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2004 Premier State Rally

  1. NSW PREMIER STATE RALLY REVIEW
  2. SS16, Final - PODIUM FINISH KEEPS TTR CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES ALIVE
  3. SS13, Watagan 1 - TOYOTA STRONG IN NSW FORESTS
  4. SS10, Heat One - TOYOTA STRONG IN NSW FORESTS
  5. SS7, Middle Ridge 1 - COROLLAS IN TOP FIVE AT NSW PREMIER STATE RALLY
  6. SS4, Corolla Sportivo Super 2 - TTR WELL-PLACED AFTER OPENING STAGES OF RALLY NSW
  7. Shakedown - BATES FASTEST IN SHAKEDOWN SESSION
  8. Preview - EVANS’ NEW CAR SET TO DEBUT

NSW PREMIER STATE RALLY REVIEW


Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans has kept his championship hopes alive with a podium finish in the NSW Premier State Rally.
Evans’ team-mates Neal Bates and Ben Barker capped a great weekend for TTR by finishing the rally in 5th and 6th place respectively.

It was the team’s strongest result in this year’s Globalstar Australian Rally Championship and positions the team well for the last round of the year in Melbourne in October.

Evans was delighted with his 3rd podium result in five rallies.

"I’m really happy with the way we went this weekend. The championship is still alive and I’m looking forward to the Rally of Melbourne," he said.

The result sees Evans move to 4th in the championship, just 21 points behind Crocker, with 61.5 points up for grabs for first place in the Rally of Melbourne - the Victorian’s home rally.

Evans won the Rally of Melbourne last year and is confident of a strong showing.

“I reckon we’ll be right on the pace in Melbourne,” he said.

The NSW Premier State Rally was incredibly tight all weekend, beginning with the super special stages at Sydney’s Eastern Creek on Friday night.

Bates won the rally’s first stage and finished the night in 2nd place, just 1.6sec behind championship leader Cody Crocker.

Evans was placed 4th, 4.5 seconds behind Crocker.

Meanwhile, development driver Ben Barker’s wretched luck continued, with an engine problem putting him out of the night stages. As he had not yet started the rally, he was given an allocated time and cleared to join the action on Saturday.

Evans started the forest stages on Saturday strongly, moving into 2nd place before a spin on SS07 cost him an estimated 20 seconds and dropped him to 3rd.

He ended the first heat in 3rd, 29.8sec behind winner Chris Atkinson in a Subaru.

Behind Evans, Bates lost a close battle with Crocker for 4th - just 6.5sec separated the pair.

Barker had worked his way back to 9th before disaster struck again on SS9 in the form of a broken front driveshaft. Rather than risk further damage, Barker retired his Corolla.

Sunday’s stages were even more competitive than Saturday, with Evans well-placed in 4th when the rally was stopped due to a huge accident involving Mitsubishi’s Ed Ordynski.

Ordynski rolled his car several times after clipping a bank on the super fast Watagan Rd stage, but incredibly neither he nor his co-driver Iain Stewart was seriously injured in the crash.

The afternoon stages were extremely tight, with Evans and Mitsubishi’s Juha Kangas dead-heating on the 12km ss14.

Evans said the road conditions were better in the afternoon.

“We had a bit of rain and it settled the dust a bit, which gave us more grip,” he said.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t match the outright pace of Atkinson and Kangas on the fast Watagan stage and had to settle for 3rd, just 21.3sec behind Atkinson.

Behind him, Bates was desperately unlucky not to pick up 4th place after an incredibly close battle with Crocker.

After swapping positions for most of the day, the pair went into the last stage with Bates just 0.8sec in front.

But Crocker managed to better Bates’ time on 24km stage by 2.4sec, enough to snatch 4th place by just 1.6 sec.

Behind them Ben Barker outlined his potential by grabbing 6th place by a comfortable margin.

Although disappointed to have narrowly lost out to Crocker, Bates was ecstatic with the team’s result.

“I would have loved to have beaten Cody but overall I’m still very happy with our performance this weekend,” he said.

“To get through the rally with all three cars on the pace and all in one piece will give us a lot of confidence going into Melbourne.

“It also means we’ll be able to concentrate on testing without any repair work to do,” he said.

TTR mechanics have been working around the clock since the Safari Rally in Tasmania, where Evans’ and Barker’s cars were both badly damaged.

“The guys have done a fantastic job for us and I’m glad we could repay them with a strong result this weekend,” he said.

Barker was relieved and satisfied with his result.

“I was very conservative this afternoon because I knew we had a buffer against the guys behind us. I just wanted to finish, but I reckon I might have a bit of a dig in Melbourne,” he said.

The Rally of Melbourne starts on October 2.

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SS16, Final - PODIUM FINISH KEEPS TTR CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES ALIVE


Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans has kept his championship hopes alive with a podium finish in the NSW Premier State Rally today.
Evans’ team-mate Neal Bates finished today’s heat in 5th place, an agonising 1.6 seconds behind Globalstar ARC series leader Cody Crocker in 4th. The result saw Bates finish the weekend 5th.

TTR development driver Ben Barker capped a great result for the team by finishing 6th today and 6th overall for the weekend.

Evans was delighted with his 3rd podium result in five rallies.

"I’m really happy with the way we went this weekend. The championship is still alive and I’m looking forward to the Rally of Melbourne," he said.

The result sees Evans move to 4th in the championship, just 21 points behind Crocker, with 61.5 points up for grabs in the Rally of Melbourne – the final rally of the season.

Evans won the Rally of Melbourne last year and is confident of a strong showing.

“I reckon we’ll be right on the pace in Melbourne,” he said.

Today’s afternoon stages were extremely tight, with Evans and Mitsubishi’s Juha Kangas dead-heating on ss14.

Evans said the road conditions were better in the afternoon.

“We had a bit of rain and it settled the dust a bit, which gave us more grip,” he said.

Evans said his injured leg had come through unscathed on the rough Central Coast roads.

”The better I go the less it hurts,” he said.

Bates was ecstatic with the team’s result, although disappointed to have narrowly lost out to Crocker.

The TTR team boss went into the last stage of the day with a 0.8sec lead, but went down by just 2.4 sec on the 24km stage.

“I would have loved to have beaten Cody but overall I’m still very happy with our performance this weekend,” he said.

“To get through the rally with all three cars on the pace and all in one piece will give us a lot of confidence going into Melbourne.

“It also means we’ll be able to concentrate on testing without any repair work to do,” he said.

TTR mechanics have been working around the clock since the Safari Rally in Tasmania, where Evans’ and Barker’s cars were both badly damaged.

“The guys have done a fantastic job for us and I’m glad we could repay them with a strong result this weekend,” he said.

Barker was relieved and satisfied with his result.

“I was very conservative this afternoon because I knew we had a buffer against the guys behind us. I just wanted to finish, but I reckon I might have a bit of a dig in Melbourne,” he said.

The Rally of Melbourne starts on October 2.

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SS13, Watagan 1 - TOYOTA STRONG IN NSW FORESTS


Toyota Team Racing has three Corollas in the top eight after the first three stages of heat two of the NSW Premier State Rally.
Championship contender Simon Evans is placed 3rd, just 8.3sec behind leader Chris Atkinson, while team-mate Neal Bates is 5th, a further 24.5sec behind.

TTR development driver Ben Barker has bounced back from the disappointment of yesterday’s retirement to be placed 7th.

The morning was marred by a high-speed accident involving Mitsubishi’s Ed Ordynski.

Ordynski was airlifted to hospital with suspected broken ribs. Co-driver Iain Stewart was not seriously injured.

The stage was stopped due to the accident, with just five cars having finished.

Evans was on the pace in the super-fast morning stages, averaging 120kmh in ss13.

"The car’s going really great and I’m really happy with it. Things are really tight out there. Everyone’s pushing very hard," he said.

The roads have proved to be tricky in the first stages, with the surface rough and unpredictable.

“It’s a bit loose and slippery but I’m going to stick with the same set-up. If the car ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said.

Evans is looking to keep the heat on championship leader Cody Crocker, who lies 4th.

Another man with Crocker in his sights is Bates.

“With the way the championship is, I’d love to beat Cody home this afternoon,” he said.

Bates lost time this morning after squashing his exhaust landing after a jump.

“We were down on power through the last couple of stages, but I’m pretty happy with our position,” he said.

He is also resisting the temptation to change set up, despite struggling with grip towards the end of the morning.

“The tyres were going off a bit near the end but we’re going to stick with the compound we had this morning,” he said.

Barker was happy to be back in business after yesterday’s disappointment.

“It’s pretty chopped up, but I was beginning to get into the groove by the last stage,” he said.

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SS10, Heat One - TOYOTA STRONG IN NSW FORESTS


Toyota Team Racing has put in a strong performance in the first heat of the NSW Premier State Rally, with Simon Evans finishing 3rd and Neal Bates 5th.
Evans, who finished the event 29.8sec behind Chris Atkinson, battled back from a spin on stage 9 that cost him more than 20 seconds. He also lost time when he glanced a tree earlier in the day.

Luckless TTR development driver Ben Barker was forced out of the heat on stage nine with a damaged driveshaft. He was running 9th at the time.

Evans was delighted to be back in the heat of the battle after the disappointment of South Australia, when a blown head gasket spoilt his return to rallying.

"That was a good result for us, considering the two moments we had this morning. The car was excellent. I just couldn’t fault it all day," he said.

He predicts tomorrow’s stages will be fast and furious.

”I think Chris will be quick tomorrow, but we’ve shown we’re on the pace today, so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

Bates, who was locked in a tight tussle with championship leader Cody Crocker during the day, was also happy to be back at the pointy end of the field.

“I’m very happy with today. We posted some very good times and we’ve obviously made some gains since South Australia.

“The roads today were pretty rough and dusty and I think that suits the Corollas. Both Simon and I threw everything at them and they came through without a problem. The car’s very strong when the going gets tough,” he said.

He said the team would resist the temptation to do any major work on car set-up tonight.

“I think tomorrow’s stages are going to be very similar today, so we’ll stick with what we’ve got and hope it doesn’t rain,” he said.

Barker will restart the rally tomorrow after nursing his Corolla to the end of stage nine.

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SS7, Middle Ridge 1 - COROLLAS IN TOP FIVE AT NSW PREMIER STATE RALLY


Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans lies 3rd after seven stages of the NSW Premier State Rally, with team-mate Neal Bates placed 5th after a good morning in the Central Coast forest.
TTR development driver Ben Barker is currently classified 9th.

Evans was upbeat after the morning’s action, despite a spin that cost him valuable seconds on the final stage of the morning.

"I got a bit wide coming into a corner and ran out of steering lock and hit an embankment on the inside.

“The worst part was that I had to do a five-point turn to get out of there. It was really frustrating but we’re still in a good position.

“The car’s fantastic. We’re giving it a hiding out there and it’s still going strong," he said.

Bates was also pleased with his morning’s work.

“The car’s been very good and we’ve had a problem-free run this morning. The roads haven’t been as rough as I thought they would be during recce,” he said.

While Evans and Bates will retain their set-ups for the afternoon, Barker will switch to a narrower tyre for the afternoon.

“The car’s just being a little unpredictable and the road’s pretty chopped up and sandy, so we’re going to try something a little different,” he said.

“Most of all, we want to make it to the end and the conditions are pretty tricky out there,” he said.

After last night’s engine dramas, he was happy to be back in action.

”The boys did a fantastic job fixing the car last night and we want to repay them with a good result,” he said.

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SS4, Corolla Sportivo Super 2 - TTR WELL-PLACED AFTER OPENING STAGES OF RALLY NSW


Toyota Team Racing’s Neal Bates lies 2nd after the opening stages of the NSW Premier State Rally, held at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway tonight.
Bates is just 1.7sec behind rally leader Cody Crocker from Subaru, with TTR team-mate Simon Evans placed 4th, 2.8sec behind Bates.

The only drama for TTR came in the form of a blown head gasket on the parade lap for development driver Ben Barker.

Barker failed to start the rally, but will rejoin tomorrow morning.

Bates was happy with the performance of his Corolla in the combination of wet tarmac and gravel stages.

But he predicted much rougher conditions when the rally takes to the forest tomorrow morning.

"The roads are very rough and it’s going to be very hard on the cars. But this is a good start," he said.

TTR is back to a three-car line-up for the rally, with Barker returning to the fray after lending his car to Simon Evans for the Rally of South Australia.

Evans is debuting an all-new car this weekend.

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Shakedown - BATES FASTEST IN SHAKEDOWN SESSION


Toyota Team Racing got its Premier State Rally NSW off to a flying start today with Neal Bates clocking the fastest time in the morning’s shakedown session.
Bates clocked a 45.3sec time, more than a second faster than Subaru’s Dean Herridge, Mitsubishi’s Juha Kangas and privateer Scott Pedder, who all tied for second place with a time of 46.6sec.

TTR development driver Ben Barker was sixth fastest, while Simon Evans was concentrating on car set-up during the fast runs and posted 11th fastest time. The shakedown followed a strong testing day for the team on the Central Coast on Tuesday.

Evans is happy with the pace of his Corolla but believes durability will be the key to the rally. "The roads are the roughest of any we’ve seen during the ARC this year. It’s going to be a real car wrecker," he said.

This weekend sees the team return to a three-car line-up, with Barker returning to action after sitting out the Rally of South Australia to allow Simon Evans to compete.

Evans will debut an all-new Corolla this weekend.

The rally kicks off tonight with four special tarmac and dirt stages at Eastern Creek, before the teams head to the Central Coast forests for the weekend.

Bates, a tarmac specialist, is hoping to get the jump on his rivals early.

“In WA we ended up with a handy lead after the special stages on the Friday and it helped our overall result for the weekend,” he said.

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Preview - EVANS’ NEW CAR SET TO DEBUT


The latest car to roll out of the Toyota Team Racing workshop in Canberra will make its debut in the hands of Simon Evans at the Premier State Rally, starting on August 27.
The new Toyota Corolla will boost Evans’ challenge for the 2004 Globalstar Australian Rally Championship, which he was leading before the Tasmanian event.

Team leader Neal Bates was due to get the new car, but has insisted that Evans takes it to maximise his championship chances.

"I think we probably need to win every heat to the end of the series now if we are going to have any chance of winning the championship," said Evans as he prepared for the NSW round.

“That’s the way I’m approaching the final two rounds – to win every heat.”

The new Toyota Corolla Sportivo will be the fourth Group N machine built by the Neal Bates Motorsport crew and is a logical development of the existing cars.

“It’s basically the same as the others because there’s nothing major we want to do at the moment,” said Bates.

“Of course, there’s a bit of refinement in the way you do things and every time you build one you hope to reduce the weight. Hopefully it will be a little bit lighter than the others – maybe 10 or 15 kilograms.”

Evans said he was excited at the prospect of driving the new car, and a little surprised.

“I’m very lucky to have the new car because I expected it to be Neal’s, but he was adamant that I take it and I’m extremely happy,” Evans said. The gritty Victorian has almost fully recovered from a broken right leg and says he will be ready to charge from the start of the NSW round next week.

“I was a little bit sore and tired after the last event in Adelaide, but we achieved what we set out to do, which was to score some points.

“I wasn’t using quite as much of the road as I would normally and I was a bit cautious over the rough stuff because my suit was pinching the scar, which was still a bit tender.

“For Sydney, though, it will be back to normal. I know what to expect and I won’t be holding back.

“Now it’s back to maximum attack!”

…..ends/15893

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