Bates and McLoughlin complete WRC debut

Lewis Bates has completed his FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) international debut over the weekend after he and Anthony McLoughlin finished the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Taking place over four days, the fifth round of the 2024 WRC season was held in the picturesque Porto region and was made up of 337 competitive kilometres spread over 22 stages.

Bates and McLoughlin were entered in WRC2 behind the wheel of their new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car, which they will campaign in the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) from next month’s Accent Benchtop Rally Queensland and beyond.

The duo went on to finish the weekend 14th in class and significantly improved as the weekend wore on.

Bates and McLoughlin got off to a decent start to the event, finishing Thursday evening’s opening stage 27th out of 37 crews and just 10 seconds off the leader.


The pair then had a mixed day out on Friday, which included a solid P20 in the morning’s first stage before an electronic throttle system failure caused them to miss out most of Friday’s stages.

With illness also hitting the team on the opening day, it was a tough start to the rally, with Bates and McLoughlin choosing to safely navigate their way forward for the rest of the weekend.

Despite Friday’s setbacks, they kept to the task at hand and began to gain confidence on Saturday, delivering some respectable times.

Starting the day in 31st, the 2022 ARC champions ended up finishing Saturday 13 places higher after posting top 20 times on all the day’s eight stages, their best being a 14th on the second pass of the 37-kilometre Amarante stage.

As a number of crews retired on the final day, Bates and McLoughlin continued to push – picking up a P13 and P12 along the way to eventually finish 14th overall.

See the full Vodafone Rally De Portugal results here.

Bates and McLoughlin are now on their way back to home to Australia for the 2024 Forest Rally, which takes place in and around the forests of Nannup and Busselton on 17-19 May.