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2006 Rally of WA



Simon Evans today led the Toyota rally team to a storming first and second overall in the QUIT Forest Rally WA.

TRD team boss Neal Bates finished second behind Evans in the outright results, as well as in Heat 1 and Heat 2.

It is the first overall rally win for Simon and Sue Evans since the WA round in 2004, and the second 1-2 for Toyota in a row.

Today's Round 2 result reverses the trend from Round 1 where Bates led home Evans.

It was just about the perfect rally for Evans, the Victorian setting stunning stage times and winning 10 stages out of the event's 19.

"This is awesome," he said.

"The car was fantastic, and we could not have done it without our Michelin tyres - they made it so easy for me this weekend.

"I was surprised that by just dialling it back a little bit, you can actually go faster - I learnt that from Neal.

"I'm already looking forward to the next rally."

Heat 2 saw a thrilling battle between Bates and Subaru's Dean Herridge, where the Toyota driver originally led by 4.2s, before being caught and passed.

Bates then launched a stunning attack on the afternoon's stages, which saw him overturn a 0.2s gap and open up a 20.2s advantage over Herridge, who finished fourth for the day behind Scott Pedder in third.

The team boss was thrilled with the team's second straight 1-2.

"This is a dream weekend for us," said Bates.

"For me personally I am very pleased to be in this position in WA - I wouldn't regard this as my best event.

"Simon drove a superb rally this weekend and he thoroughly deserves the victory - we had the best cars for the job, the best tyres for the job and the best drivers for the job."

Dean Herridge finished third in the rally's overall results, with the Subaru of Darren Windus coming in fourth ahead of privateer Toyota driver, Stewart Reid.

The NEC Computers Australian Rally Championship standings see Evans on top with 73 points, with Bates in second place on 68 points.

The championship now heads to Queensland in June for Round 3 of the championship.

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Toyota's Simon Evans has continued to build the gap over his rivals in the QUIT Forest Rally WA after two more stages in the forest.

After re-runs of the Healthway and Brockman stages, the flamboyant Victorian has established a 17.6s lead over his rivals.

TRD team boss Neal Bates has set some quick times and came under increasing pressure from Subaru's Dean Herridge, who now leads Bates in the race for second place by 0.2s.

The Mitsubishi of Scott Pedder retains fourth place ahead of Darren Windus' Subaru.

Evans has been thrilled with his Corolla's performance, having won every stage of today's action to date.

"I have just been driving to a plan, and it has worked perfectly so far," he said.

"This is one of my strong events, but later on in the championship the other guys have strong events.

"I'm just trying to consolidate now and get the points on the board early on."

Bates has a fight on his hands for second place, and will battle with Herridge right down to the wire.

"It's particularly close between us," said Bates.

"He took three seconds off me in Healthway and he'd actually dragged a rock onto the road which probably cost me a couple of seconds.

"I'll be trying to get him and I'm sure he'll be trying just as hard."

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Simon Evans has continued yesterday's trend by overturning team mate Neal Bates' 2.9s advantage established on last night's Super Special Stage.

Evans recorded a 11m20.9s time on the morning's first stage, 1.2s faster than Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder, who re-entered the rally overnight after crashing out of yesterday's heat.

Evans' time was 7.6s faster than Bates and 8.2s faster than Subaru's Dean Herridge.

"Scott was very fast on Brockman, but that stage suits his car - he is fast there every year," said Evans.

"I was very happy to be quicker there."

On the following 10km stage, Evans set a 6m12.6s on the 10km Folly stage, 1.5s ahead of Bates and 1.8s up on Herridge.

As a result, Evans has opened up a 6.2s lead over Bates, with a further 4.2s to Herridge.

Pedder is now 24.4s off the leading time after a problem on the day's second stage.

"I thought some of the boys might pull some time on me on that last stage," said Evans.

"But we were still quickest - I'm happy."

There was some moisture on the morning's first stages, making tyre selection tricky. At the end of the stages, Bates was satisfied with his choice.

"We chose the softest tyre this morning, and I think that was definitely the right choice," said the TRD team boss.

"Over here the roads can sometimes be wet or chewed up, which makes choosing the right tyre a bit more difficult."

Five more stages remain in Heat 2.

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Neal Bates was again the fastest driver around the Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage.

Bates was a picture of perfection on the tarmac of Busselton's Barnard Park, recording two identical stage times of 1m44.1s.

The performance established a 2.9s advantage over team mate Simon Evans heading into Heat 2 of the QUIT Forest Rally WA.

Bates' time was 1.3s faster than anyone else could manage under the lights, with Evans' 1m45s the next best.

The Subarus of Dean Herridge and Darren Windus were third and fourth quickest respectively over the two tarmac stages.

Privateer Corolla driver Stewart Reid was fifth fastest, 8.5s behind Bates' time.

Drivers head back into the forest tomorrow morning, for the remainder of Heat 2.

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Simon Evans won Leg 1 of the QUIT Forest Rally today with a blistering day in the WA forest.

Evans won six of the day's eight stages to record a commanding victory, beating home team mate Neal Bates, who was fastest over the day's final two stages around Nannup Oval.

Despite setting stunning stage times, Evans professed that he was not going at ten tenths.

"I was just concentrating on keeping it really clean," he said.

"Keeping it straight coming out of every corner is hard to do in Perth because the surface is so slippery."

"We've had an absolutely perfect rally so far."

Bates, who leads the NEC Computers Australian Rally Championship after Round 1, was happy with the team performance at the front of the field.

"I don't hide the fact that this isn't my favourite event, but the cars ran perfectly and to finish first and second is incredibly good for the team."

"I wasn't quite happy with the set-up, but we made a minor change that made things a little bit more comfortable this afternoon.

"This is probably Simon's favourite event - he drove exceptionally well today and did a superb job."

Subaru's Dean Herridge kept Bates honest all day, but the TRD team boss was good enough to maintain the Toyota team's 1-2 result by 9.2s.

Darren Windus finished the day fourth, while Chinese newcomer Xu Lang rounded out the top five.

Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder looked likely to play a part at the sharp end of the field, before an accident on the day's second stage put an end to his day.

It was even worse news for fellow Mitsubishi driver Kevin Shaw, who endured a spectacular accident on stage six resulting in his car erupting in flames.

Leg 2 starts tonight with a re-run of the Busselton Super Special Stage, before another day in the WA forest tomorrow.

Evans is looking forward to Leg 2.

"We just want to have a clean run around there tonight, stay in touch with Neal on the tarmac and we'll run our race in the forest tomorrow," said Evans.

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TRD's Simon Evans increased his lead over his opposition in the QUIT Forest Rally after another two stages.

Evans was again the fastest driver over stages five and six to take a 33s lead over Neal Bates heading into the day's second service.

Over the 10km Ellis stage, Evans opened up another five seconds over Subaru's Dean Herridge, and a further nine seconds over Bates.

Bates was closer on the following Healthway stage, with Evans shading his team boss by 3.7s, with Herridge 1.1s slower.

Evans remains the leading driver ahead of Bates, with Herridge 42.2s off the leading time.

Evans was in a buoyant mood ahead of the afternoon's finale to Leg 1.

"I'm just concentrating on driving clean and neat," said Evans.

"The conditions are so slippery out there - I don't feel like I'm taking any risks, but we're driving clean and fast."

Evans acknowledged the balancing act for this afternoon's stages.

"You definitely don't pick up the pace when you've got a lead like this, but you don't slow down too much either because you can lose concentration."

Bates was frustrated by handling problems over stages five and six.

"It's not real easy to drive at the moment and we're not sure why," he said.

"There is still quite a bit of oversteer there - it is no worse than it was before, but it is no better either. We're just trying to dial that out of it at the moment."

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TRD's Simon Evans leads the QUIT Forest Rally WA after today's first two stages.

Evans flew through the forests surrounding Nannup to record the fastest time in stages three and four.

The Victorian was 5.4s ahead of Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder on Brumby (the day's first stage), with team mate Neal Bates just 0.8s further back.

On the rally's fourth stage, Ferndale, Evans blasted a 13m39.4s - some 15.9s ahead of his nearest challenger on the stage, Bates.

It was on Ferndale that the challenge from Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder fell away, after an accident on the 22.75km stage.

After the TRD 1-2 at Busselton's Super Special Stage last night, the morning's first two stages saw Evans open up a 21.1s lead over his team mate.

Dean Herridge sits third, 32.4s off the lead of Evans, with the Mitsubishi of Kevin Shaw and the Subaru of Darren Windus fourth and fifth respectively.

Evans was right at home on the first stages on WA's unique ball bearing surface.

"We're driving to a plan - I wanted to set up a bit of a lead right from the start," he said.

"Those first two stages were quite technical - yesterday everyone was really nervous about them, so I wanted to really knuckle down and put in some good times through there."

Bates continued his recent good form, establishing a 11.3s gap over Herridge, to be the second quickest over Leg 1's first four stages.

"It was really slippery out there this morning, but apart from that it was all good," said Bates.

"There was a bit of oversteer this morning so we are making some changes to the suspension to try and fix that."

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Team TRD began the QUIT Forest Rally in fine form tonight, taking first and second place after two runs at the Busselton Super Special Stage in Western Australia.

In fact, Toyota had the two fastest cars over both stages around Busselton's Barnard Park.

Neal Bates leads the NEC Computers Australian Rally Championship after its first round, and he demonstrated his tarmac prowess with a smooth 1m45s on his first run over the 2.39 kilometre stage.

Bates improved that time slightly on his second pass, lowering the evening's best time to a 1m44.9s performance - giving a total time of 3m30s flat after the rally's first two stages.

Team mate Simon Evans was second fastest in both stages, with times of 1m46s and 1m45s respectively to finish the night's stages exactly one second behind team boss Bates.

Privateer Mitsubishi driver Kevin Shaw was third fastest, 1.2s behind Evans and 0.6s ahead of the Subaru of Dean Herridge. Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder was fifth, 4.9s behind Bates.

The evening's stages continued a number of trends for Bates -his impressive form from Canberra's Capital Rally (which he won), and his dominance of Super Special Stages and sealed roads.

"I like anything on tarmac," he said.

"It's always nice to win stages and any advantage in the ARC these days is worthwhile, so to come out one-two with Simon is a good start to the weekend," said Bates.

Simon Evans was philosophical about the night spent entertaining the Busselton crowd.

"You can't win the rally here, but you can sure lose it," said Evans.

"We're sitting one-two at the moment which is good, but tomorrow I want to make sure that he [Bates] is behind me!"

The drivers hit the forest tomorrow for the remainder of Leg 1.

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Team TRD's Neal Bates picked up where he left off in Round 1 at Canberra during practice for this weekend's QUIT Forest Rally.

Australian Rally Championship leader Bates set the fastest time in practice, 0.8 seconds ahead of team mate Simon Evans.

Mitsubishi driver Kevin Shaw was third fastest ahead of the Subarus of Dean Herridge and Darren Windus.

This morning's practice session was held on the circuit that makes up the Busselton Super Special Stage that kicks off the event tonight.

With his past experience on tarmac rallies, Bates always relishes the opportunity to strut his stuff on sealed roads.

"The Corollas feel very good around there and we should be quick tonight, but I'm sure some of the others will be a lot closer too," he said.

"It's only show time this morning - it's the real game tonight and we'll see how we go then."

Evans was right on the tail of his team boss with a spectacular showing for the Busselton locals.

"In the Corolla you just get out there and have an absolute ball of a time - you can pull the handbrake on whenever you want and the thing's just so easy to control."

Currently sitting first and second in the championship, the Team TRD crew will aim to continue their strong form at tonight's Busselton Super Special Stage before the rally heads to the forests surrounding Nannup.

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