TRD to debut new Super 2000 rally car
Neal Bates will debut the new TRD Corolla rally car at his home event, the Rally of Canberra, on June 1-3.
The three-time Australian Rally Champion has just completed a successful shakedown of the brand new Super 2000 car in Queensland, which left the team thrilled with the car’s performance.
Bates has been campaigning an S2000 test car in the first two rounds of the 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship, becoming the first S2000 driver in Australian history to win a stage and finish on the podium in the last round in Western Australia.
Bates now sits in second place in the championship behind team-mate Simon Evans, who won both of the season’s opening events in last year’s championship-winning Group N (P) Corolla.
The TRD crew were over the moon with the shakedown performance, with not one technical concern emerging from the day in Queensland.
"The car performed really well," Bates said. "You are always very nervous when you run a brand new car for the very first time.
"We ended up doing nearly as big a distance as an ARC rally and the car was bulletproof for the entire time."
The TRD boss is optimistic while remaining cautious about the chances of the new car in its first event.
"The car will be lighter than the one we have run so far this season, but it still won’t be down to the minimum allowed for S2000 cars [1150kg]. We will probably be able to eventually get the car down to around 30 to 40 kilograms over that.
"The aim for Canberra is to finish the event. We don’t expect to introduce a brand new car and have absolutely no problems, but we’d love to finish both heats to give us a good understanding of how far away from the pace we might be."
Reigning Australian Rally Champion, Simon Evans, admits to being envious of his team-mate in debuting the new car.
"It’s a really pretty car," Evans said. "Ever since the ARC announced it would include S2000 cars I’ve been looking forward to driving one, because they are such exciting cars.
"I’ve driven similar types of cars in the past, but seeing this one up close makes me itch to get hold of mine. We are hoping it can be ready before the end of the season.
"In the meantime, I’m happy to focus on the championship in the old girl – she’s treated me well so far!"
The team will test the stunning new Super 2000 Corolla one more time prior to the Rally of Canberra, before it makes its ARC debut in the event’s night stage on Friday, June 1.