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Toyota driver Neal Bates is looking forward to the Australian Rally Championship’s journey into the relatively unknown territory of the Adelaide Hills (July 7-8).
It will be the first time since 1996 that a round of the ARC Super Series has been held in South Australia, and the unfamiliar stages around Mount Crawford are expected to be a stern test of drivers and navigators.

Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor are keen to exercise their renowned pace-noting skills.

“We will enjoy the challenge. The other rallies in the ARC Super Series pretty much use the same routes from year to year, so teams don’t often get a chance to write a complete set of notes,” said Bates.

“I think people forget what an important part of a rally driver’s skills pace-noting is.”

The three time Australian Rally Champion says the unfamiliar roads will make the choice of tyres even more critical than usual.

He says Michelin has supplied a tyre which should suit the expected conditions. “My memory of the roads in South Australia is that there is a lot of surface changes and the gravel is quite loose,” said Bates.

Bates won the Rally of South Australia in 1995 when it was run on the open roads around Mount Gambier.

He backed that up with a strong second place in the 1996 event.

This year the rally will be run in the Adelaide Hills on a mixture of tight technical forest stages and flowing shire roads.

“It’s been a long time since we were last in South Australia, so I’m really looking forward to competing in a new rally there,” said Bates.

The rally will also take in a stage previously used during the famous Redex around-Australia trials of the 1950s.

Bates says his Corolla World Rally Car is quicker than ever, pointing out that at last month’s second round of the ARC Super Series in Queensland he beat several of his previous best stage times.

The Toyota Havoline Rally Team car finished second in both heats of the Sunshine Coast event, despite hydraulic pump and gearbox problems in heat one.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor in action in their Corolla World Rally Car in the recent Rally of Queensland.