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Three-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates was narrowly beaten by sprintcar ace Brooke Tatnell in an Australian-first handicap race at Parramatta City Raceway on Saturday night during the rain-shortened 2008 Australian Sprintcar Championship.

TRD Rally boss Bates in his Group N (P) Corolla and three-time national sprintcar champion Tatnell in his V8-powered sprintcar raced alongside accomplished rally driver Rick Bates who drove a pre-production TRD HiLux.

The trio wowed the crowd who had to wait an extra night for the TRD speed comparison due to Sydney's persistent rain that flooded the clay oval track.

Tatnell in a specially-liveried TRD sprintcar and the Bates brothers made a rolling start to the green light before Tatnell showed the power and grip of his purpose-built oval racer.

The Toyota Genuine Parts-sponsored sprintcar ace had to complete seven laps of the circuit in the time rally champion Bates covered six and his brother Rick five in the TRD HiLux.

Bates used his TRD Corolla's nimbleness to stay low on the banked oval track, while his brother put the pre-production TRD HiLux's 4.0-litre supercharged engine to good use, powering along the short straights.

Tatnell crossed the line less than 200 metres ahead of the Corolla, while Rick Bates showed the potential of the soon-to-be-released TRD HiLux, finishing not far behind his brother.

"What a great spectacle for the crowd - that was great fun," said Tatnell as he stepped from his car after the race.

"This sort of race, bringing different categories together and with Toyota's involvement, is great for Australian sprintcar racing.

"It was a nice chance to have some fun during what is our biggest event of the year."

TRD Rally's Neal Bates was impressed with the sprintcar's power, but jokingly suggested the result would be different if Tatnell brought his car to a rally.

"The power of the sprintcar is awesome," said Bates. "But I reckon we take Brooke and his car into the forest and see how he copes then.

"However, keep in mind the sprintcar is designed to drive on ovals and to only turn left so I am glad I finished as close as I did. It shows the Corolla is no slouch away from the narrow roads and trees."

Brother Rick was full of praise for the TRD HiLux. The internationally accomplished racer said it delivered power well and handled superbly on the uneven clay surface.

Due to continuous heavy rain, the final Toyota Dash races that will decide the Australian Championship will be held at Parramatta City Raceway on Saturday, 29 March
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