Australian Rally Championship (ARC) leader Harry Bates is staking his 2017 title aspirations on a storming new 224kW Toyota Yaris that was unveiled today ahead of Rally SA.

Bates will campaign the turbocharged Yaris in the final two rounds this year, replacing the S2000 Corolla he has driven to a narrow three-point lead in the driver’s championship.

The new all-wheel-drive Yaris rally car promises to be quicker as it is lighter and more nimble with a lower centre of gravity and substantially higher power and torque outputs.

Bates – the son of four-time ARC title-holder Neal – is confident of steering the new car to victory while acknowledging the challenge of getting up to speed immediately with an all-new machine.

“The new Yaris lived up to expectations by performing flawlessly in our first fully fledged shakedown just a week before its competition debut in Rally SA,” Bates said.

“The shakedown confirmed our decision to opt for the Yaris with its combination of small, light car with turbo performance resulting in brisk acceleration, excellent suspension travel and nimble handling,” he said.

“It was quick and strong, just as you’d expect from the latest in a long line of rally cars built by dad and his team at Neal Bates Motorsport.”

Following this weekend’s Rally SA, the new Yaris rally car will compete on the world stage in November at Rally Australia, which is final round of the Australian and World Rally Championships.

Toyota this year returned to world rallying with the Toyota GAZOO World Rally Team, featuring Yaris WRC cars prepared at a new team base in Finland.

Bates’ new car has been built to local AP4 rally regulations, while the WRC rules allow for greater powertrain freedom and more aerodynamic features.

Both AP4 and WRC Yaris cars have 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, but Bates’ car has a 34mm inlet restrictor that limits power compared with the WRC spec car.

Innovations in Bates’ car include de-stroking a 1.8-litre Twin Cam Multi-valve Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine to achieve the desired 1.6-litre capacity. The 2ZZ-GE engine was sold in Australia in naturally aspirated form in Celica and Corolla Sportivo.

Other key features include a specialist rally Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox with Sadev differentials front and rear.

The brake system consists of ventilated, slotted discs with AP Racing callipers and a Sadev hydraulic hand brake, to suit the special demands of rallying on gravel.

Bates has impressed in his short rally career, becoming the youngest winning driver in ARC history by taking out Victoria’s Eureka Rally in March.

He and co-driver John McCarthy followed up with a dominant performance in their “home” rally in Canberra, winning seven of the 13 completed stages.

Neal Bates said the time was right to replace the Corolla S2000 that has served the Bates clan for a decade.

“For its time, the Corolla was one of the best S2000 cars in the world,” Bates senior said. “But everything in motor sport moves on and there has been so much progress in the last ten years that we have incorporated into the new Yaris.”

Toyota Yaris AP4 Specifications:
Model: Toyota Yaris
Engine type: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Engine Designation: 2ZZ-GE (de-stroked from 1.8L to 1.6L)
Configuration: In-line
Valve mechanism: Twin-cam 16-valve
Fuel system: Bosch
Restrictor Plate: 34mm restrictor plate
Displacement: 1613cc
Bore x stroke (mm): 82.0 x 76.4
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Turbocharger: Garrett 2860
Exhaust: Custom 2 ΒΎ inch
Intercooler: Custom PWR Front-mount
ECU: Motec M150 power management system and C125 display/logger
Maximum Power: 300hp/224kW
Maximum Torque: 420Nm
Driveline type: All-wheel drive
Gearbox: Sadev six-speed sequential
Differentials: Sadev (front & rear)
Steering system: Hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion
Front brakes: 300mm x 30mm slotted discs, four-piston AP Racing callipers
Rear brakes: 300mm x 30mm slotted discs, four-piston AP Racing callipers
Hand Brake: Sadev Hydraulic
Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts with MCA coil springs and remote-reservoir dampers
Rear suspension: Independent MacPherson struts with MCA coil springs and remote-reservoir dampers
Wheels: Speedline 15 x 7.0 “
Tyres: MRF 205/65R15
Battery: Braille dry cell
Fuel Tank: 75L ATL Fuel Cell
Seats: Racetech RT9119
Harness: 6-point Sabelt
Steering Wheel: Sabelt 330mm
Roll Cage: Custom chrome moly
Dimensions: Minimum dry weight: 1230kg
Overall length: 3945mm
Width: 1820mm
Height: 1485mm
Wheelbase: 2525mm

Toyota motorsport:Β In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial. This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally. Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia’s premier grassroots circuit-racing category. Toyota also supports the Neal Bates Motorsport team in the Australian Rally Championship.