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So far this season Neal Bates has had the Classic category in the palm of his hand, with victories in Canberra and Queensland, added to an International win at the Otago Rally in New Zealand.
 
But when the Classic contenders line up for this weekend’s Scouts Rally SA in the Adelaide hills there will be one or two hoping to slow the Bates steamroller down.
 

“Neal deserves every success, he’s got experience on his side and a very fast car too, but I’m hopeful that we might be able to put a dent in his points this weekend,” said Porsche 911 driver Jeff David.
 
It will mark Jeff David’s first outing at Scout’s Rally SA since 2011, having missed the 2013 edition and handing over the driving seat to his son in 2012.
 
“The last time I ran in SA we broke the gearbox on the very first stage, so for sure I’m really looking forward to getting back there and having a good go on those stages. They are so fast and smooth and that’s perfect for our car because we tend to have fairly long legs.”
 
“Having said that our car, with all that weight out the back, doesn’t tend to like the fast corners. We’re better off in the stop start stuff where the weight gives us added traction. The weather is always a bit cold, but there is the benefit of good wine too!” David laughed.
 
Bates will also have to contend with Clay Badenoch, Clay having taken delivery of an identical Toyota Celica RA40 at the previous Round in Queensland, while fellow Queenslander Stewart Reid makes a welcome return to the series in David Thompson’s Audi Quattro replica.
 
Thompson himself also makes a return in his ever-sideways Ford Falcon GTHO. The black beast was a spectator favourite a couple of years ago when it last ran, and it’s thumping V8 will be sure to have Scouts Rally SA fans in raptures throughout the weekend as it thunders past.
 
But the biggest cheer will no doubt go out to 1985 and 1986 Australian Rally Champion Barry Lowe. It was at this event last year where Barry and co-driver Helen Pearl destroyed their Holden Commodore to the point where Lowe believed he may never compete again.
 
One year on though the Commodore has been resurrected and Barry is promising that despite the accident one year ago that’s not going to slow him down, if anything he’s promised to go even faster.
 
“It’s a brand new car with a lot of bits out of the old car. All up I think we’ve put abut two and a half thousand hours into building it and it’s even better, lighter and faster than the older car!” Barry said.
 
“I’m 62 years old, accidents happen in this sport and sometimes if you go hard things can go wrong and that’s what happened a year ago. For about a week after the accident I thought that was it, it was all over, and then I snapped out of it and found a good body shell and started rebuilding it all over again.”
 
“The car looks and sounds terrific, I’m excited to get it out there and show the fans that you can’t keep us old blokes in our old cars down for long!”
 
Scouts Rally SA gets underway this Friday 1st August with the ARMOR ALL Power Stage held in the Mount Crawford Forests, before the opening four competitive stages take drivers on a loop in the forests around the Mount Pleasant Showground service area.

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