Victory for Batten in Rally SA
Paul Batten Racing has continued their strong form shown at the Rally of Canberra by taking the Rally Challenge category honours at the Toyota Kluger Rally SA, held in and around the Barossa Valley of South Australia recently. The event was a perfect opportunity to test the new engine tune from AVO Turbo, and continue their quest for the 2007 Rally Challenge crown.
The weekend was not without drama, though, with the team finding out late on Wednesday afternoon that their regular service crew would be unable to attend. With the monumental help of Evans Motorsport, Kira Douglas and Sarah Panayi, the car arrived in Adelaide on Thursday afternoon, which allowed the team to prepare and start the event.
For the first time the Toyota Kluger Rally SA held a Super Special Stage on tarmac on Friday night which proved a highlight for both the spectators and also the competing crews.
“It was the first time I have driven on an entire tarmac stage,” commented team driver Paul Batten. “It’s very different to the gravel surfaces we spent the rest of the weekend competing on.”
“Even though the Dunlop tyres we were running were designed for the gravel stages, they still gave us the required grip to set a competitive time”.
The fast stages in South Australia caught some crews out but the decision was made by the team early in the weekend to bring the car home in good condition first of all, and with this in mind they took it easy over the first few stages to get the feel of the rally.
Throughout the weekend Batten and co-driver Craig Jones slowly increased their speed, eventually setting several stage times inside the top ten.
“With our regular service crew out of action, Evans Motorsport serviced for us for the entire weekend and the aim was not to give them heartache with our car” Craig Jones added.
Batten and Jones would like to extend once again their gratitude to Evans Motorsport, without whom they would have not been able to compete in the rally.
“We literally thought we where going to be out in the forest spectating on the weekend and to get out there and bring home the challenge win really shows the dedication and support of all involved in preparing and attending an event of this nature,” Jones said.
With the next round of the 2007 NEC Australian Rally Championship only a matter of weeks away, Batten has decided to have the car prepared by Brad Coghlan at Performance Group. This will allow the car and all parts to be in close proximity to Forster.
The Rally of the Great Lakes will be held in Forster on the New South Wales Mid-North Coast on September 15 & 16.