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2005 Safari Tasmania



Toyota Team Racing heads into Safari Tasmania looking to banish the demons of 2004 and build on the momentum of its stirring comeback in last month’s Rally of Queensland.

TTR returns to the scene of Simon Evans’s much-publicised crash in a buoyant mood, after the team showed great pace on day two in Queensland, with Simon Evans and Neal Bates finishing second and third respectively.

Bates believes a new tyre compound from Michelin may be the key to Toyota climbing one step higher on the podium in Tasmania.

"We have a new, more durable compound for Tasmania and we’re hoping that it will give us an edge over the opposition," he said.

The team recently completed a test session with the new tyres in Bendigo, Victoria, and Bates was encouraged by the performance of the Corollas.

“It was a strong hit-out and we’re looking in pretty good shape for Tasmania,” he said.

Bates believes the Corollas are within striking distance of a round win in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship.

“I think that, given the right conditions and a slice of luck, we’re definitely capable of beating the Subarus,” he said.

The team’s season received a boost recently when the Australian Rally Commission approved three new Variant Option technical upgrades for the TTR Corollas.

The Variant Options are designed to create a more level playing field in the championship.

Although none of the upgrades will be in place for Tasmania, Bates is working towards implementing them progressively through the rest of the season.

The team has been busy developing and testing the main new component – an active centre differential – but Bates says it is too early to risk running an unproven item in the heat of competition.

“This is a brand new component that we have developed locally, and it’s incredibly complex, so it’s going to take a lot of set-up work and endurance testing before we feel comfortable putting it into a rally weekend.”

“Ultimately the centre diff will be better,” he said.

Bates anticipates that one or two of the TTR Corollas would probably have the differential installed for the Toyota Rally of South Australia on August 5-7.

All three cars are expected to use them in the final two rounds of the 2005 season in Melbourne and Bathurst.

TTR is also working on two more new developments approved by ARCom: a ball-jointed lower front suspension mounting and a brake servo spacer that will improve brake pedal feel for the drivers.

In the meantime, Bates believes that suspension and tyre changes implemented since the Rally of Queensland should give the team's chances a boost heading into Tasmania.


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Toyota Team Racing driver Simon Evans is ready to tackle tomorrow’s start of Safari Tasmania after setting a solid fourth-fastest time in this morning’s shakedown session at Baskerville Raceway near Hobart.

The Victorian ace has put aside any misgivings about returning to the scene of his horror crash last year and is determined to climb onto the podium this year.

Evans’ time of 48.44 seconds was only a little over a second slower than Globalstar Australian Rally Championship leader Cody Crocker over two laps of the special dirt track at Baskerville.

Juha Kangas and Dean Herridge set the second and third-fastest times this morning.

TTR junior development driver Ben Barker showed he would be a force to be reckoned with this weekend with some energetic driving that netted him the sixth-fastest time, edging out team boss Neal Bates by just two-hundredths of a second.

Bates – a three-time winner in Tasmania – said that this weekend could be a race of attrition as even a small mistake could end a driver’s event because the roads in the Southern Forests of the Huon Valley south of Hobart are very fast and there are often trees close to the racing line.

Evans, who is third in the championship standings behind Crocker and Herridge, is determined to end the run of bad luck that has afflicted him over the years in the Tasmanian round.

He has often been fast in this event and scored numerous stage wins, but has yet to finish on the podium.

"I’ve never really had a good run down here, even before the accident last year," said Evans, whose championship was derailed last year when he broke his leg.

“But the car feels really good and it’s certainly my aim to have a good clean run and be challenging for victory on Sunday.”


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Toyota Team Racing driver Simon Evans has raced to an early lead at the first service point in Safari Tasmania, the third round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship.

After the first three special stages held in bitterly cold weather, Evans in the TTR Corolla has established a 2.2-second lead over championship leader Cody Crocker with Scott Pedder less than one second further back in third.

"This is the first this year we’ve been leading at the first service, which is a good feeling, but we are really looking at the overall rally situation," said Evans at the Geeveston service park in the Huon Valley.

“The road conditions are very changeable and slippery in spots, but the car feels well balanced and the Michelin tyres are good.”

TTR teammate Ben Barker had a solid morning and is in eighth position overall, but only 15.1 seconds behind fourth-placed Juha Kangas, who won this event last year.

Team boss Neal Bates’ bad luck struck again on the very first stage when an intercooler clamp broke, causing the loss of turbocharger boost.

With a huge loss of power, Bates lost a huge amount of time and, although he was able to fix the problem at the end of the stage, he has dropped down the order and is over a minute behind Evans.

Repairing the intercooler clamp caused Bates to be seven minutes late for the start of the second stage, which will incur a 35-second penalty for the triple Australian rally champion.

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Saturday, 9 July 2005 – Safari Tasmania SS4 – SS6

Simon Evans lost the lead in today’s first heat of Safari Tasmania with a light rollover into a ditch that cost the Toyota Team Racing driver about 30 minutes, dropping him to the tail of the field.

Both Simon and his co-driver, wife Sue Evans, escaped from the upturned car unscathed after is stopped in a ditch.

The TTR Corolla was barely damaged in the slow-speed incident – a broken windscreen the extent of the damage – but it took half an hour to get the car back on its wheels and running again.

Evans rejoined the event at the rear of the field and drove the next two stages cautiously, but still recorded the third-fastest time on SS6 before the team was able to check the car in service park and replace the windscreen.

"I was really surprised when the car went off the road and we were only doing 30 or 40km/h when it tipped into a ditch," said Evans.

“We’re all pushing very hard out there and it just stepped out coming into a slow corner in very slushy conditions, then understereed off into the ditch.

“It’s a real shame because we were leading the event. We just keep handing these easy victories to Cody (Crocker), which is really frustrating.”

With team boss Neal Bates recovering time after breaking an intercooler bracket on the first stage, Ben Barker is now the leading TTR driver in seventh position, one minute and 41.7 seconds behind leader Crocker.

“I’ve been taking it relatively easy and I haven’t really found my groove yet,” said Barker. “We are really lacking grip, so we are changing the springs and tyres for this afternoon’s stages.”

Bates is back in ninth place a further 18.2 seconds back, but expects to drop two places when a penalty is applied for being late to the start of SS2 after replacing the intercooler bracket.

Despite being out of contention, Evans is continuing in the event and will treat the rest of the day as a test session.


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Saturday, 9 July 2005 – Safari Tasmania – End Heat 1

Toyota Team Racing is looking forward to making a fresh start in tomorrow’s Heat Two of the Safari Tasmania after a very trying day in Heat One following some early glory.

All three TTR drivers are keen to restore some team pride after striking trouble today.

Team boss Neal Bates rescued something from the day with a typically fighting eighth place that seemed improbable after he dropped to 24th on the opening special stage when an intercooler bracket broke and had to be replaced by the side of the road.

Simon Evans was leading the event until he ran wide on a corner in SS4 and slid into a ditch, which rolled the Corolla gently onto its roof at slow speed.

Simon and his co-driver, wife Sue, crawled out of the car unharmed, but it took the duo and some willing spectators about half an hour to right the car and get back into the event, by which time they had dropped to the back of the field.

That left junior development driver Ben Barker as TTR’s leading runner, but a solid run up to sixth place ended after SS9 when he was forced to retire with a broken front driveshaft.

Evans displayed his potential – and that of the TTR Corolla – by winning two of this afternoon’s six stages and finishing second in two others.

"Apart from the rollover, I was actually happy with the day," said Evans. “It was just one of those things that happen when you are pushing hard, but it was good to be leading.”

Bates said he was disappointed with losing so much time in the first stage, but pleased to have come back and scored points for Toyota.

“I was certainly trying as hard as I could and the tyres were much better suited to the conditions this afternoon,” said Bates.

“It was gut-wrenching to see Simon upside down by the side of the road, but you have to push really hard to be leading one of these events.”

TTR will have all three cars back in action trying to win Heat Two tomorrow over eight Special Stages in the Huon Valley south-west of Hobart.


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Sunday, 10 July 2005 – Safari Tasmania – Heat 2 (SS13-SS15)

Neal Bates was quickly into gear at the start of Heat Two of the Safari Tasmania this morning, racing to fourth place after the first three special stages in cold, damp conditions.

Toyota Team Racing teammate Simon Evans, however, did not have the start he wanted, snagging a rock on the morning’s opening stage and puncturing a front tyre.

After losing more than 20 seconds to arch-rival Cody Crocker and dropping to 15th place, Evans began a typically aggressive charge back through the field and was back up to 7th place just two stages later, 27.2s behind the leader.

Michelin has added an extra cut in Evans’ tyres for the next stage to give the Victorian extra grip at the rear.

Bates, however, is happy with the balance of his TTR Corolla and has kept the same set-up that worked well on the opening stages.

"I’m very happy with our position. It’s very close out there and we are only 1.4 seconds behind second place (Scott Pedder)," said Bates.

“I’m happier with the roads being used today because they are a bit more metal-based and therefore grippier than the ones we used yesterday.”

Ben Barker, who is running conservatively this weekend, opted for a slightly harder compound Michelin this morning, but has now switched to the same rubber as his teammates and hopes to improve on his 8th place before the end of the day.


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Sunday, 10 July 2005 – Safari Tasmania – Final

Toyota Team Racing is looking forward to a performance boost from a new centre differential for the next round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship after enduring a trying weekend in the third round, Safari Tasmania.

The team believes that the new centre differential, which was recently approved for use, will help put the TTR Corollas back on a level playing field with their rivals for the Toyota Rally of South Australia next month.

"We need to do a lot more testing with the active diff before we really know what it will do, but there’s no question it would have helped in wet conditions like this," said team boss Neal Bates.

“The cars showed very good speed this weekend when it was dry, and Simon did an amazing job to match Cody’s times in the wet, but we are having to push too hard to get the results.

“The active centre diff should certainly help in these conditions and we will definitely have them to use in the next round.”

Evans was delayed by two punctures on the final day, but stormed back to win the two longest special stages and finish fifth in today’s Heat Two.

After rolling out of Heat One yesterday, Evans provisionally finished eighth overall for the weekend.

TTR teammates Bates and Ben Barker finished the round provisionally equal 11th overall, with results pending finalisation after a crash involving privateers Tony Sullens and Ben Atkinson on the final stage.

Championship leader Cody Crocker won the round to extend his points tally to 124, well ahead of his teammate Dean Herridge (70), Scott Pedder (66) and Evans (62).


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