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Toyota Racing Development’s Simon Evans has continued where he left off in 2007 taking out Heat One of the Quit Forest Rally, the opening round of the 2008 Australian Rally Championship season.
 
By taking the Heat Evans has stretched his winning streak to 14 Heats in a succession, and has recorded the first ever heat win for a Super 2000 in the Australian Rally Championship.
 
The Busselton Toyota Super Special Stage kicked started the QUIT Forest Rally and Heat One last night, with TRD’s Neal Bates once again proving he is the man to beat on the tarmac stage taking the win from Evan’s Motorport’s Eli Evans with Simon Evans only 0.1 second behind.
 
However it was TRD’s Simon Evans who got the jump this morning not looking back, winning the Heat by 1 minute 28.2 seconds. However, while dominate he admitted he was having some teething problems with his new car.
 
“It feels good to be the first driver to win an ARC heat in an S2000 car, but we didn’t do it easy out there, even if it might look like it.  The stages are incredibly challenging and we’re still gelling with the car, got a few issues but I can’t complain look at the times,” said Evans.
 
“Either way this is a fantastic result for Toyota and for the S2000 category – it’s something I love and I am really pleased Sue and I have made the transition and done so fairly smoothly. We are going to make a few changes ahead of Heat 2 but it won’t be anything too far from what we have now.”
 
Bates, struggled at times with the slippery conditions brought about by the unique West Australian road surface, but as the Heat went on he found some pace finishing the Heat comfortably in second.
 
I didn’t have the best run and Michael Guest’s roll-over helped secure me second – these things come your way every once in a while so you have to take them when you can. All-in-all it was a great day.”
 
“The roads were really good again but we were a bit off the pace. It is nothing that I can pinpoint at the moment but we’ll have a think about it and make some changes to try and improve things before we hit the forests again tomorrow.”
 
Local West Australian driver, Redline Oil’s Alex Stone was consistent across every stage and was rewarded with third outright for the heat, a fantastic effort which has surprised even the crew themselves.
 
“We’ve got a diff setup in the car to how we’d normally run it and I didn’t expect to be as quick because I have to drive it differently so to be where we are is such a surprise,” said Stone.  “We’re just going out there and having some fun!”
 
Current Victorian Rally Champion Activ Hardware’s Justin Dowel sits in fourth for the heat, but will tonight sit third outright in the ARC points, as Stone is not registered for the Championship in full.
 
Pirtek Rally Team LWR’s Michael Guest was the major victim of the day, sitting comfortably in second before he left the road and hit a hidden rock causing him to roll on SS8, ending his Heat and potentially his rally.
 
Locals from the Busselton and Nannup regions showed their support with Event Organiser Ross Tapper saying there has been a boost in numbers since the 2007 event.
 
“We are very pleased with the crowds at all the spectator points out here in the forest today,” said Tapper.  “Attendance at all major spectator points were significantly up from last year, as was the support from local community groups who put on sausage sizzles and the like throughout the day.”
 
Heat One results:
 
Simon Evans (Toyota Racing Development) 1:05:50.7
Neal Bates (Toyota Racing Development) 1:07:18.9
Alex Stone (Redline Oil) 1:09:36.1
Justin Dowel (Activ Rallysport) 1:10:25.8
Darren Windus (Japanese Wholesale Spares) 1:12:08.2
Eli Evans (Evans Motorsport) 1:12:16.7
Brenton Kaitler (KME RS Rallyesport) 1:12:37.9
Roman Watkins (Secure Glass) 1:15:22.5
Mark Butcher (Driver Skills Australia) 1:20:29.0
Barry Kirk (Barry Kirk) 1:35:13.1
Spencer Lowndes (Access Hardware) 1:12:06.7
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