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +56.7
4) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1m36.0
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1m48.3
6) Dennis Dunlop - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +2m50.8

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BATES TAKES CONTROL


Team TRD Rally's Neal Bates has extended his lead in the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge and team-mate Simon Evans has moved to third overall as the wet weather continues on the roads south of Burnie.

Bates won two of the three stages between the morning and afternoon services to open a lead of 31.6s to the Mitsubishi of Spencer Lowndes in second place.

The three-time Australian Rally Champion switched to an intermediate cut on his Michelin tyres - a move that clearly paid off in the wet conditions.

Evans fitted wet tyres following the morning service and despite not being entirely happy with the set-up of his S2000 Corolla, he was able to claw back time and move from fifth to third, 53.2s behind Bates.

With the cancellation of Stage 6 in Waratah due to road works, crews now head out for the seventh and final stage of Heat 1, the revered 19.1-kilometre Hellyer Gorge.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"The wet tyre was too aggressive so we are going to switch to an intermediate tyre like Neal. Corner entry is the key and the conditions are changing all the time so it is very hard to find consistency which is frustrating. The last thing we want to do is punt it off, so we are just driving within ourselves and improving the car as the car goes on."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"We made the right tyre choice at the last service and that made all the difference. It has been either raining or we have had wet roads for the whole day so it has not been easy. But overall I am really happy with things so far."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 1 - Results after SS5:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 36m06.0s
2) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +31.8
3) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +53.2
4) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1m26.8
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1m30.0
6) Dennis Dunlop - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +2m26.1

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STEADY START TO TASSIE CHALLENGE


Team TRD Rally's tarmac master Neal Bates has opened a small lead over his competitors in wet conditions following the opening two stages of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge.

Bates holds a 4.8s lead over Mitsubishi's Spencer Lowndes with young Victorian Brenton Kaitler a surprise third.

Reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has made a cautious start in the wet conditions and lies fifth, 24.2s behind his team-mate.

Both TRD drivers stated they spent the morning stages acclimatising to the wet roads in the Australian Rally Championship's first ever all-tarmac event.

Crews now take in three stages before the next service, including the 25.2-kilometre Savage River.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"I felt like the car was sitting on top of the road not in it. It was very hard to generate tyre temperature and grip. I just got through the stage and we have made changes in this service. We are trying a wet tyre now and we will see if that makes a difference. We just have to get to the end - this event is all about finishing."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"It was a good start. The roads were a little slippery and we were reasonably cautious but overall it was good. I don't think it is wet enough for the wet tyre yet, but it is so hard to know just what the right choice is. I thought the car handled very well in the tricky conditions and it requires your full attention."

Australian Rally Championship
Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
Heat 1 - Results after SS2:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 9m18.5s
2) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +4.8
3) Brenton Kaitler - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +10.6
4) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX +20.9
5) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +24.2
6) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +26.6

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WET SET TO TEST TRD ON TARMAC


Team TRD Rally drivers Simon Evans and Neal Bates have concluded their preparations for this weekend's Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge by successfully completing a wet shakedown session just outside rally host city Burnie.

The pair set consistently quick times in their S2000 Corollas despite heavy rain that set in and made conditions extremely slippery.

Evans and Bates put in a solid day of testing on Wednesday in dry conditions, but the rain is now forecast to remain a factor for the duration of the first all-tarmac event in the 41-year history of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC).

Reigning champion Evans and his co-driver and wife, Sue are both looking forward to the first tarmac rally and although the rain will make conditions tougher, the pair are keen to put their Corolla to the test on a surface other than gravel.

Championship leader and experienced tarmac campaigner Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor have enjoyed a lot of success racing in Tasmania and are conscious another strong result will get them closer to an elusive fourth national title.

Heat 1 of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge begins tomorrow morning with a warm-up stage at Mount Leslie before taking in six competitive stages including the revered Hellyer Gorge and Savage River.

Simon Evans, Car #1 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"The ARC's first tarmac event has been a long time coming and we can't wait for it to start. The Corolla looks amazing in tarmac-spec and we had a constructive test earlier in the week. The rain is going to make things very difficult, but you drive a rally car on tarmac in the wet like you would a normal road car - with a little more caution. Savage River is a great stage and Sue loves Hellyer Gorge, so we are both really looking forward to the start of the rally."

Neal Bates, Car #2 - Toyota Corolla S2000:
"The rain is going to make this a very difficult event, but it won't detract from the quality of the competition. These conditions are very challenging and with grip levels changing from one corner to the next, we have to be careful and finishing is our first objective. Tasmania has some of the best tarmac roads in the world and to be racing here in a rally car will be something special."

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