The scene is set for a thrilling conclusion to the 2022 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, after a thrilling Adelaide Hills Rally.
With the standings now confirmed following the penultimate round of the season, it’s Lewis Bates who now leads the drivers’ championship over Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammate Harry Bates.
Sitting at the top of the summit with a score of 398, Lewis holds a healthy lead of 27 points over his brother courtesy of two consecutive wins in Gippsland and South Australia.
It has been a staggering reversal in fortune for Harry, with a difficult run in the two previous rounds after charging out to a comfortable lead in Launceston, which saw him claim a hat trick of wins for 2022.
His engine bay fire midway through the second day of competition in South Australia all but ended any hopes of strong points finish, leaving his push for a second consecutive title in tatters.
Similarly to Lewis, Troy Dowel’s consistent streak of podiums in Gippsland and the Adelaide Hills have been enough to see him move to third outright – just 61 points behind the reigning champion.
Only 21 points separate Dowel and fellow Adelaide Hills Rally podium getter Richie Dalton, after the Irishman recovered nicely from a DNF in Victoria to claim his third podium for the year.
Rounding out the top five on the standings is first-year driver Daniel Gonzalez, who moved further ahead of Taylor Gill thanks to a season high fourth place in Adelaide.
With Gill placing eighth in South Australia, the New South Welshman fell 43 points behind Gonzalez ahead of the final round.
Although the teenager missed out a higher outright finish due to mechanical gremlins, he still managed to secure a decent points haul in the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup.
The new leader now sits on 233 points in the Production Cup, with Ronald Bustard eight points behind. South Australian Molly Spalding’s best result of fourth saw her move into third place ahead of Cahal Carey by just four points.
Jamie Luff’s resurgence in the ARC continued with an outright fifth and win in the Production Cup, moving him to equal fifth alongside Guy Tyler, as both drivers surpassed first-year rookie Max McRae, whose DNF saw him fall to seventh.
Tyler, who pilots the popular Mitsubishi Magna, has had a stellar year behind the wheel in 2022 and has finished on the Shamrock Haulage 2WD Cup podium in every event he has competed in.
His runner-up finish in the 2WD Cup saw him consolidate third place in the standings, with James Dimmock celebrating his victory by moving to the top and just eight points ahead of Dean Ridge.
While Dimmock did manage to finish with the top 10 finish and 2WD win, he fell short of Spalding by one and a half minutes as the South Australian picked up her best result for the year.
The outright P9 and Glendun ARC Junior Cup win saw Spalding close the gap on Dimmock, with just 10 points the difference between the two.
In the Classic Cup, David Thompson moved to the top of standings after winning in the class.
The order atop of the co-drivers’ championship tells a slightly different story. Anthony McLoughlin holds a 88 point lead over Troy Dowel’s co-driver Bernie Webb, while Dale Moscatt sits in third ahead of John McCarthy, who was absent from Shannons Rally Launceston.
It’s far closer in the Cups as Paul Bennett leads Phillip Bonser by eight points in the Shamrock Haulage 2WD Cup, as well as leading Douglas Johnson in the Glendun Junior Cup by 10 points.
Experienced co-driver Larisa Biggar sits 11 points ahead of James Ford in the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup.
The penultimate round of the season saw a change of leadership between Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia pair Lewis and Harry Bates, however the brothers had done enough to seal the Manufacturers’ crown for Toyota.
With one round to go, Toyota has an unassailable lead of 50 points over Hyundai, while Subaru sits comfortably in third place.
The final round of the 2022 ARC season will take place next month with the Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally on 25-27 November.