Bates’ four-peat on drama filled day

Harry Bates and John McCarthy have continued their winning ways, steering their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia entry to another CAMS Australian Rally Championship win at an incident-filled Pedders Eureka Rush.

Bates’ victory in Victoria’s goldfields was his fourth win of 2019 from four ARC events – the Toyota Yaris AP4 proving it is clearly the car to beat this season.

“Really tough conditions here at the Eureka Rush but very very happy with our day and completely stoked to have taken most stage wins and to be here on top of the podium.” Bates said.

Photo: Aaron Wishart

A number of top runners fell victim to the tight and technical forest stages, including Subaru’s Molly Taylor and AGI Sport’s Luke Anear.

Second on the ARC podium was Les Walkden Rallying’s Simon Evans and Bernie Webb – an impressive showing in just their second rally of 2019.

“The stages are just incredibly challenging. You just have to be really smart and I called on my experience a lot to get through and we actually recorded reasonable times.” Evans said.

Toyota teammates Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin were also strong in Victoria, finishing third – even claiming a stage win on the sixth stage of the event.

“To have two Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia cars on the podium is a credit to the team on what was a challenging day. We’re really happy with our result.” Lewis said.

Photo: Aaron Wishart

Subaru do Motorsport’s Taylor and Malcolm Read were pushing their Toyota counterparts in the opening stages posting some impressive times, however heavy contact with a tree on Special Stage 4 (Water Race) saw their Subaru stranded, partially blocking the stage for the runners behind.

While it looked unlikely the Subaru would return to action after the front-on impact, the Orange Motorsport Engineering team went to work in the service park and the factory-backed Subaru was able to return, running last on the road, but claiming some very valuable Championship points.

Photo: Jason Heidrich

AGI Sport’s Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis ended their rally on the same stage, a rollover meaning their damaged Ford Fiesta R5 was unable to re-join in the afternoon.

Pedders Eureka Rush also doubled as a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship’s Asia Pacific Cup, and it was an up-and-down day for BE Energy’s Hayden Paddon and Samantha Gray. The duo also came-a-cropper on the first run of Water Race, ending their opening heat. However, they were able to claim a number of stage wins before their off.

Photo: Aaron Wishart

The duo were able to get back to the service park and re-join for the afternoon, and went on to show their class claiming further stage wins ahead of the Bates brothers who were entered into both the ARC and APRC competitions. Paddon’s return to the field and quick afternoon times allowed him and Gray to round out the APRC podium in third.