Last time out in Canberra

It may not be the longest turnaround between visits to the nation’s capital, but the Techworkz Automotive Rally of Canberra certainly delivered the last time the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) was in town.

Serving as the 2023 season finale, there was plenty of anticipation for the event with the title fight between Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin and their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates, Harry Bates and Coral Taylor.

Plenty of permutations were done in the lead up to the event by the ARC community, with the reigning champions in Lewis and McLoughlin on top of the standings in the lead up to the event, having led for most of the season.

For Harry and Taylor though, the equation was simple – win both the event outright and get maximum bonus points on the Power Stage, and championship honours would be theirs.

And Harry got exactly the start he would have wanted, as he jumped out to a 17 second lead on the rally’s opening stage, before Eddie Maguire and Brakey guided their Skoda Fabia R5 to the stage two win.

Lewis and McLoughlin then got a victory on stage three to slightly reduce the deficit, only for Harry and Taylor to charge to a 27 second lead by winning the next two stages.

A big spin on the first day’s sixth and final stage saw Harry and Taylor undo all their good work by spinning out and snapping a front sway bar, which resulted in them falling behind Lewis and McLoughlin at the halfway point.

Photos: Gears and Wheels Photography

The two title contenders continued their epic battle on the final day of the season, as they exchanged stage wins and the outright event lead during the day’s three stages,

First Harry won the morning’s first stage to claim back the lead; then Lewis regained the lead on the following stage. The rally then endured arguably its biggest moment when an overshoot by the reigning champion on the day’s third stage handed Harry back the lead.

Watch the full highlights from the event here.

Harry’s win on the fourth stage of the day extended his lead out to almost seven seconds, before Lewis’ victory on the penultimate stage brought him to within four seconds.

As hoped by everyone in the community, the title would go down to the final stage of the season, which Harry and Coral eventually won by just two seconds – ultimately giving them the title.

Behind them, Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey rounded out the event podium after a series of third places throughout Saturday set them up nicely, while Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney showed plenty of promise on the final day with a handful of top three finishes.

One of the star performers outside the top three though was young New South Welshman Taylor Gill and co-driver Daniel Brkic, who enjoyed a welcome return home after a season in the FIA Rally Star program by finishing fourth outright.

Finishing just behind the Mainfix ARC Production Cup winners were Luke Anear and Malcolm Read in fifth place, while Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb placed sixth outright a further nine seconds off Anear.

In other classes, Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston steered their Datsun Stanza to 17th place outright to win the ARC Classic Cup for the second consecutive round, while rising stars Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid edged out Ben and Cathy Hayes by just over a minute to win the ARC 2WD Cup.

View the full event results for the Subaru Results Hub.

The 2024 ARC season kicks off this weekend with the Techworkz Automotive Rally of Canberra.