Newcastle’s Michael Guest has finished second in both heats of Rally Queensland after a faultless drive on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.

Driving his Pirtek Les Walkden Rallying Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Guest and co-driver, David Green, once again showed that consistency is what counts, never being outside the top three over today’s eight special stages.

Guest’s Subaru ran faultlessly for the entire two-day, 18-stage event, which was round three of the Australian Rally Championship.

Having finished second in yesterday’s first heat, Guest pushed hard right from the outset this morning. With his Subaru being fine-tuned more and more to his liking, he was able to challenge rivals Neal Bates (Toyota) and Eli Evans (Subaru) with renewed confidence.

Guest and Green won two of today’s eight stages, including the event’s longest test, the 35.43km final stage of the rally. This was despite a flat tyre near the end of the stage.

After a testing previous round of the championship in Canberra last month, Guest was keen to put his bad luck behind him and bounce back into championship contention.

“We pushed really hard today and it paid dividends,” Guest said at the end of a tough rally. “I changed my driving style today. I tried to left-foot brake a lot more and drive in more of an understeer style.

“While I don’t particularly enjoy driving that way – I much prefer the oversteer style – it seems to be how you have to drive these Group N cars to make them go fast.

“The Pirtek LWR team once again prepared a perfect car for us, and it didn’t miss a beat all rally. We had a tyre explode about two and a half kilometres before the end of the final stage, but apart from that it was all good.”

After yesterday’s last stage disappointment, today’s second heat was won by young Subaru privateer Eli Evans. Neal Bates had led the event in his Toyota, but punctured a tyre on the day’s penultimate stage to eventually finish third, just ahead of Mitsubishi privateer Spencer Lowndes, with Glen Raymond’s Toyota fifth.

Guest’s double podium finish now sees him lying fourth in the Australian Rally Championship, only three points behind third placed Spencer Lowndes, and within striking distance of second placed Eli Evans.

Although Neal Bates has a strong lead, Rally Queensland has shown that nothing can be taken for granted, and that one slip up can turn the championship table upside down.

The Pirtek Les Walkden Rallying team now have a five week break before the next round of the championship, the picturesque Rally South Australia, held in the Barossa Valley wine growing region.

Results, Rally Queensland, June 20-21, 2008

Heat 2
1.    Eli Evans, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1h12m34.4s
2.    Michael Guest, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +18.7s
3.    Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla, +38.2s
4.    Spencer Lowndes, Mitsubishi Lancer, +53.8s
5.    Glen Raymond, Toyota Corolla, +1m37.2s

Points after round three of the Australian Rally Championship
1.    Neal Bates, Toyota, 219
2.    Eli Evans, Subaru, 156
3.    Spencer Lowndes, Mitsubishi, 126
4.    Michael Guest, Subaru, 123
5.    Simon Evans, Toyota, 112

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