1998 Saxon Safari Race Story

POSSUM WINS AUSSIE TITLE. Victory on the Rally of Tasmania today has given Possum Bourne his third consecutive Australian Rally Championship in his Subaru Impreza WRX. With co-driver Craig Vincent, Bourne has taken the title with a round ...

POSSUM WINS AUSSIE TITLE.

Victory on the Rally of Tasmania today has given Possum Bourne his third consecutive Australian Rally Championship in his Subaru Impreza WRX.

With co-driver Craig Vincent, Bourne has taken the title with a round to spare, having wracked up eight consecutive victories over his main rival, Neal Bates.

"Doing the hat-trick is great," said Bourne, "Neal and I have had some close battles this year, but we've always seemed to have found that little bit extra when we needed it."

It was no different over this weekend. Bates led early in Saturday's heat, but Bourne attacked on the event's long 38km stage to make his winning break, coming out on top by just seven seconds.

On Sunday the pair tied on the opening stage and then Bourne went ahead on the second test, but this time he was 25 seconds faster through the long stage to create a larger winning margin which eventually grew to 43 seconds over a disheartened Bates at the finish.

"The team has had the Impreza running like clockwork this year," said Bourne, "and I think the Pirelli tyres have given us an advantage over Neal on some stages. The whole package has worked really well." Bourne started the weekend suffering from a bout of flu, but his continued dominance over Bates saw him finish the event with three sets of celebratory donuts at the final Hobart parc ferme.

Results: Heat 1: 1 - P Bourne, C Vincent (Subaru Impreza WRX) 60m 53s; 2 - N Bates, C Taylor (Toyota Corolla WRC) 61.00; 3 - C Crocker, G Foletta (Subaru Impreza WRX) 65.41.

Heat 2: 1 - P Bourne, C Vincent (Subaru Impreza WRX) 48m 28s; 2 - N Bates, C Taylor (Toyota Corolla WRC) 49.11; 3 - S Reid, A McLaughlin (Subaru Impreza WRX) 52.17.

Overall Points: Bourne 160; Bates 112.

JOHN COKER:

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Series Other rally
Drivers Neal Bates