West Australian local Brad Markovic jumped to third after stage four, while Evans slipped to seventh due to an issue with the inlet manifold sensor on the Peugeot 208 MAXI.
With his problems rectified, Evans made a spectacular recovery in special stage five, setting the fastest time but it was Bates that grabbed the overall lead from Taylor in second and Markovic in third.
By the end of special stage six, Bates and Taylor had traded places again, with Taylor’s Subaru Impreza WRX Sti leading the Bate’s Toyota Corolla S2000 by just 2.4 seconds.
Forest Rally debutant Marcus Walkem has had a solid morning, moving to third in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, closely followed by Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn. Markovic rounds out the top five.
Special stages seven to ten take place this afternoon to complete heat one. Heat two takes place tomorrow.
ARC Top 10 (end of SS6)