Harry Bates only began competitively rallying at the start of the season in a front-wheel drive Corolla, before stepping into a full-spec Super 2000 Corolla for his first crack at Scouts Rally SA last year.
“I’m so impressed! The whole idea for him was to learn the car, learn the rally and get it to the finish line in one piece without any dramas,” exclaimed Neal.
“I always knew he’d go alright in that car, he’s proving to be a very fast learner, but I never, ever expected him to go as well as what he did.”
“Particularly on some of those shire stages, which are so fast and so daunting for even the most experienced driver. For Harry to go onto his first shire stage in SA, Benny’s, and to win it, that’s pretty amazing!”
Harry and co-driver John McCarthy produced one of the stand out performances of the year in the car, taking a stage win on just the very second stage, and then a further six over the course of the weekend on their way to second in the 4WD’s.
Neal says that pace aside, to get up to speed on the demanding South Australian roads was one of the most remarkable efforts he’s seen in many years.
“It’s such a difficult rally to learn, on such tricky roads, I’m blown away by what he was able to achieve,” Neal stated. “My whole idea for him doing that rally was just to learn how tough those roads can be, and for him to learn under no pressure, and he came out and did a fantastic job.”
Running on a limited budget in the 2015 season, and sporting a plain white Corolla in South Australia, Neal is realistic about Harry’s chances of vying for outright honours next season if a suitable budget can be sought.
“I would say the aim is to start the Championship and see how he goes from there. I know if you ask Harry he’ll tell you he wants to do all of the Australian Championship Rounds, all the European Championship Rounds, all the World Championship Rounds,” laughed Neal.
“We’ll just have to see how we go between now and the first Round next year in Western Australia, sort out what we can realistically achieve and can afford to do, but hopefully Harry will be at all the Rounds of the ARC next year in this car.”
The first Round of the 2016 Australian Rally Championship is the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia, running from the 22nd to the 24th of April.