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2006 Rally of Tas



TRD remains first and second after the Safari Rally Tasmania, with Simon Evans and Neal Bates finishing second and third respectively in the overall results.

In today's Heat 2, Evans' focus was firmly on maximising his gain without risking his 16-point lead in the NEC Australian Rally Championship.

"I was probably still driving at between eight and nine tenths for most of the day," said Evans.

"All in all it has been a terrific weekend. The car has proved to be strong and reliable again - which is how you win championships."

At the end of today's running Evans was in second place, 16.7s behind Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder. Combined with his second place in Heat 1, it was enough to claim second overall in the event behind Heat 1 winner Dean Herridge.

In Heat 1, Evans had built a 21.6s lead over the field leading into the heat's final stage before a sharp rock cut the tyre valve causing a flat tyre. It was enough to see the Toyota driver drop to second behind Subaru's Herridge.

After winning six stages in Heat 1, another goal for Evans was to secure the bonus point for most stage wins. By winning three more stages today, he claimed that point.

"Going into those last few stages the team told me I needed one more stage win [for the bonus point] and I picked it up a bit - but it wasn't quite ten tenths."

"It was good that we were in a position to win yesterday - which I didn't expect down here."

With just 2.2s to the third place car of Dean Herridge and five stages remaining today, Neal Bates saw an opportunity to catch the Subaru and demote him to second place overall.

However it did not work out for the TRD boss and he settled for fourth place.

"I'm not quite sure what happened on those last few stages," he said.

"I think I might have been trying a bit too hard - I put everything into it and I was really surprised when I saw what the times were.

"This event doesn't suit us like some others so we've done pretty well this weekend - Simon has extended his lead and I'm still second in the championship, so we're pretty happy with the event."

Simon Evans now leads the NEC ARC on 142 points, ahead of team mate Neal Bates on 124 points. Herridge sits in third place on 116 points ahead of Pedder on 93 points and Darren Windus in fifth on 54 points.

Round 5 of the NEC Australian Rally Championship is in South Australia on August 19-20.

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Simon Evans remains well placed for overall victory after another two stages in the Safari Rally Tasmania.

After a flat tyre in the final stage of Heat 1 saw Evans finish the first day in second place behind Dean Herridge, the Victorian drove a controlled first five stages this morning to be 11.9s behind leader Scott Pedder.

Subaru's Herridge sits third for Heat 2, 13.4s behind Evans, but crucially just 2.2s ahead of Toyota's Neal Bates.

If Herridge maintains third place, he will win the rally. If Bates can overturn the deficit and beat the Subaru to third place for Heat 2, Evans will only have to finish second to win the rally.

Evans is also well-placed to score a bonus point for most stage wins in the event. With five stages left, the TRD driver has seven stage wins, from Herridge's five and Pedder's three.

After the Mitsubishi failed to finish Heat 1, Evans currently leads Pedder in the championship by 53 points, with Bates and Herridge between them.

"Scott is putting on some very good pace at the moment, but I'm very happy with my pace at the moment," said the NEC Australian Rally Championship points leader.

"We're comfortably in second place and we're looking at the championship.

"I've had a good chat with the boys and they don't want me to take risks - I'm just focusing on the championship right now.

"I was talking to Scott earlier and he's taking some big risks and having some big moments in there - we're not having a single moment out there."

Yet again, three times Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates is locked in a dogged battle with Herridge.

"That long Bowling stage [SS15] was a very good stage," said Bates, who was second fastest over the run.

"It was probably the highest grip stage we've had in the rally so far.

"I'm going as hard as I can [to catch Dean] - you've just got to keep pushing and see where you end up."

Five stages remain in the Safari Rally Tasmania.

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Heat 2 of the Safari Rally Tasmania kicked off this morning amidst thick blankets of fog in the forests surrounding Geeveston, while overnight rain had made roads particularly hazardous.

Toyota's Simon Evans began the day in style with the fastest time on SS11, 0.3s ahead of Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder.

Heat 1 winner Dean Herridge was third quickest ahead of TRD team boss Neal Bates in fourth.

On SS12 and SS13 Pedder took the advantage with fastest times, while Evans followed closely behind, just 5.0s down at the first service.

Meanwhile Bates resumed his now traditional battle with Subaru's Dean Herridge, recording the third fastest time on SS12, with Herridge getting his nose back in front on SS13. At the first service, Bates is only 4.8s behind Herridge.

Championship leader Evans was concentrating on his championship lead, despite the attack of Pedder.

"We're just having a good clean run and maintaining a nice speed without taking any risks," he said.

"Scott's having a go and I'd love to chase him, but the smart thing to do is maintain what we're doing - I could push harder but I don't need to.

Bates believed the roads were in reasonable condition considering the overnight rain and the morning's heavy fog and cloud.

"Despite the rain the roads weren't that bad," said Bates. "I had to be careful on that last stage because it was very slippery.

"But the car is really good and the tyres are holding up to the cold temperatures and wet roads nicely."

There are two more stages before the event's final service, before another five stages to the heat's culmination.

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After another two stages in Tasmania, Simon Evans has extended his lead to 19.3s over Dean Herridge.

The Victorian turned the wick up on SS6 and SS7, winning both stages and extending his lead, while team mate Neal Bates took third place away from Subaru driver Darren Windus with two second fastest stage times.

Subaru's Dean Herridge remains in second place as Evans worked hard to extend a bigger gap.

"We just drove with more commitment," said the championship leader. "If you were out there you would have noticed.

"I just want to take it easy on the Storm Hill stage because that's the stage I rolled on last year. I want to build enough of a lead so I can be cautious on that one.

"The car's spot on - I had a flat tyre and I didn't even know before the last service."

Bates says the roads have not improved since the damp conditions of the morning's running.

"We went back over that stage again and probably expected it to be a bit drier, but it wasn't," he said.

"Some of the moisture has actually come to the top. I don't think it was any worse, but it certainly wasn't any better."

Three stages remain in the first heat of Safari Rally Tasmania.

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TRD's Simon Evans was dealt a cruel blow in the final stage of today's heat of the Safari Rally Tasmania.

Just six kilometres from the end of the day's rallying, Evans began to feel something wrong in the front left corner of his Corolla - a sharp rock had cut the tyre valve, causing a leak.

The problem saw the Toyota driver drop nearly 24s to Subaru's Dean Herridge on the last stage. Herridge came through to take the heat win by just 2.2s.

"It was running wide on right hand corners so I knew the front left was going down," said the championship leader.

"It was going down really slowly and it lasted about two kilometres, but it wasn't to be - it totally went flat and we had to limp home for the last five kilometres.

"Second time over those roads and everybody's pulled the rocks out of the gutters - they're spread all over the road.

"We pushed as hard as we could, but as safely as we could to get to the end.

"We knew we had a good buffer to third place and we just had to do what we could to get points for the championship - it's a bit disappointing but I'm happy with the result overall."

Tasmania's cold and damp conditions were expected to favour the Pirelli runners, but the Michelin-shod Toyotas showed impressive pace with Evans winning six of the day's ten stages.

Team mate Neal Bates continued to increase the margin over the fourth place Subaru of Darren Windus, subsequently claiming third in heat 1.

Bates remained confused about his start to the day.

"Basically I did the best I could and it wasn't quite good enough today," he said.

"The only difference between our cars this morning was that Simon had a full cut tyre and I didn't, which I would not have thought would make a big difference.

"The only way it would have any sort of effect is if it didn't allow enough heat to get into the tyre because when you cut them there is less tread so there is more heat generated.

"A lot will depend on the weather tomorrow, but we'll start with a normal set-up."

Today's result sees Simon Evans increase his lead at the top of the NEC Australian Rally Championship to 16 points over Toyota team boss Bates. Bates' advantage over Herridge has been reduced to eight points.

Heat 2 continues tomorrow in the forests surrounding Geeveston, southwest of Hobart, with teams wary of the possibility of forecast rain.

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NEC Australian Rally Championship leader Simon Evans maintained his lead after another two stages of the Safari Rally in Tasmania.

Subaru's Dean Herridge was fastest in the 740m Geeveston Super Special Stage, 1.2s ahead of the Evans Corolla, which was a further 0.3s ahead of his team mate Neal Bates.

Evans encountered a "moment" on the day's fifth stage, Storm Hill, allowing Herridge to take his second stage win of the heat, and close the gap to 5.0s.

Meanwhile Bates began the task of closing down the gap to the third place Subaru of Darren Windus.

He was 0.6s faster on SS4 and 3.5s faster on SS5 to narrow the gap to the final podium position to just 1.5s.

Evans' charge was briefly halted with a harmless spin in front of a spectator point during SS5.

"I think I reefed the handbrake on a little bit late for the hairpin," said Evans

"I did a half-spin and dropped it into the gutter.

"I probably only lost three or four seconds, but otherwise the car is working incredibly well."

Bates was focusing on the job of chasing down Windus, despite the difficult conditions out on stage.

"That [SS5] was the most slippery stage we've had today," he said. "It's a different surface and it doesn't get sunlight.

"Otherwise, the car is running nicely and we're trying to chase down Darren [Windus]."

Rally crews embark on another two stages before the day's final service this afternoon.

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Toyota driver Simon Evans has established a lead over the competition after the first three stages in the Safari Rally Tasmania.

Evans blasted out of the blocks to be fastest in all of the morning's stages and set up a 9.6s lead over Subaru's Dean Herridge at the day's first service.

Team mate Neal Bates currently sits in fourth place after going with a different tyre to Evans in the morning stages.

Subaru privateer Darren Windus sits third at the first service, while Mitsubishi's Scott Pedder set the second fastest time in SS1, before a hole in his fuel tank saw him retire from the heat.

Evans was encouraged by the morning's running.

"The roads are quite slippery in spots but the car feels really good," he said. "It's doing everything I want it to do.

"You get to the slippery patches and the car is just really loose, but it's not ugly at all - I'm just trying to keep it neat and win the rally."

Bates ran a different tyre cut to his team mate in the first group of stages, but asked for an extra cut in the Michelin tyres at service.

Despite the damp conditions, the TRD drivers are happy with the performance of the Michelin's.

"The roads are probably better than what we expected after recce," he said. "We're just putting an extra cut in the tyres for the next stages, but the car is running well so far."

There are two more stages before the next service interval, including the Geeveston Super Special Stage.

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The TRD rally team has completed preparations ahead of this weekends Safari Rally Tasmania, round 4 of the NEC Australian Rally Championship.

Both Neal Bates and Simon Evans completed to cautious runs on the Geeveston Super Special Stage in unofficial practice for the weekend's action.

Most in the ARC paddock expect that Pirelli-shod cars will have an advantage in the colder, wetter climate over the Michelin-shod Toyotas - Bates believes that may not necessarily be the case.

"Tyres are obviously important in every rally," he said. "This rally is going to be slippery and Michelin has some very good tyres for the weekend - I think we should have the right tyres for the job."

"It's going to be a pretty tough rally - there's going to be some grippy bits and some slippery bits so it'll be hard for everyone."

"Obviously it's been an incredibly good season for us so far. Simon and Sue have done an exceptionally good job so they deserve to be there. If they keep doing that they'll win the championship - but if they don't I'll be there to give them a bit of a hurry up."

The championship-leading Evans combination has been in devastating form so far this season, finishing second in round 1 at Canberra, before emerging from both Western Australia and Queensland victorious.

"This is one event that I've always really enjoyed," said Simon. "I don't really know why I haven't had a good result here - maybe I do a little bit of overdriving because the roads are a bit wider than normal."

"It's definitely tricky - there are some slippery corners. I'm looking forward to it because where it's grippy it's seriously grippy so it'll be really quick, but then just over the crest there's a slippery corner.

"For this event I've got safety notes because I've put a lot of cautions in there to make sure we get to the end."

The Safari Rally Tasmania kicks off with an official starting ceremony tonight in Hobart before the action gets underway in the forests surrounding Geeveston, south-west of Hobart, on Saturday and Sunday.

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