Team TRD Rally drivers Simon Evans and Neal Bates are eagerly awaiting the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge, the first all-tarmac event in the Australian Rally Championship's (ARC) 41-year history.

Reigning champion Evans and current series leader Bates have both tested their S2000 Corollas in tarmac guise ahead of the championship's penultimate round and are excited by how well they handle the black top.

Evans has contested two major tarmac events already this year and believes the ARC's tarmac debut will add much needed variety and excitement to the series.

The two-time champion is also pleased with how the Corolla reacts on tarmac with its lower ride-height, bigger wheels and Michelin slick tyres.

"In testing I found the Corolla really fun to drive as it produced a lot more grip, which means corner speeds will be a lot higher for this event. In fact, everything will be a bit different," Evans said.

"The racing will be a lot closer and if it stays dry it will be tight at the top.

"To keep speeds in check the event organisers have added plenty of chicanes, and with heavy penalties if you hit, or cut across them, the rally could be won or lost on the chicanes."

Three-time champion Bates' chances of netting a fourth ARC title have been given a boost before he even turns a wheel following news that Eli Evans, currently second in the championship, is not running in Tasmania.

Bates is disappointed not to be competing against his team-mate's younger brother, but knows there is still a lot of work to do before he can switch his focus to winning another title.

"Firstly, it is exciting to have a new type of event in the ARC and I think everyone will really enjoy it," Bates said.

"It's a shame for everyone that Eli won't be running and although everyone keeps mentioning the championship, I am trying to concentrate on one event at a time.

"This rally will have a higher average speed than a gravel event and although S2000 cars lack top speed, Simon and I will make up for any losses with the Corolla's superior braking and handling.

"I have really enjoyed testing and developing the car to achieve what is for us a unique set-up.

"A tarmac event will also give an interesting comparison between our S2000-spec cars and the Group N-spec cars of our competitors.

"It will be good to see how the stage times compare between the Group N cars that produce a lot more horsepower, and our Corollas that are lighter and have sequential transmissions."

The Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge runs from 4-5 October, is based in Burnie on the Apple Isle's north-west coast and utilises many of the roads used for both Targa Tasmania and February's non-ARC Rally Tasmania.

The rally covers 176.8 competitive kilometres and features 12 competitive stages and one warm-up stage at the start of Heat 1. 
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