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.

Toyota Yaris Rally Car for Bates Championship Assault

Harry Bates and his new Toyota Yaris rally carA Toyota Yaris with at least 300hp (224kW) will be the new mount for emerging rally star Harry Bates when he completes his challenge for this year’s Australian Rally Championship (ARC).

Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM) is building the Yaris to AP4 regulations at its Canberra-based motorsport facility.

Compared with the S2000 Corolla that has served the young Bates so well, the Yaris – in compliance with the category rules – will be turbocharged instead of naturally aspirated and offer more suspension travel and a lower centre of gravity.

“Having a new rally car will be amazing – I expect it to be faster than the current car,” said Harry, who is leading this year’s championship by three points.

“Even so, I have a steep learning curve with the new car, so I’m not expecting to jump in and be up to speed right off the bat.

“However, by Rally Australia in November, I’d expect to be in a good position to fight for the championship in the new car.”

Bates, son of four-time ARC champion Neal, said he understood the challenge of moving to a new car, but said it seemed like the right thing to do.

“At the end of the day, I have full faith in the team from Neal Bates Motorsport. Dad and his team have always built amazing cars and this one will be no exception.”Neal Bates Motorsport Yaris rally car under construction

Bates has impressed in his short rally career, winning the Future Star Award in 2015 from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.

Last year, he and co-driver John McCarthy placed third in the championship in their Toyota Genuine Parts S2000 Corolla.

This year, on his way to leading the championship, he became the youngest winning driver in ARC history by taking out Victoria’s Eureka Rally in March.

He followed up with a dominant performance in his “home” rally in Canberra, winning seven of the 13 completed stages.

Neal Bates describes the Yaris project, which is the latest in a long series of rally cars he has built, as a “labour of love – and stress”.

“The Yaris will be a very exciting car. I think Harry has done exceptionally well in the S2000, which is a 10-year-old car. The Yaris will be at a higher level; it bodes very well for the future.”

During the 1990s, Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor developed and ran a succession of World Rally Championship (WRC)-spec Celica GT-Fours, before switching to the Corolla WRC in 1997.

In conjunction with Toyota Australia, Bates developed a Corolla Group N (Prototype) that made its full-time debut in 2003 and led to two drivers’ championships and two manufacturers’ titles.

NBM developed the Corolla S2000 alongside the Corolla Group N (P), before the team switched to running two Corolla S2000s in 2008. Despite the new equipment, Bates claimed his fourth drivers’ crown and Toyota its third manufacturers’ title.

Neal Bates is an integral part of the Toyota 86 Racing Series, an affordable, grassroots motorsport series based on the popular Toyota 86 coupe that is raced exclusively at selected Supercars events.

He worked with a range of specialists to develop a high-performance, low-cost mandatory race package for the series that is designed to be affordable, fast and durable.

Toyota Australia has marked the brand’s return to the WRC this year by signing on as a leading sponsor of the final round, Rally Australia, which takes place around Coffs Harbour in November.

TOYOTA YARIS AP4 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 300hp+ (224kW+) 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Driveline: Six-speed sequential gearbox, all-wheel drive
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front and rear, MCA dampers
  • Weight: 1230kg (minimum weight)
  • Brakes: AP Racing 300mm rotors, four-pot callipers
  • ECU: Motec M150, power management system and C125 display/logger
  • Wheels: Speedline gravel 15″ x 7″

Harry Bates Victorious in 2017 Rally of Canberra

Bates S2000 CorollaToyota Genuine Parts Corolla driver Harry Bates has regained the lead in the Australian Rally Championship by winning the 2017 National Capital Rally.

Bates and co-driver John McCarthy overcame rough roads and unexpected heavy rain to finish almost 90 seconds ahead of Subaru’s Molly Taylor, with Mitsubishi’s Mick Patton third overall.

He now leads the series from Taylor by 195 to 192 points after the third of five rounds in this year’s championship.

Bates led the event from the start, only relinquishing top spot once to Taylor after the second stage. Regaining the lead in stage three, Bates was not headed again. He claimed seven of the 13 completed special stages – a total of 212km of competitive driving – to secure a bonus point for the most stage wins.

Autumn sunshine greeted competitors for Heat 1 on Saturday, with Bates winning five of the day’s eight special stages to beat previous series leader Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi) by 16.3 seconds, with Taylor third.

Bucketing rain provided a new challenge as the rally moved into the Brindabella Mountains for Heat 2, with conditions forcing organisers to cancel the penultimate stage.

The win was particularly satisfactory given the testing conditions, with wet weather forcing the cancellation of Special Stage 13, but also in light of the problems that affected Bates’ S2000-spec Toyota Corolla in the previous round in Western Australia.

“We all worked really hard in the preparation; the guys in the workshop as well as John and I studying the videos of last year’s event,” he said.

“The roads were especially rough this year; a number of crews suffered suspension problems, but our Corolla with Toyota Genuine Parts was strong to the end.

“We overcame an early problem on Saturday to win three stages in a row in the afternoon, building a 16-second lead, so we were very happy.

“On Sunday morning, rain in the Brindabella’s was a real challenge, a balancing act between protecting the rally lead and not being too conservative or losing concentration.”

The National Capital Rally also saw Harry’s brother Lewis and his father Neal, a four-time ARC title-holder, competing in different classes.

Lewis Bates (Toyota Corolla) was forced to retire while Neal Bates and co-driver Coral Taylor, in their Toyota Celica RA40, won 11 of the 13 special stages in the Classic category.

However, a wheel alignment problem on Saturday afternoon cost them any hope of an overall victory.

Round four of the national championship will be held in South Australia’s Barossa Valley from September 15-17.