WRC

Rally of New Zealand preview

OLD RALLY BATTLE RENEWED. Two of the southern hemispheres most determined opponents will continue a trans-tasman battle during the Rally New Zealand, the 9th round of the FIA World Rally Championship in late July. Australian Toyota rally ...

OLD RALLY BATTLE RENEWED.

Two of the southern hemispheres most determined opponents will continue a trans-tasman battle during the Rally New Zealand, the 9th round of the FIA World Rally Championship in late July.

Australian Toyota rally driver, Neal Bates, drove in the shadow of New Zealand Subaru driver, Possum Bourne, in both the 1996 and 1997 Australian Rally Championship.

And the 33 year old Canberra resident is still battling to overcome this country's favourite rally son in the 1998 season.

"Possum and Neal bring out the best in trans-tasman rivalry and I wasn't surprised whrn Neal's entry arrived," said Clerk of Course, Graeme Robertson.

Several of their battles in the Austraian championship this season have finished with Bourne ahead of Bates by just a few seconds.

"We expect that battle to continue during Rally New Zealand near the end of July and I know we would like Possum to continue his domination in the trans-tasman rivalry," said Robertson.

Bourne, who is still based in Pukekohe and now regarded as one of the most experienced rally drivers in the South Pacific, will again have the services of Hamiltonian, Craig Vincent in the Group A Subatu Impreza.

"He is so keen that he retain his dominance over Bates that he will air freight his Subaru back to New Zealand after his last Australian rally so that he can ensure it will be 100 percent," said Robertson.

"Possurm now 42 years of age, has become the benchmark for New Zealand drivers since he first won the FIA Asia-Pacfic Championship in 1993," he said. "He also wants to maintain his support of Subaru as the leading car in rallying in this part of the world."

Bates will again be co-driven in their Toyota Corolla WRCar by Sydney's Coral Taylor, who has been part of this very successful team since 1993.

"We will be looking forward to these two renewing their rivalry during Rally New Zealand," said Robertson. "It will be one of the highlights for many New Zealanders."

The Rally New Zealand starts at Manukau City with a super special stage Friday July 24 and finishes at the Ti Papa Equestrian Centre near Clevedon on Monday July 27 after competing in the Maramarua Forest. Maungaturoto region and the rugged coast back country roads of the west Waikato area.

Official web site -- http://www.sportsweb.co.nz/rally98/

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Series WRC
Drivers Neal Bates , Coral Taylor