Bates & Lexus switch to Michelin for Targa Tasmania Rally Tusesday, April 2: Former Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has switched to Michelin tyres on the works-supported Lexus IS200 he will race in this month's Targa Tasmania tarmac ...
Bates & Lexus switch to Michelin for Targa Tasmania Rally
Tusesday, April 2: Former Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates has switched to Michelin tyres on the works-supported Lexus IS200 he will race in this month's Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
The Canberra-based driver and navigator Coral Taylor finished fourth outright in the modified Lexus in Targa 2001 on Bridgestone rubber.
They will contest the Demonstration Class of this year's event from April 16-21 on French-designed and manufactured Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 17-inch tyres.
Bates tested the tyres on the Lexus at the Wakefield Park circuit near Goulburn on March 27, and said they should prove suitable for Targa.
"These new Michelins allow us to carry good car speed and they are also excellent for durability, which is what you need for Targa where conditions vary from day to day," said Bates.
Bates and Taylor, team-mates for nine years, are among the best credentialed entries for Targa, winning the event in 1995 as well as claiming three Australian Rally Championship titles for Japanese manufacturer Toyota. They raced on Michelin tyres in the ARC from 1998-2001.
The Bates-Taylor Lexus is powered by a normally-aspirated four-cylinder, two-litre engine which produces about 200-horsepower. The car was rebuilt earlier this year and they drove it to ninth place in Rally Tasmania as part of their preparation for Targa.
"It's not the most powerful car you will see at Targa, but it's reliable and it comes into its own on the tight, twisty stages such as The Sideling," said Bates.
"We have an experienced rallying team, and good support from Lexus, and that enables us to get the best possible performance out of the car and cause some surprises."
Lexus Marketing Manager Steve Watt said competing in Targa was now an important part of the Japanese manufacturer's promotional strategies in Australia.
"This will be our fourth year with an official entry in Targa, and Neal and Coral always do an outstanding job," said Watts.
"I think the fans like to see the Lexus getting in there and mixing it up with the bigger cars."
Lexus has also entered a second IS200 in the Showroom class, to be raced by Network Ten executives David White and Scott Young.
More than 280 entries have been received for Targa, including defending champion Jim Richards in a turbo Porsche 911, nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock and V8 Supercar driver Steven Richards in works V8 Holden Monaros, Rick Bates in a factory-supported Mazda RX-7, and Nations Cup leader Paul Stokell of Tasmania in a Volkswagen Beetle RSi.
The event is contested in four competitions - Shannons Historic, Shannons Touring Classic, Classic, and Modern.
Targa Tasmania is owned and produced by global sports marketing company Octagon Worldwide, the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest advertising and marketing communications groups.