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Simon Evans has set a blistering pace on stage one of the Capital Rally of Canberra, driving his Toyota Corolla to a commanding 10 second lead.

His team-mate, Neal Bates, lies in second place after the opening 10km stage, held on the outskirts of Canberra under clear skies, and in front of hundreds of enthusiastic spectators.

Bates’ brand new Super 2000 Toyota Corolla was a further 7.4 seconds ahead of Eli Evans in a Subaru Impreza, with Will Orders fourth.

The biggest drama of the stage surrounded Ford’s lead driver, Michael Guest, who rolled his Ford Fiesta near the end of the stage, dropping over a minute and a half. Although Guest’s car finished the stage with all the windows smashed, mechanically it is still sound and he will re-start the event tomorrow morning.

Guest’s team-mate, Darren Windus, lies in sixth place, behind the new Lancer Evo 9 of Spencer Lowndes.

The competitors in the third round of the Australian Rally Championship return to the forests tomorrow morning and face seven stages and a further 106km of competitive driving. The first stage of the day, Oakey Creek, is the day’s longest at 20.71km.

Results after Stage 1:

1. Simon Evans / Sue Evans                       Toyota Corolla Sportivo       6m49.7s

2. Neal Bates / Coral Taylor             Toyota Corolla S2000          +10.0s

3. Eli Evans / Chris Murphy              Subaru Impreza WRX           +17.4s

4. Will Orders / Toni Feaver             Subaru Impreza WRX           +22.6s

5. Spencer Lowndes / Chris Randell          Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9       +23.9s

6. Darren Windus / Jon Mortimer                Ford Fiesta S2000               +39.5s

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