Lewis, Harry and Neal Bates with the Neal Bates Motorsport S2000 Corolla rally car
A championship-winning Toyota Corolla rally car will take a third member of the Bates family to a new level in this weekend’s Rally Australia.
Lewis Bates, 20, and co-driver Dale Moscatt will crew his father Neal Bates’ 2008 Australian championship winning Corolla S2000 in the final event on the local and world rally calendars.
It is a great opportunity for Lewis, giving him his first rally in a 4WD car and first experience in a world championship event.
The Corolla S2000 is available because elder Lewis’ brother and Toyota Genuine Parts driver Harry Bates, 22, has stepped up to a new 4WD turbocharged Yaris.
Like the Corolla S2000, the Yaris was built at the Neal Bates Motorsport workshop in Canberra, where Lewis Bates works.
The Corolla S2000 has become the rally car that keeps on giving – in Neal Bates’ words “a family heirloom”.
The 190kW car debuted in 2007, the same year Neal received the Confederation of Australian Motorsport’s Phil Irving Award for engineering excellence.
It took him and co-driver Coral Taylor to their fourth national championship in 2008.
In 2009, they won a stage of Rally Australia against factory world-championship cars.
The Corolla was retired to the family shed late in 2009, but returned to action in Harry Bates’ hands in October 2015.
Last year, Harry finished third in the Australian Rally Championship and this year he won two ARC events in the famous Corolla.
Neal Bates said his workshop built five Corolla S2000s, with a sister car driven by Simon Evans in 2008 and three cars sold to competitors in Paraguay.
“This car means a lot to me because we built it, I won a title in it, Harry became the youngest ARC round winner in it and now Lewis will drive it,” Neal Bates said.
Harry Bates recalls being 11 years old when the car was built and recalls the thrill of seeing his father clinch the national title in it.
“I have fond memories of my first ARC event win in essentially a ten-year-old car,” Harry Bates said.
“It’s a really good teaching car and that will serve Lewis well; he has a natural gift behind the wheel.”
Lewis Bates said the car is very special for all three drivers in the family.
“I’m proud that it was built by Neal Bates Motorsport and it’s amazing that it’s still competitive,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed driving it in our test days. Harry came with me in the car for the first test and offered lots of great advice.”
Rally Australia begins in Coffs Harbour on 16 November. Harry Bates will compete in WRC for the first time and Lewis in the ARC.