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Fifty-eight entries have been received for this weekend’s Toyota Rally South Australia, the fifth round of the Australian Rally Championship, to be held in the Adelaide Hills.

That number is the highest for an ARC round this year, and comes after the disappointing field of just 23 cars at the previous round in Tasmania last month.

Heading the field is current series leader Simon Evans, whose Toyota Corolla heads an eager swarm of top-notch rally crews including Scott Pedder (Lancer Evo 9), Neal Bates (Corolla) and Dean Herridge (Subaru).

Pedder is confident of repeating his victory from last year, and with Heat victories in Queensland and Tasmania, he’s in top form to move back into championship calculations. However, the Toyotas of Evans and Bates will have other ideas.

Local favourite Steve Glenney makes a welcome return to the ARC in his home event, and will start from position five in his Impreza WRX. Glenney led the event for a short time last year, and will be keen to show his speed after a similarly impressive performance in Targa Tasmania this year, where he also led.

Other leading privateers in the event include West Australian Darren Windus (Subaru), South Australians Sam Brand (Subaru), Declan Dwyer (Mitsubishi) and Jack Monkhouse (Mitsubishi), and the Subarus of Will Orders and Roman Watkins, and Stewart Reid’s Toyota.

Ford’s Michael Guest will start his Focus from position ten and believes that the South Australian event will suit his car more than any other event so far this year, particularly with the Focus now developing over 200kW of power.

Victorian Champion, Justin Dowel, will head across the border to pit his skills against the nation’s best in his Lancer Evo 6.

The field is the best so far this year, highlighted by the fact that young Victorian, Glen Raymond, who finished Heat 1 in seventh place in Tasmania, is just the 20th seed in South Australia.

The entry list offers a good mix of four-wheel drive turbo, front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive cars for an event that is held primarily on hard-packed shire roads, and is widely regarded as the best in the championship.

Last year over 30,000 spectators saw the action in wet and slippery conditions, and a similar number are expected in 2006. The event is also a round of the South Australian Rally Championship, of which there are 35 entries.

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