Harry Bates is more hungrier than ever to win the CAMS Australian Rally Championship after coming so close in last year’s dramatic final title.
After claiming two of the five opening rounds, Bates was right in the title hunt until succumbing to a DNF at Kennards Hire Rally Australia, ending his dream of lifting the ARC trophy.
It’s not the first time the 23-year-old has come so close to the title after suffering a similar fate in 2016, when car issues saw him lose the title on the final day.
With the championship’s opening round less than two months away, Bates admits he is a little frustrated that he’s yet to become champion, but is eager to get out there and put it emotions behind him.
“I think I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn’t say my goal is to win the ARC this year,” Bates revealed.
“To win the ARC has been my goal for a few years now but unfortunately, it has not happened.
“My career started with a string of good results and I really thought that’s how motor sport is, but in recent times I have discovered the difficulties of rallying.
“While it has been quite frustrating, it’s been a humbling experience. It will make a championship win one day, whenever that is, much sweeter.
“I am just looking forward to getting out there, representing Toyota Gazoo Racing and putting everything that we have learned about this new car into practice.”
Toyota’s growing confidence in the ARC has seen them sign up with Neal Bates Motorsport after agreeing to offer the Canberra based team two new Toyota Yaris prototypes for the full ARC season.
The 2019 season is expected to be once again be strong after Subaru also recently extended its partnership with 2016 champion Molly Taylor.
With Taylor and Subaru looking to re-live the glory of 2016, the deal will see the traditional rivalry between the two iconic rally manufacturers continue for another year.
While the new Yaris could put Bates in the best position to achieve his dream after Toyota Gazoo Racing’s success on the world stage, Bates is well aware of the power of Taylor’s new wheels.
“The Subaru and Toyota rivalry has been going on for more than 30 years now and it’s amazing that these two brands have stayed at the forefront of the sport for so long,” Bates explained.
“As for Molly and my rivalry, our relationship also goes back many years as we grew up together, we have always been family friends and once again, we are again going up against each other.
“In 2016, when she won the title in her first year, I was in the fight as well and it came all the way down the last round and now I am more motivated than ever to win.
“I do acknowledge that she is in a new Subaru this year, so I am expecting her to be a lot quicker than she was last year. I think we can also expect more closer battles between us this year.”
The CAMS Australian Rally Championship will kick off in Western Australia on 5-7 April for the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.