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BATES EAGER FOR RALLY OF QUEENSLAND

Toyota driver Neal Bates is hoping to continue his run of good performances in the Rally of Queensland when he competes in the 2001 event on June 16 and 17.
The three time Australian Rally Champion and his co-driver Coral Taylor have won the Sunshine Coast event outright or come equal first in five of the last seven years.

Last year Bates took the first heat of the Rally of Queensland by seven seconds from championship rival Possum Bourne.

It confirmed Batesí enthusiasm for the hard gravel roads around Caloundra.

The Toyota driver is also looking forward to the eventís unique all-tarmac stage near Noosa where his circuit racing experience has previously come to the fore.

"Our record in Queensland speaks for itself, and Iím looking forward to a good result again this year," said Bates.

Bates goes into the second round of the Australian Rally Championship Super Series sharing the series points lead with Bourne.

Both are on 36 points after they each won a heat in the opening round, the Respect Yourself Forest Rally in Perth.

There, Bates drove brilliantly in an attempt to overcome a speed disadvantage between his four year old Corolla World Rally Car and the newer machine of championship rival Possum Bourne.

Bates said that while Bourneís car was faster in WA, his own car has improved and is now as good as he can make it.

"We went testing the other day and the car felt incredibly good," he said.

"The tighter, twistier east coast rallies like Queensland and the Rally of Melbourne should better suit the Corolla and my driving style," said Bates.

Meanwhile, the Toyota team has found the cause of the two driveshaft failures that ruined its chances of outright victory in the recent Rally of Canberra.

The problem was caused by a manufacturing fault in a new batch of driveshafts imported from Europe.

"The manufacturers have acknowledged the problem and are replacing the driveshafts with new ones as soon as possible," said Bates.

"In the meantime we are using some other, proven, driveshafts which shouldnít give us a problem in Queensland."

Bates said mechanical reliability may decide the next round of the championship.

"Thereís likely to be just a few seconds between Possum and me in terms of speed, so if anyone has a mechanical problem that will decide the result."



 
IMAGES
Neal Bates and Coral Taylor's Toyota Corolla World Rally Car.