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Toyota rally drivers Simon Evans and Neal Bates are eagerly awaiting taking to the flowing roads of the South Australian forests this weekend.

The team mates were in a buoyant mood at this morning’s unofficial practice, despite the rainy conditions.

NEC Australian Rally Championship leader, Simon Evans, is taking a somewhat cautious approach to the Toyota Rally SA.

“We don’t have to win here, which is a bit of a relief,” said Evans.

“All we have to do is get on the podium, but even that is going to be tough.

“The roads are in absolutely magic condition. You can go so fast, but that’s where you can get caught out – in that high-speed corner that just tightens up a little bit. You’ve really got to be switched on when you’re out there.”

Evans is relishing the chance to lead the championship, but admits to a degree of responsibility out in front.

“I’ve never been so nervous in all my life.

“The pressure is on to perform at every event, but I’m enjoying leading the pack. But the reality is that the pressure is on the other boys to close the gap.”

TRD boss Neal Bates sits just behind Evans in second place in the championship.

“The championship has been incredibly good for us so far and we’ve had a dream start to the championship,” he said. “Tasmania was the first round we haven’t won this year.”

“If Simon and Sue won the championship I would be over the moon. If we won the championship I might be a little bit happier, but it is a team effort and they have done the business this year.”

Bates was cautious about the weather, after rain had led to damp roads during the mornings practice runs.

“We’d be very happy if it doesn’t rain again this weekend.

“Traditionally Michelins have been really good in the dry and we feel like we have a tyre advantage in dry conditions, so we’re looking for dry, hard-packed roads.

“From what we saw in recce yesterday, the conditions are perfect.”

The Toyota Rally SA runs through the Barossa Valley and Mount Crawford Forest region north of Adelaide on Saturday and Sunday (August 19 and 20).

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