For the first time in his RESA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) career, Harry Bates will be without regular co-driver John McCarthy.
McCarthy will miss this weekend’s Shannons Rally Launceston after testing positive for COVID-19, which requires him to stay isolated for the next seven days.
Fortunately for Bates, he will have a co-driver just as accomplished calling the notes in McCarthy’s absence this weekend, with four-time Australian champion Coral Taylor to sit beside him for the 13-stage rally.
Taylor made a name for herself as Neal Bates’ co-driver for 18 years where the duo won four national titles and finished second eight times together, as well as made several appearances on the World Rally Championship.
This weekend won’t be the first time the current reigning Australian champion will have Taylor sitting next to him, with the duo having paired up in the 2015 Rally of the Bay.
Since then, McCarthy has been Bates’ co-driver for every event except for another once-off last year where Bates teamed up with Andy Sarandis for the Monaro Stages – the duo forming a good partnership and winning the event.
While not having McCarthy for his first time in an ARC round may prove a challenge, Bates wasn’t too phased about having Taylor as the replacement.
“It’s a shame John (McCarthy) won’t be with us this weekend as he had to stay home, but he is feeling okay and we will make sure he is ready to go for next month’s Accent Benchtop Rally Queensland,” Bates said.
“In the current climate, we had always had a backup plan for this scenario, which was to have Coral on standby, so it isn’t exactly a bad trade off as Coral is a pretty strong replacement.
“Having a legend of the sport like Coral calling the notes for me will be a weird experience because I grew up watching dad’s onboards and hearing her voice on a screen, so it will be surreal to hear it in real life.
“With that said, it’s going to be business as usual even though Dad and I have very different notes systems – I am sure someone of Coral’s experience will adapt fine to my complicated system.
“I am kind of excited at the thought of having someone new sitting next to me though. John and I have been doing it together for ages so that we know exactly how the other operates and we think similar, so to have Coral in will be a new type of challenge.
“Of course, I always like a new challenge, I don’t know if this was the one I would have wanted, but it is exciting and a great opportunity – especially for Coral who I am sure will be both excited and nervous to be sitting in what are the fastest cars to ever grace the ARC.”
The Shannons Rally Launceston takes place in and around the forests of Launceston on 25-27 June.
Feature Photo: Dakar Press Team Australia