Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia has enjoyed the perfect start to the 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, securing a one-two finish in the Netier National Capital Rally.
Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy dominated across both days, but didn’t have it all their own way throughout the weekend, with second placed Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin pushing the reigning champions and picking up three stage wins for the event.
A late electrical drama on the penultimate stage saw Harry drop almost a minute to his younger brother, but he had already done enough to secure the win – made more sweeter by a strong finish in the event’s first ever Power Stage where he collected a further 10 bonus points as the fastest through the short stage.
“It was a great weekend for not only me but for the whole team,” Bates said.
“We were hoping for the best when we were rolled out two new cars, but you always have the fear when things could go wrong. Fortunately, they (electronic issues) were only minor and we are here as the winners.
The penultimate stage when you’re leading the rally is not an ideal time to have an issue but it was just an electrical issue We dealt with it on the liaison, fixed the issue and went through the power stage with no issues.
“Rally Queensland is a new event. Looking forward to getting back to Queensland as we haven’t been there since 2016, as well as the entry list to see who can give us a run for our money.”
For Lewis, to finish a rally that has plagued his career in recent years in a new car capped off what was a highly successful weekend.
“It s a brand new car, you never know what to expect, but we exceeded the whole team’s expectations,” Lewis said.
“Everyone was a bit nervous yesterday, but to have two new GR Yaris both on the podium as a one-two is just really amazing effort from whole team and we’re really excited.
“Harry was very dominant and has been very fast here for the past five years, so we were happy to get a few stages off him and it gives us confidence going into round two, so we can take that on board.
“For Anthony and I to finish second, it almost feels like a win because of our past so we are just so happy the weekend.”
Rounding out the podium was 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn and co-driver Ray Winwood-Smith in the Midstate Freight entry, Quinn’s strong return to rallying also securing him honours in the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup and $1500 for the performance.
In fourth, Western Victorian Crane Trucks’ Arron Windus and Daniel Brkic finished ahead of young gun Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb in their Up & Go Hyundai i20 G4.
In the Shamrock Haulage 2WD Cup, Adrian Stratford and Kain Manning secured the class win, while also taking out the Junior Cup.
In the Classic Cup, Trevor Stilling performed solidly all weekend – finishing a rally that had many victims.
The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship’s next round takes place in Queensland for the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland on 21-23 May.
Photos: Jack Martin and Peter Norton