Harry Bates believes he has everything to drive for at this weekend’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia despite a large gap separating him and leader Eli Evans in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship.
Bates currently sits 57 points behind Evans in the standings after taking out two rounds in 2018, his two heat DNFs in Western Australia and Tasmania taking a toll on his season’s pointscore.
With Bates’ most recent win, the BOTT Adelaide Hills Rally, being over a month ago, the Canberra-based driver is just excited to get back into the car and see off the year on a positive note.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend because it feels like the Adelaide Hills rally was forever ago now,” Bates said.
“As for the championship, 57 points is a pretty big gap for Eli coming into the weekend so in a way, I’m not going into the event thinking about the championship too much.
“For us it will be business as usual and we will turn up with every intention of putting in a really good performance.”
While Evans holds a comfortable lead over Bates, the 23-year-old hasn’t lost all hope in sneaking past the current leader to claim the title.
“I think he would definitely be seen as the favourite to take the title but if you look at the last couple years it’s not unforeseeable that things can go wrong in this rally,” Bates explained.
“It’s an incredibly challenging event so we will certainly be there, putting our best foot forward, ready to capitalise on someone else’s mistake.
“With this said, I think something dramatic would have to happen to Eli for us to take out the title but it’s not unlikely.”
Heading into the ARC’s season finale, the field will look a little different as usual with Bates’ forming part of the new Toyota brand launch, Toyota GAZOO Racing.
The Toyota Yaris pilot and co-driver John McCarthy aren’t the only crew to look differently at this weekend’s season finale, with third placed Steve Glenney to compete in a new Skoda Fabia R5.
Despite Bates surrounded by the two world-class vehicles, he is far from intimidated, believing that this weekend will be no different to previous rounds.
“Obviously Steve’s pace will increase this weekend in his Skoda and it will be really good to have that extra competition,” Bates added.
“But at the same time, we were able to take it to Eli in the Skoda with our Yaris at the last round in Adelaide, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be aiming to do the same with both Eli and Steve this weekend.
“I am reasonably confident for the rally. We’ve had a really good pre-event test with this setup and the Yaris feels really good heading into the weekend.
“I think I am as well prepared as I can be so I just need to focus on my own driving and try and get the best result I can.”
The Kennards Hire Rally Australia takes place on the Coffs Coast in New South Wales on 15 – 18 November.