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Mazda’s Targa Team Moves up the Leaderboard
Apr 18, 2008

Day 2 – Launceston – St Helens – Launceston (8 stages over 72km)

Day Two and Mazda’s two-pronged Targa Tasmania attack picked up momentum as star drivers Rick Bates and Alister McRae homed in on a top ten prize.

Bates and McRae cemented their first and second positions, respectively, in the 2WD Showroom Competition, widening the gap to the third-placed TRD Aurion of reigning Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans, despite a mechanical hiccup on McRae’s car.

Bates and co-driver Rhianon Smyth had a stellar day with flawless runs through the greasy morning and flowing afternoon stages to finish 17th outright according to provisional results, up seven places from his Day One finishing position.

Bates’ clinical dissection of today’s eight competitive stages further enhanced his standing as fastest in the 2WD Showroom Competition, and showed the Mazda3 MPS is a true challenger to the more fancied AWD rally machines. Bates is just three seconds behind the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO leading the 4WD Showroom Competition after 800km of driving.

“No problems today, everything seemed to run to the script and I think we made up time on a few people. Obviously Alister had a problem in the first stage but after that we traded fastest times on the other stages. In fact I’m going to have to pick up the pace to keep the quick Scot behind me.”

Bates and Smyth are just 1min 53sec outside the top ten, and a comfortable 49sec in front of the modified Toyota TRD Aurion of his twin-brother Neal. The event’s overall leader is Steve Glenney in a rally-prepared Mitsubishi Evo 9, 3min 52 seconds ahead of Bates.

McRae’s day got off to a bumpy start; his Mazda3 MPS blew a water hose in the first and tricky Sideling stage that’s considered by many to be one of the most challenging in the event.

McRae had to nurse the car through the stage as the engine temperature rose, losing 43 seconds in total, before having the hose refitted at the end of the stage by the service crew.

The rest of McRae’s day was exemplary as the canny Scot settled into the car and the course, swapping fastest times with his team-mate on the seven other stages. McRae is only 51sec behind his team-mate in the 2WD Showroom class.

“Yeah it was a good day, but not perfect. Obviously we had a water hose blow off this morning and the engine was running hot but the strength of the Mazda engine kept it running and we picked up the pace in the afternoon to finish strongly.

“Rick and I are first and second in the showroom which is the main thing.”

The overall honours for Day Two went to Bates who set the fastest front-wheel drive time on four of the eight competitive stages. McRae took the honours on three and they tied the final Longford town stage completing a clean sweep for Mazda Motorsport.

 • 

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