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Pirtek Rally Team's Michael Guest and Mark Stacey have come within 0.5 of a second from finishing runner-up in the second heat of the Great Lakes Rally outside Forster in New South Wales.
Driving a Super 2000 Ford Fiesta, Guest powered through the tricky coastal forest stages to climb to second with just two stages remaining.
A costly spin on the second last stage opened the door for rival Neal Bates who held-on over the final stage.
Guest's performance earned him sixth overall after a tough conclusion to the opening heat.
The Newcastle driver was fourth in the rally, but a fuel pick-up problem halted the Fiesta on a transport section midway through the day. By the time Guest and Stacey found the issue, they had run overtime and dropped down the order.
With the exception of the fuel issue, the Fiesta had by far its strongest outing.
The Pirtek Rally Team is currently the only organisation in the world running the Ford Fiesta Super 2000.
"Third in leg #2 is a great result for a team that has been working non-stop with these cars," said Guest.
"The Fiesta was excellent throughout the whole rally. It handled well and we were really able to take it to the opposition.
"I'm excited with the progress we made this weekend. The great thing is that we are making more and more progress every time. We can now legitimately look at an outright podium result."
Pirtek Rally Teammates Darren Windus and Jon Mortimer finished the second heat in sixth place. Their opening heat was brought undone with a spin early that dropped them to 12th.
Windus was placed seventh overall for the event.
"Great to get sixth today after a challenging opening leg," said Windus.
"The set-up we ran yesterday didn't work for me and the spin didn't help either. Importantly we were able to adjust the car and after the opening two stages today I could really have a go.
"After two tough rounds, it was really important for us to finish this weekend. The great thing is that we not only finished, but we completed the event strongly."
Pirtek Rally Team Chief Engineer Marcus Clarke was pleased with the performance of both Fiestas.
"Great result for Michael today and a strong showing from Darren," said Clarke.
"You can only make true progress when you complete events. To have both cars finish the entire competitive section of this rally has given us enormous technical information. It's also given everyone on the team a spring in their step.
"We had made some major changes to the Fiestas since the previous round in South Australia. I'm delighted to say that these changes have all improved our performance and reliability.
"We have worked very hard with our engine program, in particular a change in direction to control things within our team. We have also been pleased with our partnership with Melbourne Performance Centre which is now responsible for our engine tuning.
"The fuel pick-up issue with Michael's car was just one of those things in motor sports. We changed the system and had no issues with it today."
The next round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship will be the NGK Rally of Melbourne on 10-11 November.
The Pirtek Rally Team would like to pass on its deepest condolences to the family of Colin McRae, as well as his son Johnny and other members involved in a fatal helicopter accident in Scotland.


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