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Rally Tasmania

  1. BATES EMERGES VICTORIOUS AS TOYOTA CLAIMS 1-2
  2. FIGHT HEADS TO FINAL STAGE
  3. EVANS CLOSES GAP
  4. BATES HOLDS ON IN TIGHT TUSSLE
  5. BATTLE BREWING FOR LEG 2 HONOURS
  6. BATES AND EVANS MAINTAIN 1-2
  7. TOYOTA TOPS SHAKEDOWN

BATES EMERGES VICTORIOUS AS TOYOTA CLAIMS 1-2


Defending and four-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has ended his 19-season relationship with Toyota in perfect fashion, anchoring a 1-2 finish with team-mate Simon Evans in the season-opening Rally Tasmania.

Bates held off a late charge from two-time champion Evans to claim a 12.5 second overall win across the three days of competition in the all-tarmac rally.

The 1-2 mirrored Toyota's result in 2008's inaugural Tasmanian tarmac event and provided a fitting end to Toyota's long and distinguished involvement in the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) where it has won six drivers' titles and three manufacturers' crowns.

Bates' result is the perfect springboard into a new era for his Neal Bates Motorsport team and another faultless weekend of running for both Corollas S2000s shows what his team can bring to any potential backers.

The two locally-developed Corollas dominated the entire event, claiming 13 of the 16 competitive stages with Bates winning eight and Evans five.

Bates has confirmed he will contest the ARC's second round, his home event in Canberra, while Evans announced he will join his brother Eli to form a two-car Evans Motorsport team.


Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"Firstly I am very happy to end this weekend of mixed emotions with a win. We will do whatever we can to continue to run in the championship and this is obviously the perfect start. I have found it really hard to concentrate given everything that has been going on, but I am very pleased with how we performed. It is the perfect way to start a championship and hopefully it will springboard us into some support that will keep us going in the future. We have proven we have the cars and the team to do the job, now we just need the support in place to make it all work. This is the end of 19 years of happy and successful memories. Most people want to go to work every day of their life and be happy, but I have spent the 19 years driving to work pinching myself. I couldn't have asked for more than that."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:
"Today was a great result and I just kept focussing on consistency and putting into practice all the things I learnt over the weekend. Neal and I were still comparing times after the last stage as it was so close between us. When you can take wins off Neal Bates on tarmac you know you are starting to get there. I did a lot of maturing with Toyota and I wouldn't have been the driver I am today that without the experiences I have had with this team. I look back at it fondly as a lot of good times. Sue and I feel honoured to be have been a part of it and it's great to look back and say 'I won two championships with that team'. It is sad to end, but I am glad we have done so with a 1-2 in the rally. It is what the team and Toyota deserved."


Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Final Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h34m41.9s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +12.7s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +32.8
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +2m34.6
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +2m40.5
6) Dean Herridge - Subaru Impreza WRX +3m24.6

Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Championship Standings
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 78 points
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 - 71 points
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX - 60 points

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FIGHT HEADS TO FINAL STAGE


Rally Tasmania leader Neal Bates is coming under increasing pressure from team-mate Simon Evans and holds just a 10.7 second lead as the Toyota duo head into the final stage of the event.

Evans continued to charge on the early afternoon's set of stages, taking a large chunk of time out of Bates on the penultimate stage of the event.

Both drivers have been pushing their Corollas S2000 to the limit in the hot conditions and Bates now has a gap of more than 30 seconds to third-placed Eli Evans.

Young Victorian duo Brendan Reeves and Glen Raymond have continued their rally-long battle for fourth place, with Reeves holding privateer Corolla driver Raymond at bay.

The winner of Rally Tasmania will be decided on the famous Cethana Gorge stage - a 8.7-kilometre section of road regularly used in the popular Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"We pushed as hard as we could on those last two stages, but Simon just had the better of us. It is a very close battle and it is a testament to the quality of our Corollas that we are still so close after three days of competition. I have raced on Cethana countless times, but never in this car, so I doubt I will have any advantage."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:
"I have just been focussing on getting through as quick as we can and today I have been really switched on and trying to make as few mistakes as possible. It has been thoroughly enjoyable and very rewarding. We have been very good on the technical stages today and have really been strong on the longer stuff. We aren't far off the pace with one stage to go so we'll just keep giving our all."

Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Leg 3 - Results after SS17/18:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h34m41.9s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +10.7s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +32.8
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +2m34.6
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +2m40.5
6) Dean Herridge - Subaru Impreza WRX +3m24.6

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EVANS CLOSES GAP


Two-time Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans has made a strong start to Leg 3 of Rally Tasmania, closing the gap to Toyota team-mate and rally leader Neal Bates heading into the final three stages of the season's first event.

Bates claimed the opening stage in his Corolla S2000 before third-placed driver and Evans' younger brother Eli won the second stage.

Evans then made his move on the third stage, beating both Bates and his brother to close to just 13.3 seconds behind the rally-long leader on overall time.

The 2006 and 2007 champion, who remarkably is in just his second tarmac rally, was pleased to be dicing so closely with renowned tarmac expert Bates.

Competitors now return to the tarmac roads south of Burnie for two more stages before returning for the final service of the event.


Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"Everything is still going well so I am happy. The tyres are holding up well so that will help on this last lot of stages. Simon is driving well and it is very even out there between me, Simon and Eli so we are set for a tight finish. The competition has been close all weekend, so we just have to keep doing what we have been since Friday."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:
"With four stages to go it's going to be a big battle. To be fighting so closely with Neal on tarmac after only one other event is a real achievement. I am feeling comfortable with the car and that is the key to being fast. Neal has always given me advice with tarmac racing and that has stopped, so I must be doing something right! But everything is going well and we are well-placed to bring home a 1-2 for Toyota and whether I finish first or second, it will be good points for the championship."


Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Leg 3 - Results after SS15/17:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h24m17.0s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +13.3s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +31.6
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +2m24.0
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +2m28.6
6) Dean Herridge - Subaru Impreza WRX +3m09.9

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BATES HOLDS ON IN TIGHT TUSSLE


Defending Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has claimed Leg 2 of the season-opening Rally Tasmania, fending off the challenge of team-mate Simon Evans who pressured Bates throughout a long day of action.

Bates and long-time co-driver Coral Taylor, who claimed their fourth national title in 2008, won half of the day's eight stages in their Toyota Corolla S2000 to secure a narrow 13.5s victory from husband-and-wife duo Simon and Sue Evans.

The battle between the two Corolla drivers intensified as the ambient temperature rose with the pair constantly swapping fastest stage times, often only separated by less-than a few seconds.

Aside from the nimbleness of their Corollas, the duo believed the durability of their Michelin tyres was a key factor in being able to gain a comfortable gap to their nearest challenger Eli Evans who finished third, 31s behind Bates.

The younger brother of Simon Evans was followed home by the returning Brendan Reeves who claimed a comfortable fourth place in his first Australian Rally Championship (ARC) outing since 2007.

Tomorrow's third and final Leg of Rally Tasmania will be contested across six stages including Cethana Gorge - a section of road made famous by its regular inclusion in the iconic Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.


Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"I am very happy to win today, although by no means was it easy as Simon and Eli pushed us very hard and that actually makes the win more satisfying. We really had to work hard for it and although I have had a lot of tarmac experience they are catching up quickly. Overall, both our cars were exceptional and the Michelin tyres played a huge part in today's success. Our tyres are probably in the best condition of anyone in the rally as the Corolla is easy on tyres, so that will help us tomorrow."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:
"Things are going well. The car is bulletproof and everything is running like a dream. We are pushing Neal and that is a good accomplishment as he is the tarmac king. We will take things we learnt today into tomorrow's stages and it's really just the little things, but I know where he is taking time off me. I am going to make the rear of the car firmer and that should help us gain some speed."


Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Leg 2 - Final Results:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 1h08m5.8s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +13.5s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +31.0
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +2m08.1
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +2m16.9
6) Dean Herridge - Subaru Impreza WRX +2m45.3

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BATTLE BREWING FOR LEG 2 HONOURS


Toyota team-mates Neal Bates and Simon Evans are locked in a tight battle for the lead of Rally Tasmania heading into the final five stages that will decide Leg 2 honours.

The pair started the day in their Corollas S2000s separated by just 2.5s and after more-than 60-kilometres of action today the gap has only improved slightly in Bates' favour to just 6.7s.

Both drivers, who between them have won six Australian rally titles, excelled in the hot conditions to build a gap over third placed Eli Evans who is now almost 30s in arrears.

The day started with a pass on the long and fast Leslie Hellyer stage that was won by Eli Evans, who claimed the win by less-than a second from Bates.

Toyota's lighter, more nimble Corollas S2000s then came into their own on the next two stages that saw crews make two passes along the revered 25-kilometre-long Savage River stage.

Simon Evans beat Bates on the first run before Bates repaid the favour on the second, but the Toyota pair's pace was too much for the younger Evans who slipped back to be 28.6s behind leader Bates.

Crews now return to the roads south of host city Burnie where they will tackle the final five stages of the day that will determine the winner of Leg 2 of three of the Australian Rally Championship's season-opening round.


Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"Simon and I seemed to have the wood over the other cars on Savage River and although he took around five seconds out of me on the way in, I took about the same back on the second run, so it was honours even. The Corolla is so nimble and is handling incredibly well in this heat, as are the tyres. We have had no problems at all, whereas other drivers are struggling to maintain the grip level of theirs. Next up we have Hellyer that we did yesterday as well as a few new ones so it is going to get interesting."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:
"Things are going really well. Our speed is really good and we are happily focussing on our job and trying to be consistent - that is the key. I am finding tarmac much easier now and I am just trying to drive smoother. Although, it did get interesting in the spots where the tarmac was melting! The speed is extremely high so my driving has to be more finite. This rally is all about doing the best job I can and if I do that, then I will be happy."


Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Leg 2 - Results after SS6/17:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 48m00.0s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +6.7s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +28.6
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +53.7
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +1m32.5
6) Dean Herridge - Subaru Impreza WRX +1m57.5

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BATES AND EVANS MAINTAIN 1-2


Defending Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has made the perfect start to the season, winning the first two competitive stages of Rally Tasmania to open a slender lead from Toyota team-mate Simon Evans.

Bates and Evans continued the form that saw them head the field in this morning's shakedown, with Bates winning both of Friday's Leg 1 stages ahead of Evans who is only 2.5s behind the reigning champion.

Simon's younger brother Eli lies 5.1s behind Bates in third, less-than two seconds ahead of retuning young gun Brendan Reeves who is making his first ARC start since 2007.

Both Bates and Evans praised the handling of their naturally-aspirated Corolla S2000s, highlighting the car's stability across the 19.19-kilometre Hellyer Leslie stage that brought Leg 1 to a close.

Action resumes tomorrow morning with perhaps the most testing four stages of any round this season that will see crews tackle three-consecutive stages of more-than 20km, directly followed by another pass of the 19.19km Hellyer Leslie.

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:
"All the competitors are doing a fantastic job, but Simon has done exceptionally well and so has Eli, so we are happy to be leading. The car was perfect over the long Hellyer stage and handled really well. Tyre wear was non-existent and tomorrow we will just keep trying to do the same. We've driven well enough to lead today so our approach is obviously working so far."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #2:
"So far everything is much better than last year. I am enjoying the set-up and the grip level that is available and I have a lot of trust in the car. The Corolla was really good across the long Hellyer Leslie stage so we are having a good time out there. Sue is doing a great job calling the notes. The speed is so much higher than gravel and she is doing a fantastic job to spit them out as fast as she is. The car almost handles like a circuit racer - it moves around enough and is balanced well with the speed. But there is still more speed to come."

Australian Rally Championship
Rally Tasmania
Leg 1 - Results after SS3/17:
1) Neal Bates - Toyota Corolla S2000 11m57.0s
2) Simon Evans - Toyota Corolla S2000 +2.5s
3) Eli Evans - Subaru Impreza WRX +5.1
4) Brendan Reeves - Subaru Impreza WRX +6.8
5) Glen Raymond - Toyota Corolla Group N (P) +20.1
6) Spencer Lowndes - Mitsubishi Lancer EVO +21.7

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TOYOTA TOPS SHAKEDOWN


Toyota Corolla drivers Neal Bates and Simon Evans have made the perfect start to Rally Tasmania, topping the timesheets at shakedown ahead of this afternoon's opening stages of the 2009 Australian Rally Championship (ARC).

Defending champion Bates and two-time Australian Champion, Evans and both set a time of 1m31.4s in their Corolla S2000s, making the most of the warm conditions on the 2.3-kilometre-long shakedown stage.

The Toyota duo finished ahead of privateer Glen Raymond who returns in 2009 in his ex-works Toyota Corolla Group N (P), and set a time just 0.2s slower than the factory cars.

Simon's younger brother and 2008 ARC runner-up, Eli Evans was fourth-fastest, just 0.3s behind Toyota's two champions.

Both Bates and Simon Evans are expecting stiff competition from the strong ARC field that will contest this weekend's opening round.

Heat 1 of Rally Tasmania gets underway this afternoon with three stages south of host-city Burnie, where after a short warm-up, crews will tackle two timed stages including the first of three runs on the challenging roads of Hellyer Gorge.

Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #1:

"We have made a couple of small improvements and the car feels better here than it did last year. It was good here in 2008 but it is now a little sharper. The weather is also better this year and while it is hot and dry today, we'll have to see what the weekend brings. One thing's for sure, there is great depth in the field and some very quick people so we are really going to have to work for a result."

Simon Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000 - Car #3:

"We had a good test day during the week and we've just completed a great shakedown run so we're starting to push the limit and see what we are capable of. The event is a little longer this year which suits us as I am feeling fit, so the added length could work in our favour. Now we just have to do the best we can, but I reckon we'll have a good weekend."

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