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Four-time Australian Rally Champion, Neal Bates, has finished second in Heat 1 of the Rally of Canberra, despite dust hampering his progress early in the day.

Bates and co-driver, Coral Taylor, were forced to stop mid-stage on the first competitive section of the event due to thick dust that severely reduced visibility.

Visibility improved on the following group of stages but the dry conditions again took their toll on stage four where Bates' Corolla picked up a puncture - costing the local driver significant time.

The afternoon's final three stages proved Bates, without his earlier issues, would have contested the heat win as he set fastest times on all three passes to lessen the final gap to 40.6s behind eventual Heat 1 winner and former team-mate, Simon Evans.

Bates, Taylor and the entire Neal Bates Motorsport outfit are confident of a stronger showing in tomorrow's Heat 2 that will see crews tackle more-than 90 kilometres of competitive action, including two runs over the 30km long Blue Tiles stage.

Neal Bates - Car #1:

"I wasn't very happy this morning due to the dust, but there was nothing we could do about it. Then the puncture cost us around 30 seconds and that killed our chances of fighting for the win. Simon (Evans) was extremely quick but we definitely would have put up more of a fight.

“Besides the dust and the puncture it was actually a great day, but you only need either one of those things to ruin your day and we unfortunately had both - so second isn't too bad considering. I think the dust will be a problem again tomorrow morning because the conditions look similar, so we may have another challenging day."

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