Bates extends ARC lead with Tassie tarmac victory
- 5th October 2008, 6:30pm
Driving a TRD Corolla S2000, Bates had to fight hard for his victory. He trailed privateer Spencer Lowndes for much of the day, only reeling in the Mitsubishi driver on the penultimate stage.
Then, when Lowndes crashed out of the event on the last test of the day, it gave Bates and co-driver, Coral Taylor, their second Heat win for the weekend. After a dominant season their lead in the series is out to a massive 113 points.
After a weekend where he struggled on the wet tarmac roads, Toyota’s Simon Evans came through to finish runner-up in Heat 2 and take second place overall in the ARC competition.
Glen and Matt Raymond completed a great weekend for Toyota. Driving an ex-Neal Bates Toyota Corolla Group N (P), they were the fourth car across the line today, securing them third place in the ARC competition this weekend along with Brenton Kaitler in his Lancer Evo 6.
Local Burnie driver, Craig Brooks, was third in Heat Two, putting in the drive of his life today, moving from fifth to third on the final stage of the day.
Sunday’s Heat, which featured five stages covering 88 competitive kilometres, started in wet and windy conditions, and Lowndes made the initial break, building a lead over Bates and Raymond.
“We came into the event not really expecting to be competitive, so when we were fastest on the first two stages today, the game changed somewhat,” Lowndes said early in the day.
“We have only two service crew members and eight wheel rims for this event, so each service has been a mad rush to get things done and to have wheels and tyres changed for the next group of stages.”
However, his dream run ended prematurely. His car left the road and hit a tree head-on, badly damaging the Mitsubishi, and he’s been left licking his wounds ahead of the final event in the championship, at Coffs Harbour next month.
Bates paid tribute to Lowndes early in the day, admitting that the Mitsubishi man had just done a better job, but he the Toyota team boss showed the experience of a three-time Australian Rally Champion to take victory.
“We had to push incredibly hard. We had a small alternator problem this morning, but we managed to fix that,” Bates said.
“I said I wouldn't start thinking about the championship, but it is getting pretty hard not to now.”
Brooks, although not registered for ARC points, were thrilled with his podium placing.
“We came into the rally with a plan to get into the top five and challenge some of the privateers, and we’ve managed to do that,” he said. “This was only my second event on pacenotes, but it’s been a fantastic day for us.”
The Pirtek Les Walkden Rallying Subaru Impreza WRX of Michael Guest had another day to forget, although managed to salvage sixth place.
“We’ve had a centre differential problem all day, which was making the car understeer badly,” Guest explained.
“In what is the team’s home event, we were hoping for a podium result, but luck certainly hasn’t gone our way.”
The ARC concludes on the NSW central coast with the Coffs Coast Rally on November 15 and 16.
Final Results – Tasmanian ARC round
1. Neal Bates/Coral Taylor, Toyota TRD Corolla S2000, 81 points
2. Simon Evans/Sue Evans, Toyota TRD Corolla S2000, 64 points
=3. Glen Raymond/Matt Raymond, Toyota Sportivo, 52 points
=3 Brenton Kaitler/John Allen, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, +2:30.9
Heat 2 Results – ARC
1. N Bates/C Taylor, Toyota TRD Corolla S2000, 47mins 22.1secs
2. S Evans/S Evans, Toyota TRD Corolla S2000, +31.9 secs (diff to leader)
3. C Brooks/D Willson, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:12.3
4. G Raymond/M Raymond, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +1:20.5
5. Kaitler/J Allen, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, +1:31.0
6. M Guest/D Green, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:32.6
7. D Dunlop/J Dunlop, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, 5:03.7
8. M Taylor/S Stevens, Mitsubishi Mirage RS, +5:45.4
9. M Butcher/L Read White, Subaru Impreza WRX, +6:51.4
10. B Cullen/M Cullen, Toyota Levin, +8:3194
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