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Four-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates set the fastest time overall in the Adelaide Rally at the weekend, achieving the feat in his Celica GT-Four ST205, which was entered in the Modern Classic category. Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor outpaced all 300 rivals including those in the Classic section and Category S, to be the quickest competitor over the three-day event's 31 stages. It was the first time Bates and Taylor had competed in the turbocharged Celica since winning the national rally championship and Targa Tasmania in 1995, and their first appearance in the Adelaide event. They won the Modern Classic category by 46 seconds, against a 2000 year model car, claiming 24 of the 31 stages. The event was run in six categories, with some cars as recent as 2010 models, but with no overall classification. Bates and Taylor scored a hat-trick of Australian rally championships in the Celica in 1993-94-95, and won another ARC title in 2008 in a Corolla S2000. Bates sold the Celica GT-Four in 1997, but has since re-repurchased and rebuilt it.
For the Adelaide event, Bates formed a three-car Toyota team with Neal Bates Motorsport workshop manager Darryl Bush in his ex-Toyota Team Europe 1998 Corolla WRC car and Stuart Bowes in a 1996 ex-TTE Celica GT-Four ST205.
Bates said he was delighted with his Celica's performance, handling and braking during the competitive stages and 600-700km of liaisons between stages. "I really enjoyed being back driving the car, with Coral," he said. "It was a great way to end the year and amazing to win the Modern category and to be the fastest car overall." The event included stages in the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, McLaren Vale and Murray Mallee regions, as well as Collingrove Hillclimb, the Mallala race circuit and the final stage on the Victoria Park street circuit in Adelaide.
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