Rally regular ready for road switch

CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) regular Harry Bates will swap gravel for tarmac later this month when he again takes part in the Toyota 86 Racing Series at Sandown Raceway.

The Canberra based rally driver will line up on the grid as an invited driver for the second year running.

In a special tribute to Bates’ father and Australian rally legend Neil Bates, Bates will be behind the wheel of an 86’ dressed in the colours of Neil’s formidable 1990s Group A ST205 Celica GT-Four.

The special livery follows the recent achievement of Neil and long-time co-driver Coral Taylor who made a special return to their two-time ARC winning ST205 in December last year, where they won their class in an Adelaide Rally tarmac event.

“Dad made his name in rallying and so it was natural that I would enter that field but he has always been a very versatile driver, having competed in circuit racing in Supercars and at Bathurst many times,” Bates said.

“I had my first experience in circuit racing in the 86 last year at Sydney Motorsport Park and while some of the skills needed are different, particularly in the really tight wheel-to-wheel action of the 86s, I am really looking forward to having another go.

“It’s a highly competitive series and I managed a best result of 11th in Sydney, so I’ll be hoping to improve on that.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in dad’s old Celica livery – the car will look really great.”

Bates will compete in the series as part of a special program mentoring aspiring race drivers and talented amateurs, with two invited drivers competing in every round.

Bates, who currently sits in third place in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship will have plenty of competition in the series, with five of the series’ drivers taking out top honours throughout the nine-race season thus far.

Leading the charge will be Tim Brook, who sits on top of the standings outright after a dominating the series’ second round in Townsville, while top-end regulars Luke King and Cameron Crick will also provide a big challenge for Bates.

The Toyota 86 Racing Series hold their fourth round of 2018 as a support category during Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s first enduro event of 2018 at the RABBLE.Club Sandown 500 on 14-16 September.

Click here for more information on the Toyota 86 Racing Series.