As well as being round three of the ARC, the QLD event was also round two of this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), bringing teams and drivers from Europe, China, India, Japan and New Zealand.
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 two rounds remaining, Bates paid tribute to his team and the strength of the Toyota Corolla S2000.
“I’m really happy with this result! It reflects a strong weekend for us - we had consistent pace and posted stage times that we can be proud of. The team has worked hard since the last event to give us an amazing car once again. It took everything we threw at it,” Harry said.
Running through the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the changeable weather and extreme rainfall made for a particularly difficult event. The team saw the conditions as an opportunity to gain valuable learning experience, with 21 year-old Bates having never competed in the wet previously.
“The roads were incredibly slippery. On day two, sections were diabolical, but they were actually lots of fun in places. I learnt about getting the most out of the car in wet conditions, as well as getting the most out of myself,” he said.
For McCarthy, the 2016 running of the QLD event was the fifteenth time he had lined up at his home rally. This year’s conditions were the most difficult he’s seen.
“It’s always been a tough rally, but the roads were really difficult on the weekend. The grip was so unpredictable, but the pace was still on at the front, so we were forced to keep pushing hard,” John said.
“It was a strong weekend for us. Being in the lead of an Australian Championship is new territory for both Harry and I, but it’s a nice position to be in! We have some tough opponents going in to the final two rounds, so we are expecting a big fight,” he said.