This year’s Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) runner-up Lewis Bates may not have won the 2023 title, but he certainly capped off the year with an unforgettable experience.
Bates and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin missed out on claiming back-to-back titles by the smallest of margins following a thrilling EROAD Power Stage at last month’s Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra.
With the dust settled on an epic season finale in Canberra, Bates was offered the unique chance to drive a Rally1 car, with the 2022 champion jumping on a plane bound for the United Kingdom, where he linked up with Luke Anear and international rally outfit, M-Sport.
Bates, Anear and co-driver Malcolm Read then spent a full day in the picturesque Greystoke Forest with M-Sport, enjoying time behind the wheel of the team’s FIA World Rally Championship specification Ford Fiesta Rally1 hybrid car, with Bates spending the most time in the car.
Anear and Read eventually wrapped up the day’s testing in the WRC’s latest car, completing some vital testing on some tarmac surfaces.
Following on from the rare opportunity driving a Rally1 car with the top tier team, Bates was in awe of the experience and was grateful to Anear for his assistance in making it a reality.
“The experience was mind blowing. We started testing at 8am and finished in the dark at 5.30pm,” Bates said.
“I knew the Rally1 car was going to be fast, but until you get behind the wheel of one, it’s hard to comprehend.
“The power with the hybrid is just incredible, the whole car does everything very well – they are amazing machines.
“I can’t thank Luke and SafetyCulture enough for the incredible opportunity, as well as the team at M-Sport for doing a great job getting me up to speed. I felt comfortable straight away so a big thank you to them.
“I learned so much from the whole experience and loved every second of it. I would love to do something overseas next year, but let’s see what happens.”