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2005 Rally Of Queensland



Toyota Team Racing is confident of a strong performance in the second round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship in Queensland this weekend (4-5 June).
The team completed a trouble-free testing session in the forests around Imbil yesterday and team boss Neal Bates predicts the Corollas will be hard to beat, provided the roads stay dry.

"I think we’ve shown in the first two rallies of the season that we can match it with Subaru, given the right road conditions. They had an advantage in the wet over in WA, but I think Queensland should suit the Corollas," he said.

TTR conducted pre-season testing in Queensland this year and those tests provided a solid foundation for setting the cars up this week.

“We were able to establish a good set up very early on and then just work on tweaking settings to find the right balance for the weekend,” he said. Bates, who finished fifth in Queensland last year, predicts it will again be a car-breaker.

“It’s certainly the roughest event in the championship with very harsh road surfaces and quite boney,” said Bates. Bates’ team-mate Simon Evans overcame a number of set-backs in WA to finish fourth and the hard-charging Victorian is keen for a big points haul this weekend on the Sunshine Coast.

Evans believes the Corollas will excel on the notoriously tough Queensland roads.

“This is my absolute favourite event based purely on the roads, which are very challenging to drive fast because they are narrow, rough and lined with trees,” said Evans.

“They are hard to read because you can’t see the next corner, so communication with your co-driver is vital. You are totally reliant on the pace notes. It’s an event where the brave always do well.

“Last year we were hampered by not having a handbrake and still finished third, so we should do well this year.

“The Corolla has been just fantastic this year. We’ve still got a bit of work to do when it’s slippery, but we’re right on the money when it’s dry, so hopefully it will be fine in Queensland.”

There is a real mood of optimism at TTR as the team’s Corollas are well suited to the Queensland roads, which are rough but offer very good traction.

“We should do very well up there because the roads are quite grippy,” said TTR team manager Darryl Bush.

“We went well in this event last year and we know the cars are even better compared with where we were at last year, so we’re really quite confident about this rally.”

Event headquarters, as well as the start and finish, will be in Caloundra and the high-speed sections of forestry roads are located near the Mary Valley township of Imbil.

The rally attracted around 20,000 spectators last year and will be held over two heats covering a total of 687 kilometres, including 223km of competitive driving on the 17 special stages.

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Toyota Team Racing’s Simon Evans set the fastest time in this morning’s shakedown session for the Coates Rally of Queensland.

The Victorian set a time of 43 seconds over the one kilometre test course at Caloundra’s Duck Hole Creek Reserve, just shading Subaru’s Dean Herridge.

TTR team mate Neal Bates was equal 3rd fastest with Subaru’s Juha Kangas and Mitsubishi privateer John Mitchell, while TTR’s 3rd driver Ben Barker was equal 6th.

Evans was upbeat after the morning session.

"Obviously these times don’t mean all that much in the context of the rally, but the car felt great this morning," he said.

Evans said the rally would be extremely tough.

“I think whoever keeps it clean and neat will come out on top, because the roads are pretty narrow in places,” he said.

Bates predicted the rally could become a war of attrition.

“The roads up here this year are about as rough as they get in the ARC, so whoever ends up on the podium on Sunday will have well and truly earned it,” he said.

He’s confident the team will be on the pace this weekend.

“We had a strong test on Tuesday and everything is looking good for the weekend,” he said,

The rally kicks off with a ceremonial start at Kings Beach tonight, with the first of the competitive stages beginning in the forests around Imbil tomorrow morning.


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A freak fault in the TTR Corollas camshaft timing system has derailed TTR’s challenge at the Rally of Queensland.

The timing problem developed in the two leading Corollas prior to the first stage of the day, draining the cars of power.

The culprit was a steep incline prior at the start that forced the cars to slip back and put pressure on their timing belts, which jumped a tooth on the crankshaft and put the cars’ ignition timing out of sequence.

The result was that Simon Evans and Neal Bates were forced to complete the first two stage well down on power, with Evans finishing 9th and Bates 13th.

Rookie Ben Barker was left to fly the flag.

Despite a spin and a high speed off road-excursion, Barker managed to complete the two stages in 4th position, just 4.1sec behind Subaru’s Juha Kangas.

Bates’ car did not make it out of service, after the team boss told his crew to concentrate on fixing Evans’ car.

The crew managed a partial fix, but Evans was late out of service and incurred time penalties.

The Victorian will now have to nurse the car through the next stages, taking care not to overheat the engine. The crew will attempt a fix at next service, although the odds of a complete solution are long.

Bates has withdrawn from the heat.

The team boss was naturally bitterly disappointed with the result.

"I can’t believe what’s happened. We’ve never experienced anything like this before but it’s obviously very disappointing for the whole team."

Evans was also upset.

“We’ll go back out there but it looks as if we’ll only be making up the numbers today,” he said.

Barker said his main priority was to bring the car home for Toyota.

“The car feels really good. We’re just going to concentrate on keeping it clean,” he said.

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TTR rookie Ben Barker is out of Heat One of the Rally of Queensland after his Corolla developed gearbox problems during stage 5 of the rally.

The withdrawal was a crushing blow for Barker, who was within striking distance of a podium finish.

"I feel absolutely gutted. We were so close to a big result. If we’d been able to go out this afternoon and just be consistent I reckon we could have picked up a bit of time on the leaders.

“Damien and I were both surprised at how good our times had been this morning, given the dramas we had," he said.

“It just hasn’t been a day for the Toyotas today,” he said.

Barker was effectively flying the flag for Toyota team Racing after its lead drivers Simon Evans and Neal Bates were hit by mechanical problems.

Bates was forced to retire and Evans’ Corolla limped through all six of the morning stages with little power to speak of, after the crew was unable to fix a camshaft problem in both cars at first service.

Evans dropped to 10th, 2.37sec behind leader Cody Crocker.

The popular Victorian was philosophical about his morning of frustration.

“At times like this, you’ve just got to laugh and say ‘it happens’. There’s no other option. But it was incredibly frustrating, because the car was slower than our recce cars,” he said.

Evans took the opportunity to check his pace notes for tomorrow’s stages, some of which will be a repeat of today.

Team boss Bates was downcast about the morning’s event.

“It really is just unbelievable,” he said of the freakish problem that struck the Corollas.

“I’ve never come across anything like this before. It’s very, very disappointing for the whole team,” he said.

The one bright spot of the day was a fantastic effort by the service crew, who managed to fix the complicated camshaft timing problem in the second service without incurring any time penalties.

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Selfless leadership from Neal Bates and an inspired charge by Simon Evans allowed Toyota Team Racing to salvage vital points from a disastrous start to the Rally of Queensland today.

Evans blitzed the field in the afternoon stages of today’s heat, setting two fastest times as he climbed from 11th to 4th on the leader board. The result moves him to 3rd place in the Globalstar Australia Rally Championship.

It was an amazing comeback after crankshaft timing problems had severely restricted his Corolla’s power output on the first six stages of the day.

Evans paid tribute to the team and in particular team boss Neal Bates for sacrificing his own rally to keep the Victorian in the fight for points.

"Neal and I had identical problems with our cars, so he elected to pull out so we could keep going while the team worked on his car to find the problem," he said.

“If it wasn’t for Neal thinking about the best result for the team, they wouldn’t have been able to fix my car for the final stages. That was a big call for a driver to make,” he said.

“The boys also did a fantastic job to keep me out there,” he said.

Evans was buoyed by the speed his car showed in the afternoon.

“It puts a smile on your face after a pig of a day,” he said.

But he was also frustrated by the team’s bad luck.

“There was no doubt we had the pace today to challenge for the lead, but it just wasn’t to be. Now we’ll concentrate on getting a podium tomorrow,” he said,

There were mixed emotions for both Bates and Ben Barker after the event.

“Obviously I’m happy to salvage something from today. Simon did a fantastic job out there this afternoon,” he said.

But Bates was left bewildered by a freakish crankshaft timing problem caused by an unlikely series of events.

While they were waiting for the start of the event, both cars slipped backwards on a steep incline, forcing a timing belt to partially unhook itself from the crankshaft, throwing the camshafts out of sync.

“On a personal note, it was an incredibly disappointing day. There’s no doubt the cars have got some speed, but you just can’t fathom that something like that can happen. In all my years of rallying I haven’t seen anything like it,” he said.

Ben Barker was also rueing his bad luck, after being robbed of a likely podium when a broken front driveshaft caused a differential failure.

“I’m pretty shattered because I reckon we could have brought it home in 3rd today, but we’ve just got to put that out of our minds and focus on tomorrow,” he said.

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TTR’s Simon Evans is on a charge in heat 2 of the Rally of Queensland.

After a cautious first stage, the Victorian set fastest time on the second stage to move into 2nd place, just 0.3secs behind Subaru’s Cody Crocker.

Evans team mate Neal Bates is well-placed in 4th, 33.7sec behind Crocker, while Ben Barker had to battled through the first stage with no boost after a pressure sensor hose came loose early in the stage. He lies 10th.

Evans was confident of taking the fight to Crocker in the afternoon stages.

"We made a conscious decision to take it easy in the first stage because it was very tight and if you made a mistake, you could easily have got into big trouble," he said.

“But I turned up the wick in the second stage and that’s the way we’ll go for the rest of the day. We’re going all out for a win,” he said.

Bates said the first stage was quite chopped up and a bit slippery.

“I took it easy and looking back I was probably a little too cautious. I was happier with my second stage, but still couldn’t match it for pace with the guys up front,” he said.

“Both of them are right at the top of their game at the moment,” he said.

Barker was disappointed with his start to the day.

“We were going really well and keeping it nice and tidy then a pressure sensor hose came off after about 7km and we had no boost for the rest of the stage” he said.

“Then on the next stage we lost power steering about 3km in. But the boys will fix it and we’ll go out there and give it another go,” he said.

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TTR’s Simon Evans is locked in a tense battle with Subaru’s Cody Crocker for Heat Two honours in the Rally of Queensland.

The Victorian is just 4.1sec behind Crocker with two stages left in the rally.

Team mate Neal Bates is lying in 4th position, 54sec behind Crocker. The news was not so good for rookie Ben Barker, whose rally ended when he rolled his Corolla on special stage 13.

The remaining stages are a repeat of yesterday’s last two stages, which is good news for Evans, who was comfortably fastest on both stages yesterday.

But the TTR driver believes today’s stages will be much closer.

"You can’t read too much into those times because Cody had the heat in the bag and didn’t need to take any risks. I’m sure that if I do the same times as yesterday, Cody’s going to be right there with me," he said,

Evans has no plans to play second fiddle, though.

“I’m going to turn the wick right up and see what happens,” he said.

Bates lies 19 seconds behind Subaru’s Dean Herridge, but has the distinct disadvantage of not having driven the stages yesterday.

“It’s probably gong to be too big an ask to catch Dean because he’s been over the stages once before. But I’ll give it my best shot,” he said.

Both drivers have switched to a harder compound for the afternoon stages, which are likely to be dry and rough.

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TTR’s Simon Evans has fought back from a horror start to the weekend to finish second in the Rally of Queensland.

The gritty Victorian staged a remarkable recovery to climb back from 11th place on Saturday morning, setting four fastest stages on the way. Evans is now placed 3rd in the Globalstar ARC drivers’ championship, just two points behind Subaru’s Dean Herridge.

Team mate Neal Bates capped off a good Sunday for the team when he grabbed 3rd place in today’s heat, following a last stage accident involving Dean Herridge.

While Herridge’s accident brought good luck for Bates, it had the opposite effect on Evans, who was next on the road and forced to cope with poor visibility in the last third of the stage as he closed on Herridge’s stricken Subaru.

The delay effectively put paid to any chance Evans had of catching Crocker.

But Evans was a happy man after the stage.

"It’s a great result for the team after the start we had. I feel really happy for the boys because they worked so hard to keep me in the rally. I was just glad I could deliver for them today.

“It was looking bleak yesterday morning and I was just about ready to get on a plane and go home. But we hung in there and I’m really happy with what we’ve achieved."

The win was the ideal birthday present for Evans’ son Jackson, who turned 11 this weekend. Both Jackson and his sister Eden were on hand to join in the celebrations at the service park in Imbil.

Team boss Neal Bates was also satisfied with the result, after staging a fightback of his own to finish equal 5th for the weekend following yesterday’s mechanical DNF.

“I’m much happier than I was yesterday, that’s for sure. Simon did a fantastic job out there today.

“I don’t think there’s any dispute that Simon is having to drive his car a lot harder than Cody to get the same times. We’re still handicapped by the lack of an active centre diff, especially on some of the tighter stages here in Queensland where we don’t have an effective handbrake for the hairpins,” he said.

Bates was also pleased with his own performance in the afternoon.

“I’m reasonably happy with my times this afternoon, given the fact that it was my first time through the stage. The times we did were pretty comparable to what the leading guys were doing yesterday,” he said.

“In the end I was close enough to Dean to take advantage of his mistake on the last stage,” he said.

Unfortunately, Ben Barker was the only TTR driver whose luck didn’t improve over the weekend.

He had minor mechanical problems on the first two stages of the morning but then rolled his Corolla on the third stage.

“We went a bit wide into a gully and the car tripped up on a log in the embankment and turned over,” he said.

“Overall, it’s been a weekend to wipe from the memory,” he said.

Rally of Queensland

1. Cody Crocker (Subaru) 41
2. Simon Evans 28*
3. Dean Herridge (Subaru) 28
4. Brad Goldsborough (Subaru) 20
=5. Neal Bates 14
=5. Scott Pedder (Mitsubishi) 14
=5. Jack Monkhouse (Mitsubishi) 14
=5. Steve Glenney (Subaru) 14

Drivers’ Championship Points

1. Cody Crocker (Subaru) 82
2. Dean Herridge (Subaru) 54
3. Simon Evans 52
4. Brad Goldsborough (Subaru) 36
5. Scott Pedder (Mitsubishi) 34
6. Juha Kangas (Subaru) 26
7. Neal Bates 24
11. Ben Barker 9

*Evans 2nd based on accumulated times

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