As the first round of last year’s Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) season, there was plenty of anticipation surrounding the 2022 event in the nation’s capital.
Under its previous guise as the National Capital Rally, 13 gruelling stages through the iconic Canberra stages saw Harry Bates and John McCarthy come out top after an entertaining duel with ARC debutant, Shane van Gisbergen, and co-driver Glen Weston.
Rounding out the podium for the endurance round was the returning Brendan Reeves and Kate Catford in their Hyundai i20 R5.
The trio were some of the standout performers for the event, however it was Bates and McCarthy who proved too good, beating a very impressive van Gisbergen and Weston by one and a half minutes.
With seven stages running on the first day of competition, Bates and McCarthy essentially set up their round win on the opening day of the season, getting out to a one a half minute lead in what were wet and challenging conditions.
Their strong lead was built on the back of a clean sweep of stage wins, as van Gisbergen and Weston finished in the top three in every stage to put themselves into second place.
Also showing good pace across the day was multiple-time ARC Champion Eli Evans and Adam Wright – the duo firmly in third place, although more than a minute behind van Gisbergen and Weston, was Eli Evans and Adam Wright.
Evans had actually been only half a minute behind van Gisbergen in his Mini Cooper at the midway point of the day, but a difficult run on the penultimate stage saw him lose significant time.
Reeves and Catford managed to work their way into fourth place a further 43 seconds behind the Mini Cooper, while young gun Taylor Gill and co-driver Kim Bessel made up the top five.
Gill’s breakout performance also saw him leading the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup, with a comfortable two-minute lead over Jamie and Brad Luff, who sat seventh outright.
The first day also saw some drama unfold, with Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin crashing out on stage five.
On Sunday, the remaining six stages were run, as Reeves and Catford broke Harry and McCarthy’s streak by taking out the day’s first stage.
Harry and McCarthy then went on to win the next two stages, which included a dramatic SS9 that was delayed due to an engine fire to the Mini Cooper of Evans and Wright.
Unfortunately, Reeves lost time due to the incident, but the Hyundai N i20 pilot bounced back with a massive performance on the day’s fourth stage, picking up his second stage win of the weekend.
van Gisbergen than had a big moment on SS12, taking out his first ever ARC stage win and beating Harry by two seconds, before going back-to-back by winning the EROAD Power Stage.
While it wasn’t enough to close the gap to Harry and McCarthy, it was still a memorable outing for the Kiwi.
Gill also had an unforgettable outing as the young New South Welshman finished fourth outright and won the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup.
In the other cups, South Australians Guy Tyler and Zayne Admiraal claimed a dominant victory in the ARC 2WD Cup, James Dimmock and Paul Bennett took out a comfortable win in the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup and the ARC Classic Cup was won by Ian Griffin and David Stephens.
The 2023 Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra takes place on 17-19 November.