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The Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Rally Team has continued the form that led it to a clean sweep of the 2007 Australian Rally Championship, collecting six major awards since the final round of the season.

TRD received five awards at the end-of-season Australian Motor Sport Awards held in Melbourne in mid-December.

Simon Evans collected his drivers' title trophy and wife Sue Evans her co-drivers' title trophy, while Toyota also collected its second manufacturers' trophy in a row.

In the first of two unexpected awards, TRD Rally boss Neal Bates received the prestigious Phil Irving Award in recognition of engineering excellence.

Bates became only the third recipient of the award, which is named after the renowned Australian motorcycle designer. Bates joins legendary Brabham Formula One designer Ron Tauranac and gearbox ace Peter Hollinger.

Sue Evans won the second surprise award when she took home the Motorsport Personality of the Year Award, beating competitors including V8 Supercar star Mark Skaife and open-wheel racer Leanne Tander.

Evans became the first woman to claim the award, which her husband Simon won in 2003.

The team's double championship-winning Group N (P) Corolla rally car was also recognised with an award, jointly claiming Auto Action magazine's reader-voted Race Car of the Year Award alongside Ferrari's F2007 Formula One car.

Developed and built at the TRD Rally workshop in Canberra, the magazine recognised the efforts of Bates' team in producing such a dominant car.

Evans has driven the Group N (P) Corolla to victory in the last two Australian Rally Championship titles and enjoyed unprecedented success in 2007, becoming the first driver to win every heat and every round in a season.

Since it made its full-time debut in 2003, the Group N (P) model has claimed 11 overall wins, 21 heat wins and 29 podiums.

The awards are a fitting end to the team's trophy-laden season, something Toyota's motorsport manager Todd Connolly said was well-deserved.

"The entire TRD Rally Team has performed above and beyond our wildest dreams in 2007," Connolly said.

"With Simon winning back-to-back titles in dominant fashion and Neal finishing second overall in what was a development year for the new S2000 Corolla, the team richly deserves the accolades it has received.

"And the Race Car of the Year Award is a testament to Toyota's core values of Quality, Durability and Reliability - as the Group N (P) has won the last two titles without recording a single retirement."
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