Toyota Genuine Parts driver Harry Bates has won the opening round of the 2018 Australian Rally Championship, giving his new Yaris AP4 car its maiden victory.
Bates and co-driver John McCarthy won both heats of the two-day Eureka Rally in the Ballarat region, claiming 11 of the 15 completed special stages and taking a maximum possible 81 championship points.
It was 22-years-old Bates’ second consecutive Eureka Rally victory, after last year becoming the youngest driver to win an ARC round.
Younger brother Lewis Bates and co-driver Dale Moscatt added to the celebrations in the Neal Bates Motorsport team, finishing fourth overall in the Corolla S2000 formerly driven by father Neal Bates and then Harry.
“What a weekend, we’re over the moon! The team has worked so hard to build the Yaris; it was great to repay them with a win,” Harry Bates said.
“Day one was really tight competition at the front of the field and frankly hard work to win by 2.7 seconds. It was hot and dry, with lots of tyre wear.
“Day two we gained the lead early and could build from there.
“Compared with last year, we were one second per kilometre quicker, which is a big gain. It shows how much better the Yaris AP4 is and how much more competitive the ARC has become.
“The aim when the Yaris concept was hatched at our base in Canberra was to create a more powerful and agile car. Now we can take our learnings from here and do more development for round two in Western Australia.”
Lewis Bates said he had well and truly achieved his goal of completing the full event and setting competitive stage times.
“It was only my second rally in a 4WD and I am learning stage by stage, so fourth outright for the weekend was a bonus,” he said.
“Saturday was especially good, the stages suited me. Sunday was more technical, but that will come with experience.
“The car was faultless; I was so happy with it. Dad was delighted to have both cars finish with strong results.”
The second of six ARC rounds is the Forest Rally in Western Australia on April 27-29.