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TRD remains first and second after the Safari Rally Tasmania, with Simon Evans and Neal Bates finishing second and third respectively in the overall results.

In today’s Heat 2, Evans’ focus was firmly on maximising his gain without risking his 16-point lead in the NEC Australian Rally Championship.

“I was probably still driving at between eight and nine tenths for most of the day,” said Evans.

“All in all it has been a terrific weekend. The car has proved to be strong and reliable again – which is how you win championships.”

At the end of today’s running Evans was in second place, 16.7s behind Mitsubishi’s Scott Pedder. Combined with his second place in Heat 1, it was enough to claim second overall in the event behind Heat 1 winner Dean Herridge.

In Heat 1, Evans had built a 21.6s lead over the field leading into the heat’s final stage before a sharp rock cut the tyre valve causing a flat tyre. It was enough to see the Toyota driver drop to second behind Subaru’s Herridge.

After winning six stages in Heat 1, another goal for Evans was to secure the bonus point for most stage wins. By winning three more stages today, he claimed that point.

“Going into those last few stages the team told me I needed one more stage win [for the bonus point] and I picked it up a bit – but it wasn’t quite ten tenths.”

“It was good that we were in a position to win yesterday – which I didn’t expect down here.”

With just 2.2s to the third place car of Dean Herridge and five stages remaining today, Neal Bates saw an opportunity to catch the Subaru and demote him to second place overall.

However it did not work out for the TRD boss and he settled for fourth place.

“I’m not quite sure what happened on those last few stages,” he said.

“I think I might have been trying a bit too hard – I put everything into it and I was really surprised when I saw what the times were.

“This event doesn’t suit us like some others so we’ve done pretty well this weekend – Simon has extended his lead and I’m still second in the championship, so we’re pretty happy with the event.”

Simon Evans now leads the NEC ARC on 142 points, ahead of team mate Neal Bates on 124 points. Herridge sits in third place on 116 points ahead of Pedder on 93 points and Darren Windus in fifth on 54 points.

Round 5 of the NEC Australian Rally Championship is in South Australia on August 19-20.

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