Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin are one step closer to a second Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) title after winning the PowerPlay Adelaide Hills Rally.
The reigning champions were quite consistent across the 25-stage rally despite facing some challenges, but victory in Heat 2 and a runner-up finish in Heat 1 proved enough for them to take out top honours for the whole event.
Finishing Heat 2 in second place were Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey after a thrilling battle with Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney with the Tasmanians ahead by just one and a half seconds.
Going right down to the wire on the EROAD Power Stage, Maguire and Brakey were able to pip the IntelliSpatial Fleetcare Racing Hyundai i20 of Rullo and Glenney, who settled for third place in the heat to solidify their best overall result for the season.
Although the top three were highly deserving of their placings, their strong finishes to the rally were aided by the misfortune of Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and Coral Taylor on Sunday afternoon.
After winning Heat 1, Harry and Taylor picked up where they left on Sunday to win all the morning’s stages in convincing fashion, but a 25-second penalty on S22 and a spin on S24 saw the duo drop to fifth in the Heat standings ahead of the EROAD Power Stage.
Harry and Taylor then bounced back to win the EROAD Power Stage, but it wasn’t enough to claim the round win as they finished Sunday’s Heat in fifth place, eventually settling in second for the overall event ahead of Maguire and Brakey.
“Thank you to the whole team – they have worked so hard all weekend, and I’m glad we brought home results for them,” Lewis said post-EROAD Power Stage.
“We probably didn’t have the tidiest run in the EROAD Power Stage, so I am not surprised that Harry got us back – we had a fair crack, so hats off to him.
“It hasn’t been the easiest weekend, but we never gave up. We kept fighting the whole way and we put ourselves in a good position at the end, so we’re absolutely over the moon.
“The Adelaide roads are very fast and they require a lot of confidence and bravery and I think we showed that we have the confidence on the fast road.
“A bit of work we need to do when the conditions change, but overall, they’re amazing roads and I love the scenery in the Adelaide Hills.
Rounding out the top three in the EROAD Power Stage was Luke Anear and Malcolm Read, who produced a strong comeback on Sunday to finish the Heat in fourth place between Rullo and Harry.
Highlighting the closeness of the competition, just three seconds separated Maguire, Rullo, Anear and Harry at the conclusion of the Heat.
Heat 2 proved just as exciting in the classes with Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis just edging out Steve Maguire and Ben Searcy by 12 seconds in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
The victory saw Taylor and Sarandis secure outright round honours in the Production Cup, following their victory over Maguire and Searcy in Heat 1.
Ben and Cathy Hayes ran away with ARC 2WD Cup honours for both Heat 2 and the outright event after overpowering Jason Lennane and Jasmine Lockley during Sunday’s stages.
Like the Hayes, Tom Clarke and Ryan Preston had a convincing win in the ARC Classic Cup’s second heat for the event, adding to their Heat 1 victory, while Mitch Garrad and Lucas Zinsstag finished the event with the win in the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup.
The final round of the 2023 Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship will be the Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra in and around the forests of Canberra on 17-19 November.