Reigning RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship winners Harry Bates and John McCarthy made a successful return to action with a win in NSW’s first state Championship event, with Toyota teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin finishing second.
The pair were among a number of ARC regulars taking part in the MTA Motorsport Australia NSW Rally Championship season opener, the AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay.
The older of the Bates pair, Harry, led from start to finish alongside co-driver McCarthy, with the pair edging out their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia counterparts by more than a minute over the seven stages. With an impressive field on display featuring plenty of local and national talent, Bates and McCarthy still managed to win every stage in their first event since the AGI Sport’s Adelaide Hills Rally in September last year.
Western Victorian Crane Trucks’ Darren Windus and Joe Brice claimed the final spot on the podium in their freshly painted Subaru WRX, while Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston finished fourth and Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis rounded out the top five in their familiar AGI Sport Ford Fiesta R5.
White Wolf Racing’s Clarke and Preston, who are no strangers to ARC themselves, were the fastest of the NSW Championship contenders and were understandably pleased by their opening round performance.
“It was a bit of a rough day, and the car didn’t do everything it needed to do, but we’ll take that,” Clarke said.
“We just pushed on as hard as we could with what we’ve got and the day looks like it paid off.”
In the 2WD class, Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell saluted in their Citroen DS3 – and also finished 6th overall in an impressive performance.
“Wow, is all I can say,” Sullens said.
“It’s the best field we’ve ever seen in a state rally in the history of Australian rallying I reckon and I’ve driven as fast as I’ve ever driven in all my life today. I’m really happy and rewarded, and found new levels of comfort so it’s good.”
Shamrock Motorsport’s Richie Dalton and Dale Moscatt were notable casualties during the event, with the duo coming unstuck earlier in the day and finding a tree in their Ford Fiesta G4.
A total of 85 crews made up the popular event’s entry list, with organisers working with Motorsport Australia to include a host of COVID-19 related preventative measures, as outlined in the governing body’s Return To Race document.
Click here for the full results.