Neal Bates has taken his sixth Quit Forest Rally title, in Nannup, Western Australia, and claimed the first round win of the 2008 Australian Rally Championship.  
 
Bates, driving a Super 2000 Corolla, finished second in Heat One and first in Heat Two, handing him the win, ahead of Eli Evans and Alex Stone.
 
“I’m absolutely delighted, obviously very disappointed for Simon and Sue (TRD’s Simon and Sue Evans), they drove exceptionally well and deserved to win, but when they stopped we were very happy to pick up the pieces,” Bates said.
 
“The team deserve all the accolades here, these cars are just absolutely fantastic and everyone worked incredibly hard in the off-season and in the months leading up to this event, and they produced a car that’s just done it,” he continued.
 
While the win by Bates will be celebrated by the TRD team, it marked the end of a 14 heat Australian Rally Championship winning streak by his team mate and defending series champion, Simon Evans.
 
Evans, who took the outright honours in Heat One, succumbed to an engine failure on SS17, dropping him out of contention for the rally win for the first time since 2006.
 
“It’s disappointing, but I’m happy,” said Simon. “Our dream run ended when I was in the lead and we were doing everything right, so if you’re ever going to DNF this is the way to do it.”
 
Eli Evans has been rewarded for the work he put in over the off season, with his new approach to rallying clear across the weekend.  
 
“I’m very happy. We had a bad start yesterday morning so to be second here on the podium is a huge surprise for us, but we’ve worked hard and it feels like we’ve deserved it… (going away with a big bag of points),” he said.  
 
“We didn’t get the best result here last year, so we came here with the aim to get through it and get some kilometres up and it’s all just fallen to plan.”
 
Third outright for the rally was a great result for local West Australian driver, Alex Stone, who admitted even he was surprised to be standing on the podium.
 
“I’m very surprised, we didn’t want to look at the results today in case we screwed up, so we’ve just kept plugging away and driving,” said Stone.
 
While Stone stood atop the Quit Forest Rally podium, Justin Dowel finished third outright for the rally in terms of Championship points, with Stone not registered for the ARC.

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