Guest Bounces Back in Forest

Author: Alison Macqueen –

Bates Wins Sixth Quit Forest RallyToyota Racing Development’s Neal Bates has taken his sixth Quit Forest Rally title, in Nannup, Western Australia today. Bates, driving a S2000 Corolla, finished second in Heat One and first in Heat Two, handing him the win ahead of Evans Motorsport’s Eli Evans and Redline Oil’s Alex Stone.

“I’m absolutely delighted, I am obviously very disappointed for Simon and Sue (TRD’s Simon and Sue Evans), they drove exceptionally well and deserved to win but when they stopped we were very happy to pick up the pieces,” said Bates.

“It was a great fight this afternoon with Guesty (Pirtek LWR Rally Team’s Michael Guest) and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

“The team deserve all the accolades here these cars are just absolutely fantastic and they’ve worked incredibly hard in the offs eaon incredibly hard in the months leading up to this event and produced a car that’s ust done it”, Neal

While the win by Bates will be celebrated by the TRD team tonight, it marked the end of a 14 Heat Australian Rally Championship winning streak by his team mate and defending series Champion Simon Evans.

Evans, who took the outright honours in Heat One, succumbed to an engine failure on SS17 today, dropping him out of contention for the rally win for the first time since 2006.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m happy,” said Simon. “Our dream run ended when I was in the lead and we were doing everything right so if you’re ever going to DNF this is the way to do it.”

Evans Motorsport’s Eli Evans has been rewarded for the work he put in over the off season, with his new approach to rallying clear to all across the weekend.

“I’m very happy, we had a bad start yesterday morning so to be second here on the podium is a huge surprise for us but we’ve worked hard and it feels like we’ve deserved it…(going away with a big bag of points),” said Eli Evans.

“We didn’t get the best result here last year, (DNF on stage five) so we came here with the aim to get through it and get some kilometres up and it’s all just fallen to plan.

“We came into it (this rally) with a different approach this year; we traded trying to go flat out everywhere and just go a little bit smarter. Last year there was a whole bunch of drivers that took advantage of us crashing out while we were running ahead of them and this year we’ve been able to do the opposite.”

Third outright for the rally was a great result for local West Australian driver, Redline Oil’s Alex Stone, who admitted even he was surprised to be standing on the podium.

“I’m very surprised, we didn’t want to look at the results…today in case we screwed up so we’ve just kept plugging away and driving,” said Stone.

While Stone stood atop the Quit Forest Rally podium, Activ Rallysport’s Justin Dowel finished third outright for the rally in terms of Championship points, with Stone not registered for the ARC.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic about our result, we had a fantasitc day yesterday and stuck to our game plan,” said Dowel. “Today was bit more difficult we had had a few scary moments in the first stage and backed off a little as we wanted to finish the event with a straight car and prepare for Canberra!

“I’m really happy to be a part of the ARC, it’s taken 3 years of preparation to get us here, and to have this result in the first event is amazing, bring on the rest of the year!

Heat Two Results:

Neal Bates (Toyota Racing Development) 1:07:04.08
Michael Guest (Pirtek LWR Rally Team) 1:07:14.8
Eli Evans (Evans Motorsport) 1:07:59.1
Spencer Lowndes (Access Hardware) 1:08:29.1
Glen Raymond (Raymond Partners Accountants) 1:09:02.9
Roman Watkins (Secure Glass) 1:09:22.0
Alex Stone (Redline Oil) 1:09:38.0
Leigh Hynes (RMS Service Centre) 1:11:34.7
Justin Dowel (Activ Rallysport) 1:11:46.6
Brenton Kaitler (KME RS Rallyesport) 1:12:12.6

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