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Two Victorians starred today at the 2006 NGK Rally of Melbourne with Scott Pedder winning his first rally on home soil and Simon Evans claiming the his first Australian Rally Championship.

Pedder was again the man to catch for much of today and claimed the round victory in front of Evans who won today's heat by 1.2-seconds on the back of wins in the final two stages at Mt Slide and De Bortoli Winery, which also ensured his maiden Australian Rally Championship.

Equal on points and stage wins, Pedder won the round ahead of Evans on a count back where the fastest time in the first forest stage, a stage won by Pedder, decided the round winner.

The Victorian duo took all in their stride and adjusted to the ever-changing conditions that saw two stages be cancelled due to the adverse weather.

"Being a local driver you get to know how these roads change with the weather and that helped today for sure, the wind and rain changed everything from the morning to the afternoon," an elated Simon Evans said after being presented with the championship at De Bortoli Winery.

Victorian driver Evans went into this morning's final heat leading Neal Bates in the championship by 19 points with Herridge a further 9 points behind in third.

When the final heat of the NGK Rally of Melbourne got under way this morning it was yesterday's heat one winner Pedder again leading the field after the first two stages ahead of championship leader Evans and Herridge.

Pedder won the first two stages this morning as he chased his first victory in the NGK Rally of Melbourne while Evans ensured the gap would never be large by winning stages three and four.

Halfway through today's heat, Mitsubishi's Pedder lead championship leader Evans by just two seconds leaving Evans in a commanding position for the championship ahead of teammate Bates and Herridge.

Herridge and Bates sat in third and fourth after the first De Bortoli stage while Darren Windus was placed fifth in a strong recovery after crashing out of heat one yesterday.

Only needing to finish in the top eight to claim his first championship, Evans and the field encountered gale force winds, rain and hail for the afternoon's stages of the NGK Rally of Melbourne.

As the rain and high winds set in, the field headed to the 24.83km Kalatha stage, the longest stage of the rally.

However with the adverse weather conditions hitting across the state two forest stages, Kalatha and Blowhard, were cancelled due.

With the stages called off by rally officials the cars headed back to the service park before running the final two stages which had been given the all clear.

The final two stages at Mt Slide and De Bortoli would decide the NGK Rally champion as well as the series champion.

With consistent rain falling, the field made their way to the appropriately named Mt Slide stage where Evans narrowed the gap to Pedder to just 0.6-seconds after setting the fastest time through the stage.

Bates was second fastest through Mt Slide but still trailed Herridge by over 16-seconds for the day, while Pedder was third.

As many predicted, the final stage at De Bortoli Winery would decide the NGK Rally of Melbourne winner as well as the 2006 Australian Rally Champion.

First to set his time was Simon Evans who by finishing the stage in first position sealed his first ever national rally championship with his wife and co-driver Sue Evans.

"This is the greatest feeling ever, I was so nervous at the start of the last stage.I have so many emotions right now!" an ecstatic Simon Evans said after the final stage.

"The conditions got really slippery on those final stages but we just won the Australian Rally Championship and to do it at my home event the NGK Rally of Melbourne s a dream come true.

"I really want to thank everyone at Toyota for such a great car and my wife Sue has been beside me all year which makes it all the sweeter"

Sue Evans was equally excited and was glad the years of hard work had paid off.

"It's great to be able to win this championship after so many years battling and not knowing if we would be able to get to this point, I am just so happy right now, this is the ultimate!" Sue Evans said.

Pedder claimed his first ever NGK Rally of Melbourne title after finishing second in the final stage and today's heat, while Bates gave Toyota fans more to cheer about sealing second in the championship to give the team a Toyota one-two.

"We knew the championship was a huge long shot and really came here to win the round so I'm rapt that we could do that and get the win in front of my home crowd," Scott Pedder said at De Bortoli.

"It would have been really nice to win today's heat but the main thing was to win the round and it is great to give Mitsubishi their first rally win this year."

Dean Herridge, already confirmed as the Privateer Champion, finished third in today's heat and also third in the championship.

The second privateer today was Darren Windus who finished fifth for the heat ahead of Kevin Shaw whose consistent weekend gave him fifth for the round.

In the Victorian Rally Championship, run over the same course, Eli Evans held a lead of over one minute ahead of Glen Raymond and Justin Dowell as the field adjusted to the tricky and wet conditions.

The cancellation of the two stages in the afternoon gave the teams a chance to make adjustments to their cars for the final two stages where Evans sealed victory in front of Raymond and Reeves.

The final stages saw Evans take the today's round ahead of Raymond and Dowel.

Despite the varying weather conditions a strong parochial crowd packed into the final stage at De Bortoli to cheer their local heroes on to round and championship victories.

But the event belonged to the local drivers, Evans and Pedder who took the battle down to the final stage of the NGK Rally of Melbourne on a day which saw rally crown a new and deserving champion.

2006 NGK Rally of Melbourne results - Outright

1          Scott Pedder               VIC      Mitsubishi

2          Simon Evans              VIC      Toyota           

3          Neal Bates                  ACT     Toyota           

4          Dean Herridge             WA      Subaru                       

5          Kevin Shaw                 NSW   Mitsubishi

Championship points after NGK Rally of Melbourne

1          Simon Evans              VIC      Toyota             224 points    & nbsp;

2          Neal Bates                  ACT     Toyota             193

3          Dean Herridge             WA      Subaru            187

4          Scott Pedder               VIC      Mitsubishi        168.5

5          Darren Windus           WA      Subaru               81

6          Stewart Reid               QLD    Toyota               72

7          Will Orders                  VIC      Subaru              69

8          Simon Jansen             TAS     Mitsubishi          29.5

9          Roman Watkins          WA      Subaru              28

10        DavidHills                   NSW   Mitsubishi          27

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