Australian rally icon Neal Bates has given a fascinating insight into his time in the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) on the latest episode of The ARC Service Park.
Bates touched on a range of topics from the past, present and future of the sport, including being part of an era often regarded as the golden generation of Australian rally.
Bates was no stranger to success in the ARC with the Canberran clinching four titles throughout his time behind the wheel, where he formed a formidable partnership alongside regular co-driver Coral Taylor for Toyota.
The duo won their first title in 1993 and followed it up with another two consecutive titles before breaking a longstanding championship drought with their final title in 2008.
While they did not win any titles during that 12 year drought, the duo came agonisingly close to silverware on many occasions, finishing runner-up seven times – five of which were behind long-time rival and seven-time ARC champion Possum Bourne.
Bates and Taylor regularly found themselves up against some of iconic names of the Australian rally scene during that period with Bourne, Cody Crocker, Simon Evans and Bates winning every title between 1993 to 2010.
However it was that big rivalry with the Subaru representative, and his good friend, in Bourne that often made headlines as both drivers were constantly battling it out for the title.
“It frustrated me a little bit not to beat him all those years. We obviously beat him in 1993 where we led the championship for most of the season but unfortunately that was the year where Roger Freeth (Bourne’s Co-driver) was killed,” Bates said.
“We were incredible fierce rivals during that period, but we were also great friends. We both loved trucks, we both loved rallying and we got on incredibly well. But once they said go, we were rivals again.
“He got the better of me more than I got the better of him, but it was always close.
“It’s easy to look back in hindsight at some of the decisions we made. I have always been loyal person, especially since I have been with Toyota for 30 years.”
Watch the full episode of The ARC Service Park with Neal Bates below.