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2005 Forest Rally

  1. TTR CONFIDENT OF STRONG SHOWING IN OPENING ROUND
  2. TTR LOOKING GOOD FOR FOREST RALLY
  3. TOYOTA TAMES THE TARMAC TO TAKE EARLY LEAD IN RALLY WA
  4. EARLY DRAMAS FOR TOYOTA IN RALLY WA
  5. TTR DOES IT TOUGH IN RALLY WA
  6. EVANS SALVAGES POINTS ON A DIFFICULT DAY FOR TTR
  7. EVANS FIGHTS FOR RALLY WA HEAT WIN
  8. EVANS FALLS AGONISINGLY SHORT OF HEAT WIN IN WA

TTR CONFIDENT OF STRONG SHOWING IN OPENING ROUND


Toyota Team Racing remains in an upbeat mood heading into this weekend’s opening round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship in Western Australia, despite an eventful testing session at Nannup yesterday.

Ben Barker’s morning test session was cut short following a minor off-road excursion, while heavy rain forced Neal Bates to end his afternoon test after just four runs over the stage.

But Simon Evans had a trouble-free day and team boss Bates is in an upbeat mood heading into this weekend’s season opener.

"Ben’s car suffered very minor damage and he could have continued but we decided to end the test so we could make sure the car was in mint condition for the weekend," he said,

“But Simon was very happy with his test. The ’05 spec Corolla has a lot more lateral grip than last year’s car, which means it is much improved on the slippery surfaces over here in Perth,” he said,

“Of course, we expect the opposition to have made similar improvements so we won’t know where we are until we get into the forest on Saturday,” he said.

The team made only minor adjustments to the set-up used for the Capital Rally in Canberra.

“The roads are quite similar, so we just focused on spring rates and minor changes,” Bates said,

Bates expects to have all three of the Corollas challenging for outright honours this weekend.

The Corollas showed good speed in last month’s international event in Canberra and the team has been buoyed by the successful hit-out.

The Quit Forest Rally based in Busselton south of Perth is the opening round of the all-important ARC Drivers Championship, which is TTR’s major goal for 2005.

Simon Evans is particularly keen to return to Western Australia after winning last year’s event on his debut with Toyota.

“Last year we had a dream debut for Toyota,” said Evans.

“We finished second on the road, which we were just rapt about, and then we were given the win a few days later when Chris (Atkinson) was excluded.

“This year I’d love to have a win that we can celebrate properly with the crew.

“This is one of my favourite events because I love it when it’s slippery.”

The Quit Forest Rally kicks off on Friday night with the spectacular Busselton Toyota Superstage at Barnard Park on the town’s foreshore.

Ends/19705

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TTR LOOKING GOOD FOR FOREST RALLY


Toyota Team Racing is on track for a strong showing in the WA Quit Forest Rally after a solid shakedown session on the Busselton Special Stage this morning.

In a rarity for the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship, today’s shakedown was held on the bitumen, although rain made for a slippery surface.

TTR team boss Neal Bates was 2nd fastest behind Subaru’s Cody Crocker, while Bates’ team mate Ben Barker recorded the 7th fastest time and Simon Evans was 9th in the number 10 Corolla.

Tarmac specialist Bates is hoping to get the jump on his rivals when the rally kicks off with two bitumen stages tonight.

"I’m happy with the car and looking forward to having a go on the tarmac. But having said that I think it’s going to be very tight tonight. I don’t think anyone’s going to take a big advantage into the forest tomorrow," he said.

Evans is hoping to get his rally off to a good start by abandoning his “sideways” style for the tarmac.

“Tonight’s all about keeping it neat and smooth,” he said.

The popular Victorian is aiming to make it back to back wins in the Forest Rally, after securing his maiden victory for TTR in last year’s event.

“This is one of my favourite surfaces. It’s very slippery and that suits my driving style,” he said.

The Quit Forest Rally kicks off tonight with two special stages around the Busselton foreshore.

Ends

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TOYOTA TAMES THE TARMAC TO TAKE EARLY LEAD IN RALLY WA


Toyota Team Racing duo Neal Bates and Simon Evans swapped fastest times on the opening two stages of the Quit Forest Rally WA to give the team a handy lead going into the forest tomorrow.

Tarmac specialist Bates won the opening super special stage in Busselton by one second over Evans, with Kevin Shaw the surprise packet in 3rd place.

But Evans turned the tables on his boss in the second run-through of the 2.4km stage, snatching fastest time by just one tenth. Subaru’s Cody Crocker was 3rd, 1.3sec behind Bates.

The result gives Bates a lead of .9sec over Evans, with Mitsubishi’s Scott Pedder placed 3rd, 3.9sec off the lead.

The third Toyota driver Ben Barker, put in a solid performance to be placed 7th overall, 5.3sec behind Bates.

Bates was cautiously optimistic after the stage.

"Obviously it’s nice to start the rally with a stage win, but the real work starts tomorrow. It’s going to be a very tough rally," he said.

The first of the dirt stages starts tomorrow morning in the forests around Nannup, south of Perth. First car is on the road at 10am local time.

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EARLY DRAMAS FOR TOYOTA IN RALLY WA


Toyota Team Racing had a tough time in the West Australian forests this morning, with Simon Evans badly damaging the front left corner of his Corolla in an off-road excursion just 3km into the first stage of the day.

Evans was forced to limp through the rest of the stage and the next one, finishing 2min52.4sec behind leader Cody Crocker.

Team mate Neal Bates was hampered by a heavy downpour that hit just before he began the second stage of the day.

He lies 5th in the rally, 32.1sec behind Crocker.

Ben Barker finished the morning in 6th place, 13.4sec behind Bates.

Evans made no excuses for the incident.

"I just simply came into a corner too fast and paid the penalty. It’s a shame because the car was feeling fantastic," he said,

Bates said the conditions were slippery, but not as bad as expected.

“The car felt pretty good to drive but I was probably a little over cautious because of the conditions,” he said.

The team has switched to a cut tyre for the next stages in an attempt to get more grip.
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TTR DOES IT TOUGH IN RALLY WA


TTR has had a morning to forget on Day One of the Rally WA, with Neal Bates forced to retire from Heat One of the event after an exposed rock on the road surface cracked his gearbox casing on stage five.

Team mate Simon Evans is fighting his way back through the field after an off-road excursion in the first stage of the rally.

Evans and Ben Barker had to cope with treacherous conditions, with torrential rain making visibility close to zero on some stages.

Barker is 5th after six stages of the rally, while Evans finished the morning in 7th place.

Evans, who hit the same rock as Bates but did less damage to his gearbox, will take a conservative approach to the afternoon stages.

"I’ve just got to keep it consistently clean, work my way back and pick up some points," he said.

He said conditions were hard to read, with the road becoming quite chopped up due to the rain,

“It’s a very tough rally and if you can get through it you’re doing really well,” he said.

Barker said the changeable road conditions meant survival was the name of the game.

“It’s very tricky because there are sections where there’s absolutely no grip and others where it’s quite good,” he said.

“I’ve been a little conservative this morning. In these conditions you’ve just got to look after the car and bring it home,” he said.

“The guys up front are going pretty hard so I’m just sitting back and hoping for a bit of attrition this afternoon,” he said.

Bates was naturally disappointed.

“It was just very bad luck really. The rock was right on our driving line and there was nowhere to go. The impact was so hard we nearly rolled the car,” he said.

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EVANS SALVAGES POINTS ON A DIFFICULT DAY FOR TTR


TTR’s Simon Evans fought back from a series of setbacks to collect valuable points from the first heat of the Quit Forest Rally WA today.

In a day when luck deserted the team, Evans managed to finish Heat One in 6th place, just 3.2 seconds behind Subaru’s Brad Goldsborough.

Evans’ team mate Ben Barker drove with maturity to hold down 5th place till late in the day, before a puncture on the 3rd last stage saw him drop down the order to 10th.

Barker’s puncture summed up TTR’s fortunes on what was at times a brutal first day in the forest.

Team boss Neal Bates was forced out of the event after hitting a rock in the middle of the road on stage 5.

The rock, which cracked his gearbox, also claimed Evans, although the damage to the Victorian’s Corolla was less severe and he was able to continue.

Bates said the team was determined to salvage what it could from the rally.

"That was a very, very tough day. Obviously, I’m really disappointed but as they say ‘that’s rallying’."

“I think the conditions today were some of the worst I’ve ever driven in. The force that we hit the rock with almost rolled the car,” he said.

Evans was relieved to have taken away points after a disastrous start to the day.

“The car’s just fantastic. To put it through what I did today and still have it finish, that’s awesome.”

He was also buoyed by his pace in the afternoon.

“I think we made a good tyre choice in the arvo and we were on the pace.”

He said tomorrow’s heat would be a case of balancing speed with safety.

“It’s going to be a real sprint to the finish and I’ll be really going for it. But in the back of my mind I’ll be thinking I’ve got to finish. There’s no point in winning a few stages and then throwing the car off the road. Fast but safe is the way to go,” he said.

Barker was disappointed to see a good points haul slip away so close to the finish of the heat.

“We had a reasonable buffer behind us and it was all sitting on a plate ready to take home, but that’s life,” he said.

“It’s disappointing when that happens after you’ve driven conservatively and tried to bring home some points for the team, with the other guys having problems,” he said.

Despite his disappointment, Barker will take the same approach tomorrow.

“It’s probably going to be tougher tomorrow so you have to play it smart and bring the car back in one piece,” he said.

The one bright spot on the day for Toyota was the performance of privateer Corolla driver Martin Lintott who picked up valuable manufacturer’s points in 7th place.
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EVANS FIGHTS FOR RALLY WA HEAT WIN


TTR’s Simon Evans is locked in a thrilling battle for the lead in Heat Two of the Forest Rally in Western Australia, trailing Subaru’s Cody Crocker by just 4secs with three stages remaining in the rally.

The Victorian was quick right out of the blocks this morning, setting the fastest time on the first stage of the day.

Team mates Ben Barker and Neal Bates are having their own battle for fifth and sixth position, with the apprentice leading the master by just 2.6secs.

Evans said the morning’s conditions were much better, allowing him to press on in pursuit of Crocker.

"The surface is much more predictable this morning and we were able to have a bit of a go on the early stages. I took a couple of calculated risks, but I’m still trying to keep it as neat as possible," he said.

“Overall, the car feels great,” he said.

Bates said he had suffered from an over-cautious approach this morning, after yesterday’s atrocious conditions.

“The conditions were actually pretty good this morning and I was probably guilty of being a little tentative out there,” he said.

Barker was satisfied with his morning’s work.

“It’s always nice to get one up on the boss,” he said.

“The surface is more consistent than yesterday and we’re just concentrating on not doing anything stupid,” he said.

“We’re not going to catch the guys in front but at the same time, we’ve got a fair buffer to the guys behind, so we can afford to take it fairly easy,” he said.

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EVANS FALLS AGONISINGLY SHORT OF HEAT WIN IN WA


A cracked brake disc on the second last stage of the rally put paid to an inspired charge by Toyota’s Simon Evans in heat 2 of the Rally of WA.

Evans overhauled rally leader Cody Crocker on the 2nd last stage of the day, but the lead came at a cost for the popular Victorian.

A rut on the road cracked a brake disc on his Corolla with just over 1km to go on the stage.

Evans struggled through the next stage with just one brake, but the rally was lost and he was forced to settle for second.

Meanwhile Evans’ team mates Neal Bates and Ben Barker engaged in a hard-fought battle for 5th and 6th place, with Bates eventually prevailing by 18 seconds.

Evans finished 4th overall in the rally, with Bates 7th and Barker 8th. Privateer Martin Lintott made it four Corollas in the top ten, finishing 9th overall.

Evans couldn’t hide his disappointment after working so hard to get into a winning position.

"I’m absolutely filthy about that. We’d caught Cody and were on a charge. There were a few choice words on the in-car, that’s for sure," he said.

“We were coming into a hairpin and the wheel caught in a rut. It must have flexed the disc and cracked it. It also bent the steering. I had a look at it at the end of the stage, but there’s was nothing I could so we just had to press on. It was pretty frightened on that last stage,” he said.

Despite the disappointment, Evans was happy with the performance of the Corolla over the weekend, especially today.

“The car was just fantastic out there today. We’ve still got a bit of work to do when it gets slippery but we’re right on the money when it’s dry,” he said.

Team boss Neal Bates agreed with Evans.

“As it dried out today, the car felt a lot better. I certainly had a better day than yesterday,” he said.

“We had pace today but there’s still a bit of work to do,” he said.

“I was very happy with Simon’s performance. He drove incredibly well,” he said.

Barker was satisfied with today’s points haul after the disappointment of yesterday, when he was holding down 5th place before a puncture on the last stage dropped him to 10th.

“Overall, I’m happy with the weekend. We had some reasonable pace today and I feel like we’ve come a long way since this time last year. It should be a good year for us,” he said.

Toyota is now in 2nd place in the manufacturers’ championship.

Drivers’ championship (after 1st round)

1. Cody Crocker (Subaru) 41
=2. Juha Kangas (Subaru) 26
=2. Dean Herridge (Subaru) 26
4. Simon Evans (Toyota) 24
5. Scott Pedder (Mitsubishi) 20
6. Brad Goldsborough (Subaru) 16
7. Neal Bates (Toyota) 10
8 Ben Barker (Toyota) 9

Manufacturers’ Championship (after 2 rounds)

Subaru 140
Toyota 102
Mitsubishi 74

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