Last year was a watershed for his rally career. In a three way tussle to win the title at the last event, Bates ultimately finished 3rd outright after a flat tyre ended his chances of a win in his first full season of rallying and his maiden ARC title assault.
“Our 2016 season was amazing. To be in a tussle for the national title at the final event was beyond what I expected. It was so close and yet so far.” Bates said
Over the off season, the team have rebuilt the Toyota Genuine Parts sponsored Corolla 4WD, a car built by Toyota Australia/Neal Bates Motorsport for the 2008 ARC chase. The car has proven it is still competitive against last year’s cars but with the debut of the new AP4 specification car by Eli Evans in the Eureka Rally, Bates will be keen to see what happens.
“It will be an interesting battle – Eli has a new car and I think it will be quick. Reigning champion Molly Taylor also has a new car, so I expect her to be pushing for the win as well, and of course Nathan Quinn will be doing the same. It’s going to be tough!” he [Bates] commented.
The event will also be a big one for the Bates family, as Harry’s younger brother Lewis, will make his rally debut in the Eureka Rally. Lewis, who works for Neal Bates Motorsport, will drive the Toyota Corolla front wheel drive used by Harry to start his career. Lewis will be partnered by co-driver Anthony McLoughlin.