HARRY BATES CLAWS BACK TIME IN 2018 NATIONAL CAPITAL RALLY

Bates and the Toyota Yaris AP4 win 6 of 15 stages

Third in championship at season mid-point

A hard-charging Harry Bates aggressively clawed back time in yesterday’s second heat of the National Capital Rally after casting aside mechanical issues that dogged him late on Saturday.

Bates and co-driver John McCarthy rejoined the battle in decisive fashion yesterday, winning three of the final six stages in their Toyota Genuine Parts Yaris AP4.

They finished their home rally in fourth position and, at the half-way point of the Australian Rally Championship season, are just 34 points off the series leader in third place.

On Saturday, the Toyota pair pushed hard and won three of the first seven stages, leaving them handily positioned in second, just 17.8 seconds behind the leader.

But a blown turbo cost them substantial time on the final two stages of the day, which saw them slip to sixth before the turbo could be replaced.

Earlier, Harry’s brother Lewis and four-time ARC champion Coral Taylor retired due to engine damage from a broke oil line on their Toyota Corolla S2000 after an awkward landing over a jump.Harry Bates said he remains optimistic about victory in this year’s championship despite disappointment at missing out on back-to-back wins in Canberra.

“We clearly have the pace to challenge for this year’s championship against quality competition – and hopefully we have put our tough luck behind us,” he said.

“It’s amazing that Neal Bates Motorsport, a small Canberra-based team, has put together such a quick car that is taking it up to the international R5 rally cars.”

The Yaris AP4 recorded its first victory in the opening round of the 2018 season in Victoria and took Bates to a spirited second-place fightback during the second round in Western Australia.

The rally championship continues in Tasmania late next month with the fourth of season’s six rounds.

DOUBLE GOLD FOR TOYOTA IN BALLARAT RALLY

Maiden victory for Toyota Genuine Parts Yaris AP4 – Harry Bates wins first round of Australian Rally Championship, with brother Lewis fourth in Corolla

Toyota Genuine Parts driver Harry Bates has won the opening round of the 2018 Australian Rally Championship, giving his new Yaris AP4 car its maiden victory.

Bates and co-driver John McCarthy won both heats of the two-day Eureka Rally in the Ballarat region, claiming 11 of the 15 completed special stages and taking a maximum possible 81 championship points.

It was 22-years-old Bates’ second consecutive Eureka Rally victory, after last year becoming the youngest driver to win an ARC round.

Younger brother Lewis Bates and co-driver Dale Moscatt added to the celebrations in the Neal Bates Motorsport team, finishing fourth overall in the Corolla S2000 formerly driven by father Neal Bates and then Harry.

“What a weekend, we’re over the moon! The team has worked so hard to build the Yaris; it was great to repay them with a win,” Harry Bates said.

“Day one was really tight competition at the front of the field and frankly hard work to win by 2.7 seconds. It was hot and dry, with lots of tyre wear.

“Day two we gained the lead early and could build from there.

“Compared with last year, we were one second per kilometre quicker, which is a big gain. It shows how much better the Yaris AP4 is and how much more competitive the ARC has become.

“The aim when the Yaris concept was hatched at our base in Canberra was to create a more powerful and agile car. Now we can take our learnings from here and do more development for round two in Western Australia.”

Lewis Bates said he had well and truly achieved his goal of completing the full event and setting competitive stage times.

“It was only my second rally in a 4WD and I am learning stage by stage, so fourth outright for the weekend was a bonus,” he said.

“Saturday was especially good, the stages suited me. Sunday was more technical, but that will come with experience.

“The car was faultless; I was so happy with it. Dad was delighted to have both cars finish with strong results.”

The next ARC round is the Forest Rally in Western Australia on April 27-29.

Harry and Lewis Bates fly the local Toyota flag in 2017 WRC Rally Australia

Toyota’s local rally ‘family’, was in action in Rally Australia. Toyota Genuine Parts entry Harry Bates drove a new 4WD Yaris built by his father Neal’s organisation, Neal Bates Motorsport. Younger brother Lewis competed in Neal’s 2008 title-winning Corolla S2000.

Harry Bates began the rally with impressive pace, posting the fastest time of any Australian driver in the first stage, but his rally was sidelined by technical issues.

“Our new Yaris rally car is clearly quick and nimble with great brakes and impressive suspension travel,” he said. “An extensive test program over the summer will ensure the car lives up to its full potential next season.”

Lewis Bates, competing for the first time in a 4WD car, rounded out the event with 13th fastest time against all WRC entries (and second-fastest Australian) in Stage 19 and the 15th overall in the Power stage.

“The whole weekend was about gaining experience through the 320km of competitive driving,” Lewis Bates said.

“I built up confidence on the Friday, lost some time on Saturday replacing a punctured tyre mid-stage and came through very tricky conditions on Sunday morning with the rain storm.

“It was still muddy and slippery when the sun came out, but I am very happy with the stage times we did at the end.”

Famous Rally Corolla: The Car That Keeps On Giving

Lewis, Harry and Neal Bates with the Neal Bates Motorsport S2000 Corolla rally car

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.