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.

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

Great result for Harry Bates in 2015 Rally SA

Harry Bates in the NBM Corolla S2000

Harry Bates in the NBM Corolla S2000

Continuing his stellar rise, Harry Bates had a great weekend in the 2015 Rally SA, coming second overall in the 4WD class.

Having started the weekend with testing in mind, Bates went on to claim a spectacular debut Heat win. “It’s been an amazing weekend! We came in to learn as much as we could and the win is a bonus I suppose.”

Having burst onto the season at the 2015 National Capital Rally in Canberra, where he claimed third outright on only his third ever rally, Harry continues to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious father Neal Bates.

Harry tested the Super 2000 spec Toyota Corolla in the lead up to the recent Coates Hire Rally Australia, with a chance of stepping into the car on a more permanent basis next season.

“That’s the plan, to use it in some form next year,” explained Harry. “But after Rally Australia it was decided it made sense to use South Australia as a bit of an extended test session, to give me time in the car at an ARC level event.”

With just fifty kilometres of prior testing in the car under his belt, second place was an amazing result. It was Harry’s first first time competitively in a car that fast and his first time in a four-wheel drive rally car!