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

Bates and Taylor triumphant in 2014 International Rally of Queensland

After winning the 2014 International Rally of Queensland, a happy Neal Bates cheekily said “It’s great for a privateer team like us to be on the podium as winners when you’re up against the Datsun factory team. It’s a dream come true”.

A crank angle sensor failed on Special Stage 4 on Saturday morning, dropping four minutes overall. Catching the new leader, Jack Monkhouse in his Team Datsun Australia 180B, would be a huge ask.

Spectators were treated to an amazing display watching the chase that Neal mounted. The stage times the Celica was recording were often in the top three outright, let alone the fastest in the Classic competition. By the end of Saturday, Neal missed winning the day by only ten seconds.

Sunday saw Bates and Taylor out of the blocks quickly, pulling away from the field of each stage, winning the day and the Classic challenge overall.

Queensland also saw the debut of a second Bates Motorsport-built Celica RA40, in the hands of Clay Badenoch. The new car and driver combination got faster as the weekend progressed, ultimately completing the podium in third place to deliver a 100% record for Bates Motorsport-built Celicas.

“I am so impressed,” said Badenoch. “The car is faster than me, but we will learn to go faster.”

The Neal Bates Motorsport team is now preparing the RA40 Celica for the Scouts Rally SA in August.

Bates takes out Classics at the 2014 National Capital Rally

Neal Bates enjoyed the roads in his hometown of Canberra, taking out both Heats 1 and 2 of the classic competition at the opening weekend of the 2014 Australian Rally Championship, the National Capital Rally.

In Heat 1, Bates brought his Toyota Celica RA40 home almost three minutes ahead of the Porsche 911 of Jeff David and the Nissan Bluebird of Brett Stephens.

“The interesting part of the day was definitely chasing a family of kangaroos for about a kilometre down the stage this afternoon, I’ve never had that happen before,” laughed Bates.

“It’s been a good day, no problems to report. The weather this afternoon made the roads very tricky and obviously a lot of people had issues today, so I’m happy we kept out of trouble to claim the Classics win.”

In Heat 2, Bates continued his form from the first day, heading home to an easy victory in his RA40 Celica, with Jeff David’s Porsche once again in second and the Datsun Stanza of Trevor Stilling third.

“We didn’t have one problem all weekend,” said Bates. “The roads were incredible today, the best I’ve seen them I think ever!”