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2004 TTR Profiles



Simon Evans and Ben Barker have joined Toyota Team Racing for an expanded three-car assault on the 2004 Globalstar Australian Rally Championship.
Evans, 31, is the hottest driver on the Australian rally scene and was recently voted the CAMS Motorsport Personality of the Year.

Joining Toyota is something of a homecoming for Evans, who first made his mark on the sport in the 1995 Corolla Cup, a series designed by Toyota to unearth young talent.

After winning the series two years in succession, Evans then converted his Corolla Cup winning car into Group A specification with the help of Neal Bates Motorsport.

He will share his new Toyota Corolla Sportivo rally car with his wife Sue, who has been his co-driver for six years.

Barker, 22, is regarded as a future star of the sport and spent the past year as a test driver for TTR.

Toyota Australia is keen to foster young talent and provided the extra budget required to run a third car in all six rounds of the ARC, starting in WA on March 27-28.

Barker’s co-driver will be the experienced Damien Long, 34, who last year partnered Rick Bates in TTR’s debut season with the prototype Corolla Sportivos.

Team leader Neal Bates is confident that the Corolla Sportivos have benefited from off-season testing and will be more competitive in their second season.

Development by Neal Bates Motorsport has resulted in horsepower gains, reduced weight and improved handling.

Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor will be gunning for their fourth national title together, having won three in succession from 1993 to 1995.

Evans has been the outstanding privateer in Australian rallying in recent years while his raw speed and flamboyant driving style have made him a crowd favourite.

Last year he broke through for him first ARC round win, on home soil in the NGK Rally of Melbourne.

Gaining a works drive, however, is the highlight of his career to date.

"My ambition has always been to win the Australian Rally Championship and to do that you have to be in a works team, so this is a great opportunity for me," Evans said.

“Toyota is a fantastic company to be associated with and they share my determination to win the championship.

“When I tested the Corolla Sportivo last month, it felt really well balanced and I could definitely feel the potential. I feel very comfortable in the car and with the team.”


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Toyota's prototype rally car, the Australian-developed Corolla Sportivo, is 10 to 12 percent better in its second series, according to its designer and builder Neal Bates.
Bates and his Canberra-based team have worked throughout the off-season to build a significantly improved car for this year's Globalstar Australian Rally Championship.

The TTR operation has found improvements in power, handling and in weight reduction.

Although work is still in progress, Bates believes he has been able to pull up to 20kg from the vehicle's weight to get it close to its allowable minimum of 1385kg.

Engine performance is being increased and suspension is to be altered and tested over three dynamic sessions in the lead-up to the opening round in WA on March 27-28.

TTR is building a completely new car for Simon and Sue Evans.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor will initially retain the Corolla they used in the 2003 season, although it has been completely stripped and recalibrated.

A new car will be built mid-season.

TTR is pleased with the results of its first season with the world's first prototype GpN rally car, which finished eighth in the ARC.

It began its first season almost 1.5 seconds a kilometre slower than the rally winner and ended just 0.3 seconds a kilometre slower.

~It remains to be seen how much gain our opposition has been able to make over the summer,~ Neal Bates said.

~It’s usual that each new season starts with the lead cars going about half a second a kilometre faster than they did in the previous year.

~If that's the case, then our improvements may still not be enough – but we are hopeful we will be closer to the podium than we were last year.~

Reliability was not a problem for the TTR lead car in 2003 – a credit to the team.

~We have been very careful in seeking gains for the 2004 season to adopt a reliability-first policy,~ Bates said.


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Career Highlight?

Winning three Australian Championships.

Career Ambition?

Three more Australian Championships.

2004 Ambition?

One more Australian Championship.

Favourite rally?

Rally of Melbourne.

Most daunting stage?

Any stage with red clay!

When did you get your big break?

1989 Toyota Star Search Competition.

Most feared/respected competitor:

Possum Bourne. Great competitor and never gave up.

Scariest rally moment:


Scariest non-rally moment?

Jumping out of an aeroplane – even though I had a parachute.

Favourite drive (non-rally)?

Any drive in my truck. Love trucks.

Pet hate on the road?

Traffic jams in Sydney. We don’t have them in Canberra.


What scares you?

Trees and snakes.

What annoys you?

Not enough time to go water skiing.

What are you listening to?

The guys’ bad humour in the workshop.

What are you reading?


If you weren’t a rally driver, you would have been a?

Doctor or model.

My dream job (other than rally) would be?

No other dream job.

Other passion?

Water skiing and motor bike riding.

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Triple Australian rally champion Neal Bates is one of the most successful and popular drivers in the sport’s history and has been an ambassador for Toyota for 15 years.
Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor were the first crew to win three successive Australian Rally Championships, driving Toyota Celicas to victory in 1993, ’94 and ’95.

Bates was something of a prodigy when he first stepped into a rally car at the age of 18 in 1984 and caught the eye of Toyota Australia with his exploits in an early model Celica. He was invited to take part in the 1989 Toyota Star Search circuit racing program and, despite limited bitumen experience, won his class at Bathurst driving a works Corolla.

When Toyota decided to run a new Celica GT-Four in rallying, Bates was the natural choice as driver. Together, they tackled the ARC with a succession of Celica and Corolla rally cars, finishing top three in the championship a remarkable 11 straight years up to 2001, when new rules forced them out for a season to produce a new car.

The successful partnership was restored in 2003 with the formation of Toyota Team Racing, running a pair of Corolla Sportivos under the new Group N (Prototype) regulations. Developing the new cars as he went, Neal finished the championship in eighth place and underlined his ability with six Super Special stage wins.

Neal’s talents have been recognised internationally by people such as Toyota Team Europe boss Ove Andersson, who gave him the opportunity to compete in the local region rounds of the World Rally Championship.

He competed in his first International Rally with TTE in 1991 at Rally Australia and in 1996 finished an amazing sixth outright in the New Zealand WRC round.

A natural all-rounder, Neal has performed well when given a chance to compete on the blacktop and has 11 times contested the Bathurst 1000, finishing in the top ten twice.

He also won the 1995 Targa Tasmania outright driving a Toyota Celica GT-Four and scored three successive class wins with a Lexus IS200 in 1999, 2000 and 2001.


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Career Highlight?

Winning the Australian Rally Championship

Career Ambition?

I always had a dream to compete in the WRC, but realistically that isn’t going to happen. My ambition is to always do the best possible job as a co-driver, and also as a manager of the team logistics. And to continue to enjoy it as much as I do now.

2004 Ambition?

To win the ARC again!

Favourite rally?

Hard to call. There’s something "favourite" about each of them. WA – the people and the organisation (and a great place to stay - on the ocean at Busselton). Tassie and Melbourne – fantastic drivers’ roads. Queensland – because the roads are very demanding and it’s a great sense of achievement when you get it right (and the winter weather’s not bad!) SA has terrific spectator venues so it’s always a favourite with our guests.

Most daunting stage?

Some of the Queensland stages where the notes are tricky.

When did you get your big break?

In 1991 when asked to join Mazda Rally Team Australia, followed by joining Toyota’s rally program in 1993.

Most feared/respected competitor?

Possum Bourne – he always gave 110 percent and has an incredible record to prove it. Not only was he respected for his driving, but also for his commitment to the sport. And we didn’t appreciate it enough when he was alive.

Scariest rally moment?

Thinking there might not be another one! (2002 when we didn’t have a rally program)


Scariest moment?

A half-spin at 150km/h during the Rosebery stage at Targa Tasmania with a solid rock face along the side of the road.

Favourite drive (non-rally)?

Driving the truck over to Perth.

Pet hate on the road?

Lots of them: Incompetent drivers. Drivers who travel slowly sitting in the right hand lane. Car drivers who race up the inside lane when you’re in a truck trying to take a wide berth on a turn. Zero tolerance speed cameras in Victoria.


What scares you?

The thought of sleeping in and being late to a start control! …more SPOTLIGHT ON CORAL TAYLOR

What annoys you?

Queues and those computer voices at the end of the telephone line asking you to press buttons.

What are you listening to?

Mark Lavoine (a French singer on a CD bought back from France by my daughter.)

What are you reading?

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

If I wasn’t a rally driver, I would have been a:

Who knows? One rally with my father in 1979 set a path that changed everything I did with my life.

My dream job (other than rally) would be:

Hard pressed to think of one when I have my dream job.

Other passion:

I’m a keen gardener, I love water skiing, my daughter competes on horses and I’m a passionate strapper come service crew, and much to most people’s amusement I quilt.


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Coral Taylor is one of the most successful women in the history of Australian motorsport.
The daughter of rally veteran Norm Fritter, she made her motorsport debut at the age of 18 as co-driver for her father in the gruelling 1979 Repco Round Australia Trial, sparking a passion that has not waned since.

She won her first rally as a co-driver for Peter Glennie in 1986 and began her association with Toyota in 1993, where she teamed up with Neal Bates to re-write the local record books.

The two won the Australian Rally Championship at their first attempt and then backed up to win the next two years, becoming the only pairing in Australian rally history to have won three consecutive rally championships.

It was a dream start to her new career with Toyota.

Coral and Neal went on to win several individual rallies in the following six years, finishing runners-up in the championship five times.

A change in the rules in 2001 forced them out of the ARC for a year while the team built a new car, but the pair returned in 2003 with a brand new car and finished eighth in the championship.

Their successful partnership has not been restricted to the gravel.

They have also tasted success on the bitumen in the Targa Tasmania road race, taking outright victory in 1995 with a Toyota Celica GT-Four and following up with three successive class wins from 1999-2001 in a Lexus IS200.

Coral sees 2004 as an opportunity to build on the lessons of last year.

"We were really starting from scratch last year and it was always going to be a long, hard road. This year, with 12 months development under our belt, we’ll be looking to be competitive right off the mark."

This year brings an additional challenge for Coral, who is also responsible for the year-round co-ordination of the rally team’s complex logistics.

With the team expanding to a three-car operation, she is looking forward to challenges in and out of competition.

Well-organised, methodical and a stickler for accuracy, she will be a central figure in the success of the team this year.

“A three car team will definitely bring with it challenges, but there are also a number of positives. We’ve got two new drivers who are really committed and very competitive, so I think we’ll drive each other on to bigger and better things.”

While she is wary of making predictions for TTR, she is single-minded in her focus.

“Ultimately, the goal of any team is to win the championship. But initially we want to be consistently competitive and on the podium,” she says.


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Career highlight?

Both: Winning Rally of Melbourne 2003

Career ambition?

Simon: Compete in Europe in WRC car.

Sue: Just to do one event in a WRC car.

2004 ambition?

Both: To win ARC.

Fav rally?

Simon: Rally Queensland.

Sue: Rally Melbourne.

Most daunting stage?

Simon: Watagan Rd, NSW ARC.

Sue: Mineshaft - Rally Canberra.

Big break?

Both: Able to compete in VW Golf Kit car in the Asia Pacific Championship.

Most respected/feared competitor?

Both: Ed Ordynski/Neal Bates.

Scariest Rally Moment?

Simon: Driving on three wheels & no brakes in Rally SA 2002.

Sue: Loss of brakes after Blue Gum Knob Spectator point in Tassie 1999 (just after Stuart Reid's accident).


Scariest non rally moment?

Simon: When Jackson (our 9 year old son) fell down a flight of stairs.

Sue: When Eden (our 6 year old daughter) had a bad asthma attack and had to be rushed to hospital.

Pet hate on road?

Simon: People who don't indicate.

Sue: People who drive slowly in the right-hand lane.


What scares you?

Simon: Going bald.

Sue: Moths.

What annoys you?

Simon: People who repeat conversations over and over.

Sue: The sun in my eyes.

What are you listening to?

Simon: Nickleback/Counting Crows.

Sue: Dido/Live.

What are you reading?

Simon: Scarecrow - Mathew Riley.
Sue: The Bride Stripped Bare – Anonymous.

If you weren’t rally drivers you would be?

Simon: A footballer.

Sue: A full time football supporter (GO PIES!!!).

Your dream jobs?

Simon: Stunt driver.

Sue: Doing it!

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Simon and Sue Evans are the public favourites of Australian rallying and the likeable larrikins have also established themselves as one of the fastest crews in the country.
After struggling financially to get their private entry on the road in recent years, the husband and wife team finally get their chance to concentrate on just competing in 2004 after signing for Toyota Team Racing.

Simon and Sue, who were born just three days apart, were high school sweethearts in Pakenham just beyond the Melbourne suburban fringe and married in 1995 at the age of 23. They had become friends through having adjoining lockers at school – although Sue says she hated him at first because he always dropped things on her head. They also had a mutual background in motorsport.

Sue’s father raced speedway and Simon’s father was into rallying, so it was no surprise that the two 19 year-olds ventured into the sport in 1991 – both as drivers initially. Sue, however, crashed her Datsun on her very first event and, as Simon showed an ability honed from driving since the age of eight, decided to sit back and support her man from the sidelines.

Simon progressed rapidly through club level to the state championship and in 1995 stepped up to the ARC in the newly created Corolla Cup, created by Toyota to give young drivers a chance to shine in identical equipment.

Simon was almost unbeatable in the one-make series, totally dominating the first two seasons. Toyota rewarded him with a drive in a Group A Celica GT Four in the Rally of Canberra prepared by Neal Bates Motorsport, which started a lasting friendship with Neal Bates and Coral Taylor.

Sue became Simon’s co-driver in 1999 and – despite a fraught start when Sue was rendered speechless for the first four stages of their first event together – they enjoyed a giant-killing couple of seasons with an F2 VW Golf, winning their class in the 1999 ARC and the 2000 Asia-Pacific Championship.

With the loss of factory support for 2001, Simon’s father, Peter, stepped in and provided the first of a series of Impreza WRXs that they ran privately, but always very quickly. The Evans often topped the stage times, but bad luck prevented them from winning an ARC round until last year’s emotional NGK Rally of Melbourne – where they climbed the podium to wild acclaim from the home fans.

After going through financial torture to keep competing, including selling the family home and Sue’s car in recent years, the Evans are looking forward to competing without the extra strain this year and spending more time with their children, son Jackson, nine, and six-year-old daughter Eden.


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Career Highlight?

Joining the TTR Team this year.

Career Ambition?

To win an ARC.

2004 Ambition?

Consistency. I’d like to finish a couple of events in the Top 5 and earn manufacturers points.

Favourite rally?

Either the rally of Melbourne or Canberra – love the roads.

Most daunting stage?

The De Bortoli stage at Rally of Melbourne and the super special in Canberra.

When did you get your big break?

This year with Toyota. Although being able to compete and get some good results as a privateer probably played a big part.

Most feared/respected competitor?

Simon Evans/Neal Bates.

Scariest rally moment?

The second rally I ever did. It was a club rally in Termeil and I rolled it several times then hit a tree.


Scariest moment?

Water ski racing – 100mph on a single ski.

Favourite drive (non-rally)?

Bega Valley shire roads.

Pet hate on the road?

Slow drivers.


What scares you?

I wouldn’t ever skydive.

What annoys you?

Arrogant people.

What are you listening to?

Three Doors Down.

What are you reading?

Auto Action.

If you weren’t a rally driver, you would have been?

Machine operator or landscaper.

Your dream job (other than rally) would be?

Professional water skier at Seaworld.

Other passion?

Obviously water skiing, but Go-Karts as well.

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Sporting glory is nothing new for Toyota Team Racing’s new 25 year-old recruit, Ben Barker, a former champion water-skier.
Barker won the NSW and Australian Speed Skiing Championships and was looking towards international honours before another high-speed passion ended his career – he broke his leg in a motorbike accident.

He turned his competitive spirit to a growing passion for rallying, having been inspired as a teenager by the likes of Neal Bates while working as a volunteer control official on the local Bega Valley Rally, then a round of the ARC.

Ben had been taught the basics of car control by an uncle who was involved in motor sport and even bought a Datsun 1600 at the age of 16, but his first proper rally car was a 10 year-old Galant he found rotting in a hay shed. Ben and good mate Chris Shore, who would be co-driver, rebuilt the old car and did well enough to move rapidly through the ranks.

The pair came to the notice of Bates, who offered advice and became something of a mentor. Moving up to a Group N Lancer Evo 3, Barker started making a name for himself in state and then ARC rounds by beating factory drivers on some of the stages.

With the creation of Toyota Team Racing at the beginning of 2003, Barker was signed on as test driver, providing him with valuable experience developing the new works Corolla Sportivos. Shore also joined TTR as a mechanic.

Expanding the team to three cars this year has given Ben the chance to contest the full Australian Rally Championship program alongside two awesome benchmarks in teammates Neal Bates and Simon Evans.

Ben's co-driver will be Damien Long.

"Neal Bates has been my inspiration and mentor," Barker says. “It really is a dream come true to be lining up alongside Neal and Simon Evans, and I guess a reward for a lot of determination.”


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Career Highlight?

Winning the Australian Privateers Championship in 1998.

Career Ambition?

To win the ARC outright.

2004 Ambition?

Top 5 in ARC.

Favourite rally?

Western Australia. Excellent organisation and good roads.

Most daunting stage?

Queensland is pretty tricky at times.

When did you get your big break?

In 1997 when I got a drive with the Kia factory team in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Most feared/respected competitor?

Simon Evans/Ed Ordynski.

Scariest rally moment?

Rally Australia in 1994 – we went head-on into a tree at 120km/h at Langley Park.


Scariest moment:

On a Qantas plane trying to land in Adelaide in the middle of a dust storm. The pilot aborted the landing five times.

Favourite drive (non-rally)?

The Ocean Road in Victoria.

Pet hate on the road?

Red light runners in Sydney. There seem to be more and more of them lately.


What scares you?

Snakes, heights, the open ocean.

What annoys you?

Lack of common courtesy in people.

What are you listening to?


What are you reading?

Pirelli World Rally Annual.

If you weren’t a rally driver, you would have been a?

Tennis player.

My dream job (other than rally) would be?

Major Lotto winner.

Other passion?

My Family. I’ve got an 18-month-old boy.

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Damien Long is one of Australia’s most successful rally co-drivers, with a string of local and international victories to his credit.
Last year, Damien joined Toyota Team Racing as co-driver for Rick Bates when it expanded to two cars and he impressed the team with his professional approach and ever-cheerful demeanour during a very challenging season. This year he forms a new partnership with young Ben Barker.

Thirty-four-year-old Long from Epping in Sydney has contested 127 rallies, including 10 World Championship and 14 Asia Pacific Championship events.

Since he began rallying at the age of just 14, Long has won the Korean Rally Championship (1999), the New South Wales Rally Championship (1996) and has three times won his class in the Australian Rally Championship (1991, 1994 and 1998).

Long has considerable factory team experience, having competed with Subaru Rally Team Japan, Kia Motorsport, Hyundai Korea and Daihatsu Australia before joining Toyota Team Racing in 2003.

Damien caught the motorsport bug at the age of eight as he watched the Canberra International Rally with his father, John.

Six years later they started competing together in the family’s ex-highway patrol V8 Commodore and by 1991, after a couple of car upgrades, they were starting to rack up class honours in the NSW and Australian Rally Championships. For the next decade they were a consistent force in local rallying, apart from a year when John was laid off after suffering the bends while scuba diving.

With John out of action, Damien was snapped up by the Daihatsu team as co-driver for Brett Middleton and together they won the 1994 Australian Formula Two Rally Championship.

Damien successfully reunited with John to win the 1996 NSW Rally Championship, but his co-driving abilities were also eagerly sought by a number of Japanese and Korean factory teams competing in the Asia-Pacific region. He contested international rallies with some success in China, New Zealand, Korea, Thailand and Australia, winning the 1999 Korean title.

As well as being his father’s regular co-driver, Damien has also worked with him since 1988 in the family business, Premier Pools, where he is now the financial controller. He is married and has a baby son.


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Toyota is taking a leading position in the development of young racing drivers, both locally and internationally.
A number of Australian drivers around the world have benefited from Toyota’s youth policy.

Toyota Australia has recently signed two young drivers for its 2004 program.

Ben Barker, 25, will drive a third Toyota Team Racing Corolla Sportivo in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship alongside established stars Neal Bates and Simon Evans.

TTR will also tackle the race circuits this year, with 23 year-old Leanne Ferrier driving a Corolla Sportivo in the Australian Production Car Championship.

Internationally, Ryan Briscoe and James Courtney have benefited from Toyota support and last year claimed the European and Japanese F3 Championships respectively.

Briscoe, 22, is the first graduate of the Toyota Drivers Academy.

He was the first beneficiary of the scheme back in 2001, when he was signed by Panasonic Toyota Racing team manager Ange Pasquali straight out of karts and won the Italian Formula Renault Championship.

The Sydneysider has since tested extensively with the Toyota F1 team and was signed on this year as a full-time test driver.

TDA’s next wave of young drivers will be in action in Europe this season.

Frenchman Franck Perera, Japanese Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Brazilian Roberto Streit will be endeavouring to emulate Briscoe’s effort by winning the European F3 title.

Japanese drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kohei Hirate will be joined by Englishman Ben Clucas in contesting Formula Renault.

Courtney, 23, will retain his links with Toyota by contesting the prestigious All-Japan GT Championship driving a TOM’s Toyota Supra. Ben Barker said that gaining a factory drive was a dream come true.

"It seems like yesterday that I was watching Neal in the Bega Rally and dreaming of becoming a works driver," Barker said.

“Now here I am today lining up alongside the driving force of Neal Bates and Simon Evans!~

Ferrier is the only female driver to have won a round of an Australian championship – taking out a Formula Ford title round at the daunting Phillip Island circuit.

She has been consistently competitive in open competition, including the V8 Supercar category.


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