Home town hero Harry Bates has won Canberra’s National Capital Rally in style today, completing a clean sweep of heats one and two to take out round three of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC).
The win puts Toyota Genuine Parts’ Bates three points clear of friend and rival Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor, who posted a solid performance to claim second outright, finishing one minute, 23 seconds behind Bates.
Rounding out the podium was another Canberra local, Mick Patton. Patton and co-driver Bernie Webb were the surprise packet of the round, returning to the the Australian Rally Championship after a seven-month break from the sport.
Bates and co-driver John McCarthy led the event from the start, only relinquishing top spot once to Taylor after the second stage. Regaining the lead in stage three the pair never looked back; but Bates said the win today was anything but easy.
“It’s never nice when you are in the lead by nearly a minute and you are having all the elements thrown at you and today exactly that happened,” Bates said.
“But I’m stoked to bring it home; we decided to go out on the last few stages and have a crack and see if we could bring it home in style.
“We are over the moon, the whole team, to come back like this after WA and take the win. It’s great for John, great for myself, great for then whole team…we will celebrate well tonight.”
Taylor, with co-driver Bill Hayes, was more than happy with today’s hard-fought second position.
“It’s incredibly tight, incredibly exciting. This rally was the toughest rally we have done so far this year. We all worked really hard for it.
“Both days have been completely different for us; the first day we were pushing with everything we had and today with all the attrition it was really about driving a smart rally, take it back a step and drive with our heads,” Taylor explained.
Of Bates, Taylor said: “Harry drove incredibly well, he deserved it and we are really happy to finish second.”
Repco Rally Team’s Mick Patton and Bernie Webb took today’s surprise podium in their stride.
“We didn’t really have any expectations for the weekend and that’s probably why we found a bit of pace,” said Patton.
“It’s good not having the pressure like the other teams and on home soil, we know the tracks a little bit as well…we had a really great weekend and lots of fun being back in the car which was the main focus for the weekend so this is big bonus.”
Patton and Webb have had a year-long break from the ARC due to family commitments, only competing in a handful of events last year; this year it has been a complete hiatus from the sport.
Asked if today’s podium result would tempt them to make a comeback in the ARC, Patton said: “I’d love to do more but I just have a massive time restraint unfortunately but it was great and I think our success this weekend was all about not being too concerned with results and just having some fun.”
The National Capital Rally was cruel to a number of the ARC front runners; Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn and David Calder battled through heat two after suffering two flat tyres on today’s second stage, even posting the fastest time on the final stage, only to suffer mechanical issues on the return to the service park, robbing them of any points from heat two.
Tankformers’ Eli Evans was another hard luck story; Evans and co-driver Glen Weston posted the fastest time on today’s second stage, only to break a control arm on the next stage. The pair were able to make the final control to salvage some points from the day.
The ARC Classic class was won by Jandal Sport’s Brett Stephens and Tony Brandon; ARC2 was won by Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell.
Round four of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship will visit South Australia; the Lightforce Rally SA on 15-17 September 2017.
Round 3, CAMS ARC - Top 10
1. BATES/McCARTHY 2:21:16.5
2. TAYLOR/HAYES 2:22:40.2
3. PATTON/WEBB 2:25:47.5
4. SULLENS/NEWELL 2:27:43.9
5. BROOKS/GLENNEY 2:30:19.8
6. MARKOVIC/FEAVER 2:30:47.8
7. HIGGS/NICOLI 2:32:26.1
8. PENNY/PENNY 2:32:44.9
9. DUNN/NEAGLE 2:39:24.9
10. O’DOWD/SHEIL 2:41:08.0