Bates claims day one honours at Courier Eureka Rally

Toyota Genuine Parts’ Harry Bates has taken out heat one at the Courier Eureka Rally in Ballarat today.

Bates, with co-driver John McCarthy, led from start to finish, claiming five stage wins along the way and finishing 15 seconds clear of Contel Communications’ Steve Glenney in second.

Bates said it was a big relief to finally have the first win in the Toyota Yaris AP4.

“It’s been an amazing day,” he said.

“At this point I owe a lot to the team who put a lot of work into this car and stayed really determined even though it’s been difficult.

“It wasn’t an easy day by any stretch, we still have a lot to learn with the car but it was a pretty good day.”

Glenney, who made a late switch from co-driver to driver this week, wasted no time settling in to the Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. With co-driver Michael Potter, the pair were never lower than third fastest on today’s stages and set the fastest time on the final stage of the day.

“I was fortunate enough to sit in the other seat in the car last year so handling wise it translated really well,” he explained.

“I just tried to keep it really clean…just tried to find the rhythm, get the technique right in the car… we just crept up on it all day.”

Tankformers Eli Evans, with new co-driver Ben Searcy, held down third outright, but trailed Glenney by over 50 seconds at days end.

Evans said he felt they were really moving forward with the Mini Cooper.

“We were on the pace, not consistently, but the pace was there which is positive, as it hasn’t been in the past,” Evans said.

“We’ve made some really good changes for this event and we will continue to make a few more to see if we can bridge the gap to Harry and Steve, who did an exceptional job today.

“We’ll take third today. Are we happy? No, we’re not happy until we’re winning right? But we’ll try again tomorrow.”

Neal Bates Motorsport’s Lewis Bates delivered a standout performance today, finishing heat one in fourth outright in the Toyota Corolla S2000, campaigned in the past by both his father Neal and brother Harry.

Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read made a solid start to the event, the pair sitting in third after the first two stages. However, a flat tyre on stage four saw them lose over three minutes, dropping them to eleventh.

Taylor pushed hard in the closing stages, clawing her way back to fifth position.

Maximum Motorsport’s Brad Markovic, with co-driver Toni Feaver, made a strong return to the ARC after a seven-month absence due to back surgery, claiming sixth outright in heat one. He also took out heat one in the ARC2 class.

Glen Raymond and Kate Catford showed glimpses of why they are the current Victorian Rally Champions, consistently setting times to be third and fourth fastest on this afternoon’s stages. Their heat one result was hampered however by this morning’s issues, two flat tyres sending them back to the service park early to rectify an issue with the brake system causing the punctures.

Heat two of the Courier Eureka Rally will get underway at 8am from the Rally Hub service park at Ballarat Airport tomorrow. Spectators can see all the action from 10am tomorrow at Ross Creek, south of Ballarat.

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Courier Eureka Rally – Heat 1, Top 10

  1. #3 BATES/McCARTHY 1:10:40.8
  2. #8 GLENNEY/POTTER 1:10:43.5 (+00:02.7)
  3. #2 EVANS/SEARCY 1:11:45.5 (+01:04.7)
  4. #11 BATES/MOSCATT 1:13:01.3 (+02:20.5)
  5. #4 TAYLOR/READ 1:15:10.3 (+04:29.5)
  6. #7 MARKOVIC/FEAVER 1:15:12.3 (+04:31.5)
  7. #6 COPPIN/KELLY 1:16:32.9 (+05:52.1)
  8. #13 MORTON/PENNY 1:16:46.0 (+06:05.2)
  9. #12 PENNY/LLEWELLYN 1:16:48.5 (+06:07.7)
  10. #15 O’DOWD/SHEIL 1:17:18.1 (+06:37.3)