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Coffs Coast Rally

  1. TOYOTA SWEEPS TITLES IN SEASON FINALE
  2. TRANSMISSION GROUNDS EVANS AS BATES CLOSES IN
  3. EVANS EASES INTO HEAT 2
  4. BATES TAKES FOURTH TITLE, EVANS WINS HEAT
  5. BATES CLOSES IN AS EVANS EXTENDS
  6. EVANS ON TOP EARLY
  7. TOYOTA SET FOR TITLE FIGHT

TOYOTA SWEEPS TITLES IN SEASON FINALE


Toyota has claimed both the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships at the season-ending Coffs Coast Rally, with team boss Neal Bates claiming his fourth and Toyota's ninth domestic rally title.

Bates cruised to seventh position in both Heats of the rally to easily claim the required points he needed to become just the third person ever to win four or more ARC Drivers' titles.

In a performance reminiscent of Australia's three-time Formula 1 World Champion, Jack Brabham, Bates won the title in an S2000-spec Corolla that he helped build, a rare in modern motorsport.

Bates has secured 32 outright ARC wins in a career spanning more than 20 years and has also made 14 appearances in the World Rally Championship and finished third in the 1997 International Race of Champions.

Since winning his first ARC title in 1993, TRD boss Bates has also recorded outright victory in Targa Tasmania, six Bathurst 12-hour class wins and has sat on pole at the Bathurst 1000.

Team-mate and two-time champion, Simon Evans claimed Heat 1 in convincing fashion and was headed for a clean-sweep of the Coffs Harbour-based event until a transmission problem sidelined him for three stages, dropping him to fourth outright.

It was a disappointing end to a season full of bad luck for the defending champion, but as ever, Evans was philosophical about his Heat 2 issue and is determined to bounce back in season 2009.

Young Victorian privateer Glen Raymond capped his debut season in an ex-TRD Corolla with a career-best second place in Heat 2 of the Coffs Coast Rally - a results that saw him claim third overall.

TRD guest driver Paul Gover achieved his goal of a top-10 finish with 10th place in Heat 2, a worthy conclusion to a measured driver in challenging conditions.

Team TRD Rally now takes a well-deserved break until the 2009 ARC season begins earlier than usual with the Burnie-based, all-tarmac Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge, scheduled for 14-15 February.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"Although the year has been a challenging one you can always bet on the sun rising and me being quick. The S2000 Corolla was just awesome and has so much potential that we are just starting to unlock - this year is just the tip of the iceberg. But, we do need to work hard in the off-season because our goal this year was 1-2 in the championship and we didn't quite get there. I would like to thank the team as it's been great fun despite the challenges we've faced. Most of all I would like to thank Sue; she has done it hard this year balancing motherhood, co-driving and running the family business. I am really happy for Neal and Coral - they have done what was required to win the title. It was also very good to see my brother win his first rally. Eli did well in changing conditions, brought it home in top position and didn't let things get to him."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"Obviously I am incredibly happy to win a fourth title. I think it will take a while for what we have achieved to actually set in as this weekend was very difficult. Yesterday was very stressful and the whole build-up has been so busy with friends, relatives and media. With the car essentially in its infancy, we have more work to do and I am of course disappointed with what happened to Simon today. However, the S2000 Corolla has been competitive since its debut and I have finished every rally I've started in it so it is getting there. Overall, it is a big achievement to win another manufacturers' title and for Coral and I to win again 13 years since our last one. I don't get too carried away with having the number one on the door, but I am pretty sure the title win will sink in when it's finally on the car - Coral and I will be very happy to see that and I am happy to have my name in the history books."

Glen Raymond, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #7:
"It was great this year to be matching stage times with people I look up to like Neal and Simon. We have also started doing pre-event testing and it has helped me a lot. Coming into this year the team had no expectations, though we have been improving at every event and we will take what we have learnt into next season. If we can keep improving then next season looks promising. Toyota's famous reliability has also helped and I must thank the TRD team who have assisted us a lot. Being involved with a company that has won the manufacturers' title has only brought good things."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 1 - Final Results:
1) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h05m07.4s
2) Guy Wilks - Honda Civic Type-R +30.1s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +40.1
4) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:21.4
5) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:39.9
6) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX +2:19.5
7) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +2:53.4
12) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +5:10.1

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 2 - Final Results:
1) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX 47m12.2s
2) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +23.9s
3) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:17.3
4) Ryan Smart - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:32.7
5) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:49.1
7) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +4:21.7
10) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +4:22.8
16) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:05:02.9

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Outright Results:
1) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX
2) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
3) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P)
4) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000
5) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
6) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Final Championship Standings:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 445 points
2) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX - 337
3) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 320
4) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO - 284
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - 246
6) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX - 194

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TRANSMISSION GROUNDS EVANS AS BATES CLOSES IN


Two-time Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has dropped from the lead of the Coffs Coast Rally due to a transmission problem, but Toyota team-mate and newly crowned champion Neal Bates has moved from fifth to second overall.

Evans was forced to stop during Stage 10 and initially thought his rally had ended. However, the TRD service crew recovered and repaired his car, meaning he will rejoin for the final two stages of the event using derived times.

Bates started to make up ground in the afternoon's first cluster of stages and has climbed to second - 21.8s behind new leader Eli Evans.

Heavy rain has been falling for most of the afternoon, meaning the final two stages will be extremely slippery.

The final two stages will also decide between Simon and Eli Evans who finishes second overall.

Ex-TRD Corolla pilot Glen Raymond continues his impressive run and is just 2.2s behind Bates in third. Guest driver Paul Gover sits 10th after a solid run in Heat 2.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"I was having a great run and then just heard a bang as we were accelerating. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but it is all fixed so we'll keep going. I am just going to stay calm and have a bit of fun on the last two stages of the championship. Today just summarises my year and the fact that we still have a bit of work to do on developing the car. This is only my sixth rally in this car so that's nothing unusual."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"I am pleased with the day's work but these next two stages are going to be really slippery. At the moment all I want to do is get through these stages, but I doubt we can claw too much time back even with this weather. There has been a lot more happiness today after yesterday's stress around clinching the championship so we are just looking to end the year with a good position."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"We have moved into the top-10 which was my goal at the start of the event so I hope we end there this afternoon."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 2 - Results after SS12:
1) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX 47m12.1s
2) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +21.8s
3) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +24.0
4) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1m01.8
5) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:17.4
6) Ryan Smart - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:32.8
10) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +4:22.9

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EVANS EASES INTO HEAT 2


Team TRD Rally's Simon Evans who won yesterday's Heat 1 of the season-ending Coffs Coast Rally has continued where he left off, winning two of the day's opening three stages to open a 5.5s lead early in Heat 2 over his brother Eli.

Evans ran a conservative strategy due to yesterday's heavy afternoon rain and ran a full-cut wet weather tyre, but has now switched to a full-dry tyre as the roads proved to be much drier than the field expected.

Newly-crowned Australian Rally Champion and TRD boss, Neal Bates is enjoying not having the stress of the championship battle hanging over his head and sits fifth, just 22.3s behind team-mate Evans.

Bates' pace is hampered slightly by the conservative pace notes he developed before the rally and the now four-time champion has also taken time getting back up to full pace following yesterday's conservative run where he claimed his fourth Australian title.

Toyota privateer Glen Raymond has made a rapid start to proceedings and lies ahead of Bates in fourth, with TRD guest driver Paul Gover enjoying a better day in 13th.

Crews now return to the forest north of Coffs Harbour to repeat the day's opening three stages plus one extra before the next service.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"The roads are actually in much better condition than they were yesterday thanks to the extra moisture. We went out with a full-wet which was the wrong choice, although it hasn't really hurt us too much. The crew have switched to the dry tyre now so these next stages should be fun. I am looking forward to it."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"There was a lot less stress this morning so we are really enjoying it. Today is all about having fun. The roads are better today and have held up well. This morning was our first fast go at the roads given our conservative approach yesterday, but with the conservative notes we have I am not expecting too much today. Like Simon we also ran the wet tyre and we have now changed to the dry, so we'll see what that does."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"I was 34 seconds faster today over the opening three stages so it has been a much better day. I am a lot more confident now I have spent some time in the car. The roads are in good condition but it is still quite slippery in places."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 2 - Results after SS9:
1) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 21m40.1s
2) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +5.5s
3) Guy Wilks - Honda Civic Type-R +10.4
4) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +21.4
5) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +22.3
6) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +33.7
13) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +2:05.4

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BATES TAKES FOURTH TITLE, EVANS WINS HEAT


Team TRD Rally's Neal Bates has secured an historic fourth Australian Rally Championship following a measured drive in tough conditions in Heat 1 of the Coffs Coast Rally, on a day dominated by team-mate Simon Evans.

Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor finished eighth for the Heat and scored enough points to take the title on the penultimate day of the season.

However, heavy rain during the last two stages meant an anxious wait for the now four-time champions as they battled their way through the slippery, clay-based roads of the Coffs-area forests.

Evans and his co-driver and wife, Sue, revelled in the conditions, winning Stage 6 by almost 10 seconds to eventually claim seven of the day's nine stages and take Heat 1 by more than 30 seconds from British Champion Guy Wilks in a Honda.

The defending champions enjoyed a welcome return to form in Heat 1 and are confident they can finish the season with their second outright win of the year.

TRD guest driver Paul Gover and Toyota privateer Glen Raymond both navigated the final stages successfully and recovered from their issues earlier in the Heat to finish 14th and 12th respectively.

Bates has little time to celebrate as Heat 2 of the Coffs Coast Rally gets underway tomorrow morning where crews will tackle the same nine stages as Heat 1, but with more rain expected overnight, conditions could be challenging from the outset.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"It was a great day for Toyota and it was a hard day so I am glad we triumphed because the hard ones are more rewarding. The rain came in and although I was on the un-cut tyre, they gave me great feel and I drove accordingly. I had a ball out there and I am surprised we won by so much. Stage 6 was very technical, but I really love that type of action - it is where the S2000 excels. It is also great to have Guy Wilks here because it says a lot about our championship to have a driver of his quality competing in our rounds."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"I am absolutely over the moon. It has been 13 years between championships and overall it was a very tense day as we were listening out for every noise and squeak, but the S2000 Corolla has been faultless all year and it was again today. We were very conservative but I wasn't going to throw it away after 13 years. I didn't enjoy driving that way, but the end result is what we came here for. It is the first time an S2000-spec car has won the ARC and it is a real credit to the entire TRD team. Probably 80 per cent of the work in rallying is done before you get to an event so it is a big thanks to our incredibly smart bunch of guys in Canberra that have made this championship happen. Because it has been so long between drinks this feels pretty special. Your first championship is always the best, but we will really cherish this one when it is all over tomorrow."

Coral Taylor (co-driver), Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"It is pretty amazing. I am not really sure where the last 13 years has gone since our last title but it is wonderful to win it again. It has been the longest day ever as it is easier to fight for the outright win than it is to just get to the finish, so I am relieved the day is over. Neal was very quiet in the last couple of stages and when the rain came at the end we didn't really speak at all and just concentrated on being conservative and getting to the end of the Heat. This isn't just our championship - it is the team's. We have the best team in the country and this success if for everyone involved. However, we really need to thank Toyota who we have worked with for an extremely long time and have always stuck by us. They have also supported the ARC for a long time so we are very grateful for that."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"It was extremely wet on those last few stages so I am just happy we got through. That was a tough day overall but it was great to see Neal triumph after years of trying."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 1 - Final Results:
1) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h05m07.4s
2) Guy Wilks - Honda Civic Type-R +30.1s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +40.1
4) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:21.4
5) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:39.9
6) Michael Guest - Subaru Impreza WRX +2:19.5
8) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +2:53.4
12) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +5:10.1
14) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +7:25.5

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BATES CLOSES IN AS EVANS EXTENDS


Team TRD Rally's Simon Evans has opened a comfortable lead at the head of the Coffs Coast Rally field and team-mate Neal Bates is now just two stages from claiming his fourth Australian Rally Championship (ARC) following the final service of Heat 1.

Evans turned up the pace in the early afternoon, winning three of the four stages to open a 15.6s lead over the Honda of British Rally Champion Guy Wilks in second place and a 24.3s gap to his brother Eli who sits third.

Bates has continued his steady approach to the day and although he is now more than one minute behind his team-mate, he and co-driver Coral Taylor need just 15th place or better to claim their first championship since 1995.

Young Victorian privateer Glen Raymond was in a comfortable third in the ARC field until two punctures on his ex-TRD Corolla cost him more than three minutes.

TRD guest driver Paul Gover has continued his consistent run and now sits 14th - 4m35s behind leader Evans.

Rain has now begun falling on the final two stages of Heat 2, increasing the potential for a dramatic finish. Whilst Evans made no changes to his tyres, Bates has chosen a full-cut tyre as a precaution.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"The more runs we go through the better the stages are getting. If it rains the clay base will make it problematic but the surface is great when it's dry. If we get 5-10mm of rain the roads will be a problem, but if it only rains lightly it will be ok. (Guy) Wilks and Eli (Evans) were pretty quick so I stepped it up and now we have to bring home a 1-2 for Toyota."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"There were no dramas in the last section and we are just going around, doing what we have to. If it rains we'll drive accordingly and we've fitted cut tyres that won't prove to be too inhibiting if it doesn't rain, but will help a lot if it does. I have millions of thoughts at the moment, but I just need to get through these last two stages."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"It started raining heavy in the last stage so we were lucky to get through. We had a few gearbox dramas which cost us a little time, but otherwise it was ok apart from a bit of a high-speed moment in fourth gear."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat 1 - Results after SS5:
1) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 48m00.7s
2) Guy Wilks - Honda Civic Type-R +15.6s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +24.3
4) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:10.8
5) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +1:15.8
6) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +1:35.6
14) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +4:35.7

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EVANS ON TOP EARLY


Team TRD Rally driver Simon Evans has opened a slender lead in the Coffs Coast Rally following the opening three stages of the event, while team-mate and championship leader Neal Bates is well-placed to claim his fourth Australian title.

Current champion Evans started cautiously on the day's opening stage, but bounced back to win the next two and open a 5.8s lead over his brother Eli.

Bates, who needs just 15th place or better in today's Heat 1 to claim the title, recorded top-three times on the day's first two passes, before taking it easy on the third stage and now sits eighth, 44.3s behind his team-mate.

Toyota privateer Glen Raymond has started well and lies fifth, whilst TRD guest driver Paul Gover has spent the morning acclimatising to the rally roads and is 15th overall.

Evans made some minor adjustments to his car during the morning service and crews have now headed out for the next four stages - three of which are re-runs of this morning's passes.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"It is a great start considering the roads are so slippery but we are still driving very safely. It's not time to push yet. I was cautious over the bumps as it was too difficult to push. We have hopefully tidied the car up (in service) so it should be better over the bumps."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"We are going reasonably conservatively so there isn't much happening, but that is our aim for today. We are braking a little earlier in places that we would normally be flat and overall we are being a little more cautious. We are doing the same stages again now so there will be no surprises."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"I've forgotten how hard it is! It's very hot but the car is great to drive. The roads are not as swept as I thought they would be, but given the recent rain they are in pretty good condition."

Australian Rally Championship
Coffs Coast Rally
Heat1 - Results after SS2:
1) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 22m28.0s
2) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +5.8s
3) Guy Wilks - Honda Civic Type-R +13.8
4) Nathan Quinn - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +21.5
5) Glenn Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +21.8
6) Michael Boaden - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +26.1
8) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 +44.3
15) Paul Gover - Toyota Corolla Group N (P)

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TOYOTA SET FOR TITLE FIGHT


Toyota's Australian Rally Championship protagonists, Neal Bates and Simon Evans, have completed preparations for the season-ending Coffs Coast Rally, successfully navigating their TRD Corollas through this morning's shakedown.

Bates, who needs just 15th place or better in Heat 1 to win a fourth national title, was pleased with his shakedown runs, but is wary of the potential for rain to turn the event into a race of attrition.

Defending champion Evans is the only other driver able to snare the title and although he only has a remote chance of winning the championship, he knows that his best chance is to win the event and hope that other results fall his way.

Heavy rain during yesterday's reconnaissance made the rally roads extremely slippery due to the red clay base of the local forest roads and with more rain forecast; drivers know a tough weekend lies ahead.

TRD guest driver and leading motoring journalist, Paul Gover has enjoyed getting behind the wheel of Evans' double-championship-winning Group N (P) Corolla and is aiming for a top-10 result.

In a coup for Team TRD Rally, World Supercross Champion Chad Reed will test an S2000 Corolla in the coming weeks in preparation for a guest drive in a 2009 ARC round.

"It has been an amazing ride over the last 12 months," Reed said. "Winning my second world title, moving motorcycle manufacturers and now aligning myself with world's strongest automotive brand, Toyota.

"I am really excited about the opportunities TRD has presented me with in Australia and I can't wait to get my hands on Neal's car."

The Coffs Coast Rally gets underway tomorrow morning, before the event and the season concludes on Sunday afternoon.

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"So far, so good. The roads are in great condition today compared to recce yesterday. We just have to go out there and do the best we can now. The thing about Coffs Harbour is that the roads dry out very quickly. If it rains overnight the roads can be dry by mid-morning. We need to make sure we finish, but the plan is to finish on top. It is hard to pressure Neal into making a mistake, but we also want a Toyota 1-2 in the championship so we don't want to do anything silly."

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"The car felt great this morning and the shakedown course was very good. This weekend is all about getting to the finish and I don't have any expectations of what is going to happen, but I will be a bit cautious. If it doesn't rain anymore the roads will be good, but if it rains again the red clay will come through but it is the same for everyone. So we'll just see what it brings."

Paul Gover, Toyota Corolla Group N (P) - Car #23:
"I finished 11th in my guest drive with the team last year so it would be nice if I can finish 10th or better this year. I know this car is set for the team's museum so I am not going to doing anything silly. You can make up so much time by going crazy on jumps and where it is very rough, but I am not in it to do that. If it rains then everyone will be on their best behaviour. But, if it is dry then it will be much faster."

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