Bates and McCarthy hit ARC lead in Queensland

Harry Bates Corolla rally car

Harry Bates and John McCarthy on their way to second place at the 2016 International Rally of Queensland

The Toyota Genuine Parts team of Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy now leads the 2016 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) after a hard-fought second place at the weekend’s International Rally of Queensland (June 17-19).

Trailing the eventual winner by less than a minute after close to 200km of competitive stages, the team was happy with its performance in the first ‘endurance’ event of the season, widely regarded as the toughest on the ARC calendar.

Running through the Sunshine Coast hinterland, mainly within the Imbil State Forest about 35km west of Noosa Heads, the rally’s shortest stage is just 5.8km long, with the longest challenging teams over 27.3km of fast and rugged forestry trails.

As well as being round three of the ARC, the Queensland event was also round two of this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), bringing teams and drivers from Europe, China, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand; not to mention a huge TV audience stretching across 120 countries.

In a breakthrough performance Bates and McCarthy took a stage victory against all comers, including the full ARC and APRC fields.

Now sitting 27 points clear at the top of the ARC table with just two rounds remaining, Bates said accurate pace notes and a clear focus in pre-event testing were critical to success in Queensland.

“This rally is a big challenge and definitely busy on the notes, with lots of tightening bends, fast corners and sharp crests,” Harry said.

“We drove a front-wheel drive Corolla in this event last year so I got a feel for the surface, and the all-wheel drive Toyota Genuine Parts Corolla S2000 was a blast to steer here,” he said.

“Day one was basically dry, but day two was diabolically wet; some sections were as slippery as ice. But we were able to maintain our dry stage times, which was amazing,” he said.

Despite the harsh conditions, easy access at the long-running Queensland event allowed hardy spectators to focus on key viewing points like ‘Sterling Crossing’, ‘Casey’s Corner’ and ‘Brownie’s Hairpin’.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor were again victorious in the Classics, winning on both Saturday and Sunday in the Toyota Celica RA40.

Next event in the Australian Rally Championship is the Lightforce Rally SA, to be held 9th – 11th September 2016.

Bates and Taylor secure third successive Classic title

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor sealed their third successive title in the Classic section of the Australian Rally Championship after victory at Rally Australia.

They put on a dominant display from start to finish, winning every stage of the event in their 1980 Toyota Celica RA40, the rally held around the northern NSW town of Coffs Harbour.

The victory meant the duo closed out the 2014 Classic Series, part of the Australian Rally Championship, with one round of the season remaining.

Bates and Taylor have won every classic series title they have entered since 2012, which Neal said was the result of his crew’s hard work and dedication.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to win again and I’m really grateful to the team for the way they prepared the car and set up our service area so professionally, even when the conditions weren’t that helpful,” Bates said. “Once again the car was brilliant to drive all weekend and stood up to some pretty hard punishment, including a lot of big jumps on day one.”

“Rally Australia is a great event to be involved and has a really good buzz because all the World Rally Championship teams are here.”

Taylor said she was delighted to clinch the championship and record another strong victory after overcoming a weekend of mixed conditions. “It’s a great feeling to do it again and we always love competing up here in Coffs Harbour, where we take on some of the best and most satisfying rally roads in the country,” she said.

“We had a bit of everything with the conditions. There was a lot of rain in the region before the event which made the test day very slippery, and then periods of blue skies and lots of dust. We then had another downpour on Friday night which turned the service park into a quagmire.”

“However, the team did a fantastic job giving us such a fast car and we were really pleased to put on a good show in front of so many enthusiastic spectators who seemed to really enjoy the international flavour of the event,” Taylor said.

Look for the Neal Bates Motorsport Celica at the season-ending Rally Victoria on November 14 and 15.

Bates and Taylor win Rally Australia classics

RallyOz_win

“It’s been another perfect weekend for us, the car has been faultless, and I have the team to thank for all their hard work,” said Neal on the podium. “It’s great to be able to drive this car on the same roads as the World Rally Cars, and even better to come away with the win.”

Bates finished ahead of the hard charging Matt Ruggles in the Triumph TR7 and Irish flyer Michael O’Hagon in his Ford Escort.

The Neal Bates Motorsport Celica led from start to finish, with Bates praising the resilience of his Toyota Celica RA40 and his Canberra based team who built it.

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.