Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin have been crowned champions of Australia for the first time after the duo finished on the podium at the Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally.
It’s been an impressive maiden title campaign for Bates and McLoughlin, who claimed their first RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) victory in August this year.
The duo entered the ARC season finale on the picturesque Coffs Coast as outright leaders after picking up a win in South Australia last month, before sealing the deal on Sunday afternoon when their main title rivals and Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Harry Bates and John McCarthy crashed out on the third last stage of the weekend.
While both Harry and McCarthy were ultimately okay from the event, from that moment on, it was just a matter of completing the final two stages for Lewis and McLoughlin, which they did with ease.
Wrapping up the event with the EROAD Power Stage victory, Lewis and McLoughlin went on to finish in second place in the ARC, two and half minutes behind locals Nathan Quinn and David Green.
“I can’t thank the whole team in front of me enough for everything they have done,” Lewis said post-event.
“The GR Yaris has been incredible all year, especially this weekend, it was a tough event, and it has been absolutely faultless.
“I can’t thank everyone that supports us enough and yeah I’m lost for words.
“I think the, the second half of the seasons been very strong for us, I think we have had a really good points all and we have been incredibly consistent. Unfortunate for Harry and John today, something I never want to see and I’m gutted for them.
“Overall, I’m absolutely over the moon.”
Also cross-entered in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) grand finale, Bates ended up steering the Neal Bates Motorsport prepared Toyota GR Yaris AP4 to second place behind New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard.
It was a stellar performance from Paddon in the Hyundai i20 AP4, who dominated Sunday with a clean sweep of stage wins to claim the outright Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally victory and the APRC title for the first time.
“Winning is what we came here to do, it’s a big relief that after all the troubles yesterday. We have had to work for it, but the team has done an awesome job,” Paddon said.
“A thank you to everyone back at home who supported us and it’s been an awesome fight between Harry and Nathan here as well.
“Luckily we have come out the right end. It was hard work but it was worth it.”
As for Quinn, the local favourite enjoyed a solid run and overcame a broken diff to win his first ARC event since Coffs Harbour in 2017.
Quinn also came away with the Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship, beating state competitor Riley Walters and Andrew Crowley in the process, marking a successful day for the 2017 ARC Champion.
Rounding out the podium in the all the NSW, ARC and APRC components of the event was Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt, who in turn finished third on the overall ARC standings behind both Bates brothers.
The Shamrock Motorsport duo ended up edging out the ever-consistent Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb for third place in the ARC component rally, with Dowel sewing fourth place in the ARC over rookie Daniel Gonzalez and co-driver Daymon Nicoli.
With the West Australian also entered in the APRC component, he ended his debut year with fourth place in the international regional championship, capping off an impressive transition into rallying.
Behind him and in seventh for the event overall was young gun Taylor Gill and Daniel Brkic, who were victorious in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
Finishing second in the class and eighth overall were Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney, who beat the ninth placed Ronnie Bustard and Larisa Biggar by just four seconds.
Rounding out the top 10 behind Bustard was young West Australian Max McRae and Mac Kierans.
Missing out on a top 10 finish were local drivers Dean Ridge and Phillip Bonser and South Australians Molly Spalding and Douglas Johnson, however both crews didn’t end the year empty handed.
Both crews took out their respective classes with the 11th placed Dean Ridge winning the Shamrock Haulage ARC 2WD Cup, while Spalding placed 12th overall and with the Glendun ARC Junior Cup.
The final class win for the event saw Ian Griffin and Liam Bainton take out the ARC Classic Cup, beating David Thompson and Matthew Sanders.