Final preparations for this weekend’s Capital Rally of Canberra got under way this morning in the Kowen Forest Plantation with the NEC Australian Rally Championship Shakedown. 


Continuing the dominant speed that he has carried through the first two rounds of the NEC ARC, Toyota Racing Development’s Simon Evans set the pace for the rest of the field, ahead of his TRD team mate Neal Bates.

Evans set the quickest time of 1 min 37 seconds in his Group N (P) Corolla, one second ahead of TRD team mate Neal Bates in his brand new Super 2000 Corolla.

“I’m going to continue driving with the same plan I had for the last two rounds - so far it’s worked, so why change it,” smiled Evans. “I’m just going out there to drive fast and see if anyone’s crazy enough to drive faster, and we’ll worry about that if it happens,” added Evans.

This morning’s Shakedown was the first public run for Bates and the new Corolla and he couldn’t be happier with how the car is progressing.

“At the test on Tuesday all our times were back- to-back with Simon’s car and they were almost identical,” Bates said.  “To come out here this morning and continue that was really impressive considering it’s a brand new car.”

The shakedown provided a good opportunity for the Pirtek Ford Rally Team to get out in the forest and see how their recently modified Super 2000 Fiestas compared with Evans and the rest of the field.

“We’ve definitely come a long way since the last round,” Michael Guest said.  “The cars are definitely getting there, and we’ve made massive gains in the handling since WA. It’s a real rally car now.”

The Rally of Canberra officially kicks off tonight with the Ceremonial Start in Garema Place at 6pm, before the cars head out to the forest to complete the first night stage in 10 years.

Shakedown times:

1. Simon Evans (Toyota Corolla Sportivo) 1m37s
2. Neal Bates (Toyota Corolla Super 2000) 1:38
3. Brendan Reeves (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1:40
4. Eli Evans (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1:41
5. Will Orders (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1:42 
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