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2004 Subaru Safari Tasmania



Toyota Team Racing driver Simon Evans is recovering in hospital this morning from successful surgery on a fractured leg suffered in a crash during the Safari Rally of Tasmania.
Evans, who was challenging for the lead of the event, came off the road at high speed and hit a tree stump during stage 13 of yesterday’s heat.

The same corner had only moments before claimed the leading Subaru of Chris Atkinson.

Simon’s wife and co-driver Sue suffered minor injuries in the crash, but was cleared by hospital staff yesterday.

Despite his disappointment, Evans was in good spirits this morning and said doctors were pleased with his progress.

"I can already move my accelerator foot," he said.

He was full of praise for his fellow competitors, who rushed to his aid following the crash.

“I really want to thank all the guys that helped out. Ben and Chris Atkinson were the first ones there and they did everything right. Scott Pedder was brilliant too,” he said.

Evans is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of his Toyota Corolla as soon as he gets the green light from the doctors.

“I’ll be back as soon as they let me,” he said.

Doctors believe Evans will be on crutches for six to eight weeks.

TTR mechanics will assess the damage to both Corollas today and work will begin as soon as the team returns to its base in Canberra.

Team boss Neal Bates, who finished 4th in yesterday’s event, said the team would be working around the clock to be ready for the Rally of South Australia next month.

“We’ve got a huge job in front of us but we’re aiming to come back bigger and better for Adelaide,” he said.

“It’s been a tough weekend but the most important thing is that Simon is OK,” he said.

Mitsubishi’s Juha Kangas won the weekend’s event from Subaru’s Cody Crocker.

Evans is now on 77pts, behind Crocker on 82 points.

Bates is placed fifth with 60 points, just behind Kangas on 62 points and Subaru’s Dean Herridge on 64pts.

Round four of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship is the Coopers Pale Ale Rally SA from July 30 to August 1.

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Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans is fighting for the lead in heat 2 of the Safari Rally Tasmania.
Evans finished the morning’s stages just 2.9 seconds behind Subaru privateer Chris Atkinson. TTR team mate Neal Bates lies in 6th place, 21.9secs off the lead.

Unfortunately, rookie TTR driver Ben Barker had an accident on stage 11 and is out of the event. Both Barker and co-driver Damien Long were unhurt in the accident.

A change in set-up overnight has given Evans an extra edge in this morning’s stages.

"We went to a harder spring set up overnight and the car feels a lot better. The grip’s a lot better, particularly in the high speed corners and I was able to drive it with more confidence," he said.

Bates was happy with his car’s pace in the last two stages.

“We had one slower stage but after that our pace improved a fair bit. We were getting pretty good grip from the tyres and we’re not going to change anything for the afternoon,” he said.

With five stages left in the rally, the result still hangs in the balance.

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Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans has retained his lead in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship after finishing 4th in a fast and furious opening day of the Safari of Tasmania.
Today’s result takes Evans to 77 points, 11pts ahead of Subaru’s Cody Crocker.

TTR team mate Neal Bates overcame an early setback to finish 6th for the day, while rookie Ben Barker also fought back to end the day 9th, just 2.9sec adrift of 8th place.

Evans was pleased with his effort on the daunting Geeveston roads.

He said: "I drove flat out and took a few risks in the last stages - everyone was going really hard out there.

“Overall I was happy with the way the car felt and the way I drove. But I hate not winning so I’m a little disappointed with the final result," he said.

“We’ll try a few things overnight and see how they go tomorrow,” he said.

Team mate Neal Bates was pleased with his finish after an off in the morning that cost him several seconds.

“I had a good battle with Ed at the end and managed to round him up, so that was good,” he said.

He said the roads were proving hard to read at times.

“The conditions are difficult. The surface changes a lot in terms of grip and it’s easy to get caught out,” he said.

Bates was impressed with the performance of TTR rookie Ben Barker, who scored points with a 9th place finish.

“Ben did a great job out there. Overall it was a solid points haul for the team,” he said.

Barker was glad to get another day of competition under his belt with co-driver Damien Long.

“We’re really improving as a team and we were getting faster with every stage. I’m learning a lot and the best thing is that I’m having fun doing it,” he said.

The teams will complete another eight stages in the forests around Geeveston tomorrow before heading back to Hobart for a spectacular super special stage on the banks of the Derwent River.

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Toyota Team Racing was on target for a solid points haul from the first heat of the Safari Rally in Tasmania, with three cars in the top 10 after stage 4.
Victorian Simon Evans is the best placed of the Toyota trio, sitting in fourth position, 10.2secs behind the leading car of Subaru’s Cody Crocker.

Neal Bates is in 8th place, 51.5secs behind Crocker, after a spin on the first stage of the day cost him valuable seconds.

Team mate Ben Barker also had a moment on the opening stage, but fought back strongly to end up 10th, 1.30.9sec off the lead.

Evans was happy to come through the morning unscathed after an off-road excursion on the 4th stage.

"I overshot a junction at one point and lost some time. There are some fairly slippery sections out there.

“Overall I’m happy with the morning. The car’s perfect and the crew’s leaving it alone for the afternoon," he said.

Bates was also happy with the set-up of his car.

“We’re using a softer compound and it’s working pretty well. We spun and lost a lot of time in the first session, but overall the Corolla feels strong,” he said.

Barker was pleased with his morning’s work.

“The car’s very balanced and we’re not going to make any changes for the afternoon, except to rotate the tyres after the second stage,” he said.

Evans leads the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship by 15 points after two rounds, with Bates 4th and Barker 12th.

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Toyota Team Racing wrapped up its preparations for Tasmania’s Safari Rally with an encouraging shakedown session at the Derwent Entertainment Centre in Hobart this morning.
Team boss Neal Bates was fifth fastest in the short morning stage with a time of 1:01.45, while team-mate Simon Evans was 10th and Ben Barker was 11th.

The only drama of the morning was a differential problem for Barker, which the team is confident of fixing before the rally begins tomorrow.

Bates said the team was ready to take on the fast and flowing Tasmanian roads.

"Everything went really well on our Tuesday test and we believe the nature of the roads should suit the Corollas. Of course, we’ll have to get into the forest to see how we are placed against the other teams," he said.

He said tyre choice would be critical over the weekend, with changeable weather predicted.

The first competitive stages of the rally start tomorrow morning at Geeveston.

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Toyota Team Racing drivers Neal Bates and Simon Evans hope a new tyre compound developed specifically for the event will give them an edge in this weekend’s third round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship in Tasmania.
Bates and Evans tested their TTR Corolla Sportivos in the Tasmanian southern forests today (Tuesday) and encountered the cold, wet and slippery conditions they can expect this weekend.

Championship leader Evans hopes the new BFGoodrich tyre will help him extend his points advantage as the 2004 championship reaches the half-way mark.

Compounding the challenge of competing in Tasmania in the middle of winter will be a completely different course to previous years, with the rally moving into the Huon Valley forests south-west of Hobart.

Last year, TTR enjoyed its best result of the season when Neal Bates placed fourth, but that event was held in blistering heat in November, not the arctic temperatures expected this weekend.

Bates anticipates wet weather and that will be a test for the new tyres, which have yet to be fully tested in the heat of a forest battle.

With extra-cold temperatures likely, BFG produced a special super-soft compound version of the 2004 tyre specifically for the Tasmanian event, though they may also get used next month in South Australia.

"I really enjoy the Tasmanian rally and the roads seem to suit our cars, but this year it will be completely different because it will be held for the first time in a completely different forest south-west of Hobart," said Bates.

“However, I’m told that all the forests roads in Tasmania are quite similar because they are built for logging trucks, so I’m anticipating another good event.

“The roads are reasonably wide and have a firm base. They are very well formed and therefore have pretty good grip even when they’re wet - but I’d still prefer it to stay dry!

“The Toyota Corolla Sportivos are performing really well this year, so our sights are now set much higher than they were last year. Now it will be disappointing if we are not at least on the podium at every event.”

The event will have a high-profile party start on Friday night at Parliament House near the historic Salamanca Place, giving fans the chance to see the cars at close quarters and to meet the drivers.

The action proper then moves to the Southern Forests near the scenic Huon Valley, about 45 minutes south of Hobart. The event will be based around the town of Geeveston, adjacent to the Hopetoun and Tahune Forests.


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