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BATES TAKES AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

Toyota Team Australia's Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have taken the lead in the Australian Rally Championship with a dramatic victory in heat two of the Rally of Melbourne.

The TTA crew worked to within minutes of the heat two deadline to repair their Corolla following a Saturday rollover in the treacherous snowy conditions.

Bates and Taylor dominated the second heat, finishing a full two minutes 12 seconds ahead of Ed Ordynski.

Bates now heads to the final round of the ARC Super Series in Tasmania with a slender 8 point lead on unadjusted points.

The Toyota pair's main rival, Possum Bourne, also crashed on Saturday and took no further part in the rally.

"I owe this result to the team - they did a terrific job working well into the night and we're right back in the championship as a result," Bates said.

"The team worked miracles to repair major panel and glass damage."

The team also replaced the turbo as a precautionary measure.

The Corolla's engine had been shutdown quickly after the accident before the turbo had a chance to cool down.

The championship will be decided at the September 11-12 Saxon Safari in Tasmania, where 50 percent more points will be on offer.

The Melbourne result continues Bates' and Taylor's domination in Victoria. They have now won four of the last six Rally of Melbourne heats.

The pair was fastest in the event's opening stage - the only stage completed by both the TTA Corolla and Bourne.

Meanwhile, Newcastle's Steve Forsberg remains in contention for the Formula Two title in his production Corolla.





 
IMAGES
Neal Bates on his way to victory in the second leg of the 1999 Rally of Melbourne.