Taylor and Bates Inducted to the Motorsport Hall of Fame

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor inducted into the Motorsport Hall of Fame

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor, with Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb (centre) at the induction ceremony.

Toyota’s four-time national rally champions Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have been inducted into the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame during a gala dinner in Melbourne.

Launched in 2016, the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame recognises achievement across motor racing, motorcycling, rallying, off-road, drag racing, karting and speedway.

Bates is one of only five rally drivers inducted since the Hall of Fame was created, while Taylor is the first woman and first co-driver to be included in the current list of 51 inductees.

Bates and Taylor have represented Toyota in Australia for 25 years, winning the Australian Rally Championship in 1993, 94, 95 and 2008, as well as Targa Tasmania in 1995 and the 2012 Australian Classic Rally Championship.

They also competed in World Rally Championship events for Toyota Team Europe.

Chairman of the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame Garry Connelly said it is fitting that multiple championship winners like Neal and Coral, who have also done much to increase the profile of rallying in Australia, should be inducted.

“Their places – with Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray, Ross Dunkerton, Colin Bond and Possum Bourne – as icons of rallying in this country are well deserved,” he said.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said Bates and Taylor have been the company’s flag bearers in motor sport for a quarter of a century, and continue to contribute as both ambassadors and on the technical side.

“Neal Bates Motorsport developed the performance kit used in our Toyota 86 Racing Series, while Neal’s son Harry last weekend recorded his first national rally championship victory in Victoria,” Mr Cramb said.

“They must surely be one of the most enduring rally driver/co-driver pairings anywhere in the world.”

Bates said it was an honour to be recognised.

“I am proud of what we’ve achieved as a team,” he said. “The focus is often on the driver, but it is a team effort – from Coral’s vital role with the pace notes to the service crew.

“I have been fortunate to have Toyota’s backing and some very good people around me for many years.”

Coral Taylor said it was a special honour to be the first woman inducted.

“I was totally surprised to get the notification letter,” she said. “I’ve had the privilege of sitting beside the driver I consider to be the best in Australia for the last 25 years.

“Toyota has been part of our lives through it all and still is, with classic rallies and ambassadorial functions like this week’s launch for the new season of the Toyota 86 Racing Series.

“The amazing part for me is that I didn’t set out to do it. I did one rally with my father (Norm Fritter) in 1979. That grew into a serious hobby and then a career,” she said.

Coral Taylor

Coral Taylor

Neal Bates

Neal Bates

Harry Bates wins opening round of the 2017 Australian Rally Championship

20/3/2017

Harry Bates Corolla S2000 rallycar

Toyota’s Harry Bates has become the youngest driver ever to win a round in the Australian Rally Championship by taking out Victoria’s Eureka Rally, the opening round of the 2017 season.

Bates, 22, from Canberra and co-driver John McCarthy in the Toyota Genuine Parts Corolla were part of a three-way duel over two days and 18 competitive stages totalling 220km around Ballarat.

Harry bates and John McCarthy after winning the 2017 Eureka Rally

Harry Bates, John McCarthy and the Toyota Genuine Parts S2000 Corolla, winners of the 2017 Eureka Rally.

Bates won the first day by 14.8 seconds, with just 7.9 seconds covering the top three competitors over the two-day event.

Nathan Quinn was second in a Mitsubishi and Eli Evans third in a Peugeot.

Bates’ win, with six stage victories, came on the birthday of his father and crew chief, four-times national rally champion Neal Bates.

“It was a full-on contest between the three of us from the first stage, with the overall lead swapping around stage by stage,” Harry Bates said.

“The roads were very dusty and the battle was intense with the result in the balance until the very end, which makes it even more rewarding to come out on top and record the win.

“My co-driver John McCarthy and the whole team did a great job; and the win was even better since Sunday was Dad’s birthday as well.”

Family celebrations were tempered by desperately bad luck for Harry Bates’ younger brother Lewis, whose Corolla was destroyed.

Lewis Bates burnt rallycar

“Lewis went off the road at a crest and the car became stuck in soft sand,” Harry Bates said. “Then it caught fire and burned to the ground. We’re all devastated for him.”

The next event on the Australian Rally Championship calendar is the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Western Australia from April 21 to 23.

Toyota motorsport: In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial. This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship (WRC), World Endurance Championship (WEC) which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally. Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia’s premier grassroots circuit-racing category.

Bates and McCarthy Take Third in 2016 Australian Rally Championship

harry02coffsA fighting third place finish in the fifth and final round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) has netted the Toyota Genuine Parts team of Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy third overall in the 2016 title race.

Three minutes clear of their nearest competitor at the beginning of the rally’s final day, Bates and McCarthy were running to a conservative strategy with victory in sight when a puncture brought their championship hopes undone.

“We were happy with our pace, and had built a healthy lead going into the last day when a stray rock caused the front right tyre to explode,” Harry said.

“Changing it lost us a lot of time, compounded by the fact the shredded tyre split the brake line, so we had no brakes to finish the long (30km) stage, and ultimately lost five minutes,” he said.

Despite the final day drama, the team’s third place Rally Australia finish meant they took third in the title race with just eight points covering the top three ARC places.

Rally Australia centres on Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales north coast with 23 competitive stages covering a mix of shire roads and private trails, from the Woolgoolga hinterland to the north and as far south as Bowraville and Nambucca Heads.

The event combines international entrants from the World Rally Championship (WRC) with ARC competition, and Bates was excited to mix it with the best drivers on the planet, including now four-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier.

“Competing with the WRC field this weekend was very exciting. My ultimate goal is to step up and compete at the top level, so to mix it with my heroes was special,” Harry said.

“Obviously, we’re bitterly disappointed to miss the win this weekend, but we’ve learned a lot this year, and running so consistently at the front of the field has been amazing; we’re full of optimism for 2017,” he said.

Harry’s S2000 Corolla was the very car in which his father Neal and Coral Taylor won their fourth Australian Rally Championship in 2008.

The ARC finish podium at the World Rally Championship event was a family affair, with Coral Taylor and Harry Bates’ father Neal winning their fourth Classic championship in a 1980 Toyota Celica world rally replica and, of course, Coral’s daughter Molly winning both the round and the 2017 ARC championship.

Now it’s all hands on deck back at the workshop in Canberra to prepare for an exciting start to the 2017 season!

Concept Yaris AP4 rally car

Bates and McCarthy hit ARC lead in Queensland

Harry Bates Corolla rally car

Harry Bates and John McCarthy on their way to second place at the 2016 International Rally of Queensland

The Toyota Genuine Parts team of Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy now leads the 2016 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) after a hard-fought second place at the weekend’s International Rally of Queensland (June 17-19).

Trailing the eventual winner by less than a minute after close to 200km of competitive stages, the team was happy with its performance in the first ‘endurance’ event of the season, widely regarded as the toughest on the ARC calendar.

Running through the Sunshine Coast hinterland, mainly within the Imbil State Forest about 35km west of Noosa Heads, the rally’s shortest stage is just 5.8km long, with the longest challenging teams over 27.3km of fast and rugged forestry trails.

As well as being round three of the ARC, the Queensland event was also round two of this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), bringing teams and drivers from Europe, China, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand; not to mention a huge TV audience stretching across 120 countries.

In a breakthrough performance Bates and McCarthy took a stage victory against all comers, including the full ARC and APRC fields.

Now sitting 27 points clear at the top of the ARC table with just two rounds remaining, Bates said accurate pace notes and a clear focus in pre-event testing were critical to success in Queensland.

“This rally is a big challenge and definitely busy on the notes, with lots of tightening bends, fast corners and sharp crests,” Harry said.

“We drove a front-wheel drive Corolla in this event last year so I got a feel for the surface, and the all-wheel drive Toyota Genuine Parts Corolla S2000 was a blast to steer here,” he said.

“Day one was basically dry, but day two was diabolically wet; some sections were as slippery as ice. But we were able to maintain our dry stage times, which was amazing,” he said.

Despite the harsh conditions, easy access at the long-running Queensland event allowed hardy spectators to focus on key viewing points like ‘Sterling Crossing’, ‘Casey’s Corner’ and ‘Brownie’s Hairpin’.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor were again victorious in the Classics, winning on both Saturday and Sunday in the Toyota Celica RA40.

Next event in the Australian Rally Championship is the Lightforce Rally SA, to be held 9th – 11th September 2016.