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.

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.