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Teams have descended on the coastal town of Forster on the New South Wales mid-north coast for the Great Lakes Rally, the fifth round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship.  Yesterday the top cars headed out to the CoopernookForest north of Taree for the official pre-event Shakedown, competition was tight and at the end of the session the field was split by only six seconds.

Toyota Racing Development’s Simon Evans will lead the field - which combines NEC ARC, NSW State Championship and Classic cars - into the forest over the weekend, topping the Shakedown with a time of 1 minute and 18 seconds.

“During recce there were some sections of stages that you’d swear you were driving through Queensland, and others that really reminded me of stages I’ve driven a million times in Melbourne,” said Evans. “I definitely like what I saw though; the stages have a bit of everything on offer.”

Evans was joined at the top of the leader board by his TRD team mate Neal Bates and younger bother, Evans Motorsport’s Eli Evans.

Pirtek Rally Team Ford’s Michael Guest signalled his intent for the rally tied in forth with LWR’s Brendan Reeves, S & J Automotive’s Steve Glenney and Access Hardware’s Spencer Lowndes. 

Guest, who lives in the HunterValley is excited to see a rally return to his ‘backyard’ after a year long hiatus.

“The organisers have put together a great package of stages, the roads are quite awesome,” enthused Guest. “The obvious way to describe the roads is high speed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the top cars spend a lot of time above 130-140km/h!”

The Great Lakes Rally officially got underway at Main Beach Forster last night, kicking off a great weekend of rally action.  The competitive stages will be held in the forests surrounding Bulahdelah and Taree with the rally based out of the spectacular service park located on MainBeach.

The super special stages run around the Taree showgrounds on Saturday and Sunday will give fans the opportunity to witness the rally action up close and personal and will showcase some exciting driving as will the spectator points out in the forest. 

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