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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 feat in modern motorsport.

"Obviously I am incredibly happy to win a fourth title," Bates said. "I think it will take a while for what we have achieved to actually sink in, as this weekend was very difficult.

"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."

Bates has secured 32 outright ARC wins in a career spanning more than 20 years. He 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. He 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.

"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," Evans said.

"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 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."

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 result that saw him claim third overall.

"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," Raymond said.

"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."

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.

Click 'Team TRD Rally' in the left menu and 'Coffs Coast Rally' for full details of the event and a range of high-resolution images.

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

...ends/55386-1

For more information, contact:
Todd Connolly
Motorsport manager
0438 249 808
todd.connolly@toyota.com.au



 
IMAGES
Team TRD Rally celebrate winning the 2008 Australian Rally Championship Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships following the season-ending Coffs Coast Rally.
Neal Bates and Coral Taylor in their TRD Toyota Corolla on the Sherwood B 4 stage of the 2008 Coffs Coast Rally