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TRD's Simon Evans heads to the penultimate round of the 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship knowing that he can wrap up the title in the New South Wales mid-north coast town of Forster, home of the ARC's newest round - the Great Lakes Rally.

Evans and his co-driver wife Sue have been in dominant form this season, winning every heat of the first four rallies to hold a 95-point lead over closest rival and team-mate Neal Bates.

"We have a strong lead in the championship but we have to be careful we don't get too over-confident as it's an easy way to stuff up and make mistakes," Evans said.

"We are just approaching it with the same attitude and respect we have had for all the other rallies this year."

Bates' performances have been equally praiseworthy as he has hounded Evans all year while also developing the team's new S2000 Corolla.

"The S2000 is getting faster and faster at every event and we are absolutely over the moon with the two events it's done so far," Bates said.

"It has been fast and reliable, and in South Australia our times relative to Simon's Group N (P) were much closer.

"Because the car came out of South Australia in really good condition we have just been doing some work to try and get more speed out of it."

The new event also presents the best chance for Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor to defeat the Evans duo.

"I don't think the fact we haven't rallied there before will be an advantage for anyone," Bates said. "It's a clean slate so everyone will be in the same position."

Defending champion Evans agrees and believes the Great Lakes Rally will be the toughest of the season as all competitors are going in with limited knowledge of the stages.

"Not having rallied there before and not knowing much about the stages doesn't make much difference to me," Evans said. "Well-established events are bringing in new stages all the time, so it will just be like a big bunch of new stages. In the end it's going to be another gravel rally and it looks like it will be fast, so it should be fun."

Set in and around the coastal town of Forster, the 14-stage Great Lakes Rally takes in arguably the state's best rallying roads - most of which have recently been upgraded.

The rally location looks set to become a favourite among teams as the service park is located right on the main beach at Forster.
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