Pirtek Les Walkden Rallying driver, Michael Guest, has put in a consistent drive in Heat 1 of Rally Queensland, taking second place after the ten stages of Heat 1.

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Driving his Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Guest and co-driver, David Green, were never outside the top five, and moved up the leaderboard as many of their rivals suffered problems.

Fastest stage times were being regularly set by the Evans brothers, Simon (Toyota) and Eli (Subaru), with the second Toyota of Neal Bates snapping at their heels. Guest, meanwhile, was waiting in the wings for those in front to strike trouble.

The Newcastle driver hit a dip in the road flat out early in the fourth stage, bending a front rim, which in turn was rubbing on a brake calliper. The front right tyre then started to deflate, causing Guest to spin the car at speed, and he dropped nearly half a minute to his rivals.

“It was unfortunate, and I was worried that we might have damaged something in the steering, so I then made sure we got back to service so that the boys could have a good look,” Guest said.

Fortunately, the damage was only to the tyre and rim, and Guest set about making up for lost time.

He then moved up a place when rally leader Simon Evans rolled his Toyota heavily. Evans and co-driving wife, Sue, were taken to hospital for precautionary tests, and are unlikely to start Heat 2 tomorrow.

Having seen off the challenge from local driver Stewart Reid, Guest was determined to finish the event on a high over the final 35km stage. With Bates and Eli Evans separated by only seconds, there was still plenty to play for.

Chasing his first ARC heat victory, the younger Evans found the pressure too great, spinning his car three times and puncturing two tyres, which not only gave Bates the win, but elevated Guest into second place – the second time this season he has finished in the runner-up position.

“It’s a great way to finish the day,” Guest said from the end-of-day service at Imbil. “We weren’t the fastest car out there today, but it was all about getting to the finish and getting some points in the bag.

“After a disastrous event in Canberra, it’s great to finally have some luck go our way.

The Pirtek LWR team fine-tuned the Impreza WRX STI during the day, and Guest believes there’s still more speed to come from the car.

“After spending last year in a Super 2000 car, the heavier Group N cars are quite difficult to drive,” Guest explained. “I think I’m probably being a bit too aggressive in my driving, but I’m getting there.

“I won a big fishing competition a few weeks ago, so maybe my luck is finally starting to change,” he added.

With a further eight stages and 121km of competitive driving to come in Heat 2, Guest will be out to push hard and try to reduce the gap between he and today’s winner, Neal Bates.

“I’ll definitely be pushing hard for a win – that’s the aim in every rally – but I also know that Neal (Bates) will be fast, and Eli (Evans) will be cranky after his problems today.

“Consistency will be the key again, and hopefully we can finish the weekend at least as well as we’ve finished today.”

Heat 2 gets under way at 8.37am tomorrow, before finishing back in Imbil at around 3pm tomorrow afternoon.

Keep up to date with the latest news by visiting www.leswalkdenrallying.com.au

Results, Rally Queensland
Heat 1

1. Neal Bates, Toyota Corolla, 1h14m43.8s
2. Michael Guest, Subaru Impreza WRX STI,  +1m07.7s
3. Eli Evans, Subaru Impreza WRX STI,  +1m20.8s
4. Stewart Reid, Toyota Corolla, +1m40.4s
5. Nathan Quinn, Mitsubishi Lancer, +2m06.8s
6. Spencer Lowndes, Mitsubishi Lancer, +2m29.4s

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