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Paul Batten Racing have begun their 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship season in the best possible fashion, walking away with maximum points in the Privateers Rally Challenge and a class win in P5.
 
Held in the forests around Canberra, the Rally of Canberra started for Paul Batten and Craig Jones on the Thursday where reconnaissance took place, with Greg, Mike and the students from Kangan Batman Tafe arriving in Canberra with the team’s 2006 Subaru WRX STI a little later.
 
The glitz and glamour of the opening ceremony held in the city centre’s shopping precinct allowed teams to talk about the weekend ahead and also allowed prime viewing coverage for the team’s sponsors. “Our aim was to finish the event and learn as much as we could in the process! It was a steep learning curve this weekend as the last time we competed in the car was eight months ago, and quite a lot had changed since then. We planned to take our usual approach – not competing with other stage times, but racing our own event,” Batten said.
 
Friday night was unfamiliar territory for many crews where a full night stage took place. Early Saturday morning saw the students from Kangan service the car for the stages ahead. Throughout the day Paul and Craig climbed up the leader board, constantly setting stage times inside the top twelve. On stage six a high speed off-road excursion cost the team twenty seconds in service with the replacement of a control arm. “With the major upgrades to the car during the off season, both Paul and I were amazed with the increased pace,” added Jones.
 
At the conclusion of the first heat the team where amazed to be have finished the heat in a remarkable eighth position.
 
Sunday saw a repeat of the Mineshaft and Oakey Creek stages along with several fast flowing stages in the Kowen forests. Another smooth and consistent day for Paul and Craig saw them finish in ninth place and seventh outright for the weekend. “It’s great to be able to go away from Canberra with maximum points in the Rally Challenge and we can’t wait to hit the roads in SA. We learnt so much in Canberra and hopefully we can take that information and use it to our benefit for the remainder of the season,” Craig said.
 
The next event for Paul Batten Racing sees the crew head to Bega in the Hyundai Motor Company-supported Hyundai Excel for Round three of the 2007 Rallydrive Hyundai Excel Series. At this event the team hope to extend their lead in the Excel Series, P2 class (1400-1600cc) and also the 2WD Victorian Rally Championship. In the meantime the Subaru will receive further upgrades in preparation for Round four of the NEC Australian Rally Championship.
 
Paul and Craig would like to thank Greg Moulden, Mick Carey and the students from Kangan Batman TAFE for their event preparation and service, along with Stuckey Tyre Service, Dunlop Motorsport, AVO Turbo, www.Linkecu.com, Pitman Trucks, DMS Suspension, Japanese Wholesale Spares, Hubble Photografix, www.rallydrive.com.au,  Sbaru Parts, WURTH, Coxy's Motorsport Parts, and Hyon Smash repairs.


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