Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Scott Pedder scored his first heat win of the year at the coates Rally Queensland today, but couldn't stop a hard charging Simon Evans from securing his second consecutive round win.
Evans had to fight his way up the leaderboard after receiving a 30 second time penalty when the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) team changed his Corolla's gearbox overnight.
"I tried hard not to go silly over today's stages, and I kept telling myself that there's a championship on the line," Evans said.
"I know I definitely don't want to start the day with a penalty again though, it's been hard work!"
Evans won the majority of the day's stages and slowly clawed his way back into outright contention, eventually moving into second outright on the penultimate stage of the day.
He couldn't catch Pedder though, who returned to form after some overnight changes were made to his ill-handling Lancer Evo 9.
The only blight on Pedder's book was a cracked gearbox casing sustained on a fast dip during the last group of stages. Pedder pushed on though, and recorded he and co-driver Glen Weston's first heat win since Rally South Australia in 2005
"This is the only event where I've never had a podium finish, and I finally feel like I might have lifted the curse of Queensland!" Pedder said.
"It's a great result for Mitsubishi and the team and there's no reason why we can't continue this form into the last half of the season."
Privateer Dean Herridge andToyota pilot Neal Bates resumed their neck-and-neck battle in heat two.
Bates held second outright after the morning's first two stages but dropped time on the next 21- kilometre stage which allowed Herridge to move ahead.
"Neal is like a blowfly . he's annoying and he just won't go away!" joked Herridge at the final service break.
Bates didn't go away, instead he mounted a challenge on the last stage of the day to clinch third for the day and the final podium position from Herridge.
"I've got to stop leaving it to the last minute," Bates said.
"These battles with Dean are enjoyable when I come out on top, but they're pretty nerve-wracking while it's happening!"
Some consolation for Herridge was maximum points scored in the Privateers Cup ahead of Queensland star Stewart Reid and fellow West Australian Darren Windus.
Privateer Kelvin Croker capped off a brilliant weekend in 7th outright, ahead of fellow privateer David Hills.
Tasmanian Simon Jansen made it a clean sweep in the BP Ultimate Challenge, courtesy of his second straight top ten outright finish.
Pirtek Rally Team Ford finished heat two in 14th, and were buoyed by a constantly improving Focus. Driver Michael Guest worked particularly hard to give the team its first round finish without a DNF.
The coates Rally Queensland is the third of six rounds of the NEC Computers Australian Rally Championship.
The series now heads south to Hobart for the Subaru Safari Tasmania on July 14-16.
Provisional Results- Heat Two- coates Rally Queensland
S.Pedder/G.Weston (Mitsubishi)
S.Evans/ S. Evans (Toyota)               +5.9 seconds
N. Bates/C.Taylor (Toyota)                 +13.4
D.Herridge/B.Hayes (Subaru)             +17.8
S.Reid/A.McLoughlin (Toyota)            +17.8
Provisional Results- Overall Round- coates Rally Queensland
S.Evans/ S. Evans (Toyota)              
S.Pedder/G.Weston (Mitsubishi)       
N. Bates/C.Taylor (Toyota)
D.Herridge/B.Hayes (Subaru)            
S.Reid/A.McLoughlin (Toyota)         
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