Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have won the Classic section of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) at the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia.
In a dominant display the duo raced to victory over the notorious WA gravel, posting times better than those recorded by many of the ARC competitors – including an outright win on Friday’s super special stage.
The four-time national champions currently lead the Classic Championship with a perfect score of 81, which includes a bonus point.
Neal Bates was pleased with his race weekend on the Forest Rally track. “It’s a very tough rally. It’s incredibly slippery with a lot of very loose gravel and it’s very technical, but we really enjoyed it,” Bates said.
Comparing times with the ARC round, the pair’s results over the race weekend would have placed them second outright in Heat One on Saturday, fourth outright in Heat Two on Sunday and third outright overall.
“In the super special we managed to be fastest outright in front of everyone, which was satisfying,” Bates said. “In some of the other stages we were very close which is pretty good for a 30-year-old car. The Celica ran faultlessly the whole weekend.”
Bates and Taylor have won every classic series title they have entered since 2012, something Bates attributes to a great team and the strength of his 3SGE-powered RA40 Toyota Celica.
“We have a great team of people and a car that is reliable and strong. I have an incredibly good navigator and the driver’s alright, too.”
While a convincing victory, the weekend’s racing wasn’t without fault. “We would have won heat one outright, except that I stalled the car in the last stage by accidentally flipping the ignition switch off by mistake,” Bates said.
“I guess that’s what happens when you get old,” he joked.
The near identical sister car to Bates’ RA40, driven by Clay Badenoch and Andrew Dunbar and prepared by Bates Motorsport, claimed second place in the Classic section at the WA rally.
Bates and Taylor will continue their Classic Championship campaign in the RA40 in mid-May on home turf, at the National Capital Rally in Canberra.