Coffs Coast Rally: Toyota preview
- 10th November 2008, 10:55am
Team TRD Rally duo Neal Bates and Simon Evans are set to battle it out for the 2008 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) as they are the only two drivers mathematically capable of winning the title heading into the season-ending Coffs Coast Rally on 15-16 November.
Three-time champion Bates and current champion Evans have won every event this season in their S2000 Corollas, but with a 113 point lead over his team-mate, TRD boss Bates requires just a 15th place in Heat 1 to claim a fourth ARC title.
Bates - who set up his lead with victories in the first three rounds of the season - knows a good result will see him become just the third driver in the 41-year history of the ARC to win four or more championships.
"The team have been coming to Coffs for years to rally and we all really enjoy coming back whenever we get the chance," Bates said.
"I have always enjoyed the rally roads in Coffs and the team enjoys the fact that the whole community really support the event. Everyone goes out of their way to make us feel welcome.
"Coffs has some of the best rally roads you could ever drive on and it is also a beautiful place to go, so it is the ideal location to round out the season.
"I am trying not to think too much about the championship, but I would dearly love to win it again. I just have to concentrate on getting through the first heat in a good position and to win a fourth title 15 years after the first one would be a real achievement."
Evans endured a tough start to the season following his record-breaking run in 2007, but strong results in the second-half of the year have enabled him to keep in the championship race, albeit with an outside chance of a third crown.
"It has been a tough year, but to still be in the title chase coming into the final event is not too bad," Evans said.
"Neal has driven consistently all year and although we have had our fair share of bad luck, the main thing is only a TRD driver can walk away with the title.
"Anything can happen in rallying and I will be pushing all the way on Coffs' magical rally roads, but it will take a lot to win the title given Neal's strong position."
Team TRD Rally will also run a third car in the Coffs Coast Rally for leading motoring journalist and experienced rally driver Paul Gover, who will be driving the very Corolla Evans piloted to the last two ARC titles.
Coffs Harbour is making a welcome return to the Australian calendar for the first time since 2000, and this year's rally kicks-off with a ceremonial start on Friday, 14 November before Heat 1 commences on Saturday.
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