Harry Bates Looking Forward to ACT Rally

Neal Bates Motorsport Toyota Corolla S2000 rallycar

2017 Forest Rally: Harry Bates and John McCarthy in action during the 2017 Forest Rally.

Toyota Genuine Parts driver Harry Bates will look to fight back in his ‘home’ round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) in the national capital next month.

Bates won the opening round in Victoria, but two tyre punctures and mechanical problems in Sunday’s Heat 2 of the Forest Rally in Western Australia have seen the Corolla driver slip from first to third on points.

Saturday’s Heat 1 in the forests near Busselton was hailed as a great day’s rallying; a see-sawing encounter with four crews winning stages and the rally lead changing five times.

Bates and co-driver John McCarthy finished the heat just 3.1 seconds behind Molly Taylor (Subaru), in a duel of second-generation rally talent.

Harry is the son of Neal Bates and Molly is the daughter of Coral Taylor – Toyota’s four-time national rally champion pair.

Harry Bates won two stages in Heat 1 and two in succession in Heat 2 to close to within six seconds of Taylor before problems occurred.

He rejoined the rally before the final control to secure vital points for seventh place.

“Saturday was a good; a really tight battle all day even though we struggled on a few stages,” Bates said.

“It was great to see my good friend Molly Taylor get a Heat win.

“During the first stage on Sunday morning we had a puncture and lost a bit of time.

“We hoped to make up time, but we then had a second puncture and lost one minute and 20 seconds. We were still trying to recover as much time as we could, but the car came to a halt on Stage 17,” Bates said.

“The Forest Rally is known for ‘ball-bearing’ gravel and that’s an extra factor when you’re the first car on it – in effect you’re sweeping the road.

“As title leaders coming here we knew we would be car 1 and I really enjoyed the challenge.”

The ARC points tally after Forest Rally WA is: Nathan Quinn, 132; Molly Taylor, 126; Harry Bates, 114; and Eli Evans, 104.

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