Toyota ready for rally title defence
- 1st April 2008, 8:42am
Reigning champion Simon Evans and three-time series winner Neal Bates will both be driving Super 2000-spec Corollas following the retirement of the team's ultra-successful Group N (P) Corollas.
Evans utterly dominated last year's Forest Rally, winning every stage, both heats as well as securing outright victory.
The now two-time champion is looking forward to debuting his new S2000 Corolla at an event he clearly enjoys.
"It will be great to get our first start in the S2000 Corolla at an event where we did so well last year," Evans said.
"Although I doubt we will replicate last year's efforts, I think we will be very fast in the S2000.
"As I spent so many years driving a non-turbo car before I joined Toyota, I am comfortable with the driving style required to get the most out of the new car.
"The roads around Busselton are very slippery. With no turbo we will have to be on the power all the time, but to me that's what rallying is all about, so I just can't wait to get started."
Team boss Bates has mixed feelings about the Western Australian event. Although he secured the S2000 Corolla's maiden podium at the event last season, it has never been one of his favourites
"I love the drive across to Perth," Bates said. "I have no idea how many times I have driven across the Nullarbor, but it is relaxing and I always look forward to the cruise across the desert.
"Over the years I could not really say I have enjoyed the roads in Perth, but I have had reasonable success there at times. The event has grown on me and I enjoy driving there a lot more than I used to.
"In 2007 we lacked rear grip on Perth's slippery roads, so that is one reason we have gone to all the trouble to improve the suspension this year."
Apart from the two factory TRD Rally Team S2000 Corollas, two privateer Toyota teams will also be aiming to run at the front of the field during the 2008 season.
Former Privateer Cup Champion Stewart Reid and young gun Glen Raymond will both be driving ex-TRD Group N (P) Corollas for their respective teams.
Whilst Reid has been forced to miss the opening round, Raymond plans to contest all six rounds of the championship.
Head to www.trd.com.au to keep up with the latest results from the 2008 QUIT Forest Rally.
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