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The 2007 Rally of Canberra will see the return of night rallying to the NEC Australian Rally Championship, with competitors heading out into the forest following a ceremonial start at Garema Place in the city on Friday night.
 
Rally of Canberra combines round three of the NEC ARC and round three of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.  The two championships will run side by side in and around the nation’s capital from 1 – 3 June.  
 
For the first time in ten years the NEC ARC cars will race with their lights on through a 10.33km stage in the Bluetts plantation.  Free entry to the Bluetts’ spectator park will add to the excitement of the night, allowing spectators a great vantage point as the cars weave their way through the night time stage.
 
Toyota Racing Development yesterday completed their pre-event testing session at Murray’s Corner, adding some more miles to Neal Bates' brand new Super 2000 Corolla.
 
“The new car ran really well and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes in the actual event,” said Bates. “I’ve always loved Rally of Canberra, these are the roads I grew up on and it’s always nice to come back and see all the local support.”
 
TRD team-mate, Simon Evans, has had a good lead up to the event, and is pumped to have the chance to get out in the forest to compete and continue his winning streak.
 
Pirtek Ford Rally Team were also out in the forest yesterday, completing a solid day of testing, and a major shakedown of new components added to the two Super 2000 Fiesta’s since round two.  
 
Sway bars, hand brakes and Narva lighting systems were all given the thumbs up with both drivers pleased with the outcome of the day.
 
"It was an excellent way to start our week in Canberra," said Michael Guest. “Not only did we fully evaluate all the changes on the cars, but we also improved the set-up throughout the day.”
 
NEC ARC leading Privateer, Dean Herridge, has entered the international component of Rally of Canberra and will be pitting himself against international as well as national competitors.
 
“We’ve got a car that is eligible to compete and Rally of Canberra provides a great opportunity to test our skills in the APRC for little extra cost,” explained Herridge.  
 
“I’m really looking forward to coming up against international drivers such Cody Crocker and Katsuhiko Taguchi,” said Herridge.
 
A host of top NEC ARC privateers will debut new cars at this weekends rally
.  Eli Evans and John Murray Jnr will take to the forest in new Subaru WRX STi’s, while David Hills and Spencer Lowndes make their return to the NEC ARC in new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX’s.

Will Orders will be out for his first overall podium finish of the 2007 NEC ARC series and admits that consistency will be the defining element separating teams at the end of the rally.  
 
“It’s safe to say that the Rally of Canberra will play a big part in the overall Championship scheme, and although its tough on machinery, with the Championship being so tight there is no room for playing it safe, as you just have to go as hard and fast as you can at each stage.”
 
The ceremonial start at Garema Place on Friday night will provide fans with an excellent opportunity to come out and support the teams and see rallying up close and personal. International and national cars will be on display from 3:30pm and drivers will be attending autograph sessions between 4:30 and 5:30.
 
The first car will be leaving Garema Place before six, and will head straight out to Bluetts Forest to start the rally.  
 
Across the weekend, spectators can head out to forests surrounding the city centre and take in the rally action from iconic stages such as the Mineshaft.
 
“Rally of Canberra is a great rally as spectators get to see experienced drivers from both the national and international championships,” said Rally of Canberra Event Manager, Jenny Boyd.
 
“I’m encouraging all fans to head to Garema Place or into the Bluetts Plantation and enjoy the Rally of Canberra experience,” said Boyd.
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