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

Bates and Taylor win Rally Australia classics


“It’s been another perfect weekend for us, the car has been faultless, and I have the team to thank for all their hard work,” said Neal on the podium. “It’s great to be able to drive this car on the same roads as the World Rally Cars, and even better to come away with the win.”

Bates finished ahead of the hard charging Matt Ruggles in the Triumph TR7 and Irish flyer Michael O’Hagon in his Ford Escort.

The Neal Bates Motorsport Celica led from start to finish, with Bates praising the resilience of his Toyota Celica RA40 and his Canberra based team who built it.

Harry Bates impresses on rally debut

Neal Bates admitted he was ‘blown away’ by his son Harry’s performance as stand-in co-driver during their victory in the International Rally of Queensland at the weekend.
The father-son duo won all but one stage of the rally’s classic section in their 1980 Toyota Celica RA40 to beat their nearest rival by more than five-and-a-half minutes.

Bates said Harry had delivered his pace notes efficiently despite it being his first competition rally. “I didn’t expect him to do so well,” he said. “I had hoped it would be a good learning experience but he really impressed me and showed he did his homework.

“The conditions were pretty tough too with overnight rain making the roads quite slippery.”
Harry prepared for the rally under the tutelage of Bates’ long-time co-driver and four-time national champion Coral Taylor, who was unable to participate in the event due to a commitment in Europe.

The 18-year-old said Taylor’s expert guidance prepared him for what was an initially daunting but memorable experience. “I can’t thank Coral enough for all she did,” he said. “I went into it with a good idea of preparing and calling out pace notes and just generally being organised. “Even still, I felt a little bit of pressure when I got in the car on Saturday morning!”

He said the slipperier surface on Sunday only added to the exhilaration of riding as a passenger in the thoroughbred Celica with his four-time national champion father. “It was great fun and pretty amazing to be out in the car with dad,” he said. “I did grab the door handle pretty tight a few times though on Sunday!”

Harry, who will finish high school this year, said he hoped to get another opportunity to co-drive, but he was not about to take Taylor’s seat.

“After 20 years and four national championships it’s going to be a bit hard to do that!” he said.
“I would also like to get into the driving side so I’ll chat to dad about that, too.”

Bates a dominant winner at Rally SA

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor won every stage in the classic competition of Rally SA at the weekend, earning their first championship points for the 2013 season.

The four-time national champions wasted no time in asserting their authority in their return to the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) following last month’s victory in the International Classic Rally of Otago in New Zealand.

They won Saturday’s Heat 1 convincingly and were at times as fast as the outright 2WD ARC contenders.

Bates said he was thrilled by the performance of his 1980 Toyota Celica RA40 on Rally SA’s fast, flowing stages.

“I love this rally – the roads and conditions are always great through the forest, and the car is fantastic to drive there,” Bates said.

“We eased back a touch on Sunday after changing the diff in the morning, but all in all it was an excellent weekend.”

Taylor said the victory had provided a welcome injection of championship points in the race for the Australian Classic Rally Challenge title.

“It’s nice to open our account for the season with such a healthy point score after we didn’t pick up anything in Canberra and skipped Perth,” she said.

“Rally SA was great fun and the roads were really good to drive after the rain settled them down in the days leading up to the start.

“We’re now looking forward to heading up to Queensland to add a few more points to the tally.”

Rally Queensland runs from July 12-14.