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″

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.

Neal Bates Motorsport win 2014 Scouts Rally SA Classics

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have again dominated the weekend in the Classics, winning all three heats over the weekend at Scout’s Rally SA in the Toyota Celica RA40.

“It’s been a tough rally, with the very wet weather conditions on Friday and Saturday. On paper it looks like we won by a lot but things weren’t perfect for us. The quality of the Classics this weekend has been excellent, with a couple of Celicas, an Audi Quattro, a Falcon GTHO, a Porsche, a Merc, a Volvo, all sorts of brands, all sorts of types, and we’re all out there having fun,” said Neal.

Next round of the championship is Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour held 11th – 14th September 2014.

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!”