Harry Bates and John McCarthy remain in top form, finishing the opening day of the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland on top of the standings.
Claiming the opening heat in style, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia star clean swept all six stages, but there were plenty of challengers pushing the GR Yaris AP4 pilots.
Harry’s younger brother Lewis ended heat one in second, while 2016 Champion and Orange Motorsport Engineering Subaru pilot Molly Taylor also put on a show in her return to the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship.
In fourth, young gun Arron Windus was quick all day in his Western Victorian Crane Trucks Subaru, narrowly missing out on a stage win, pushing hard on Saturday’s final stage to finish just one second behind the pace setter, Harry Bates.
Rounding out the top five was AGI Sport’s Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis who were consistent all day.
While Taylor leads Windus in the White Wolf Constructions Production Cup, another future star in Ryan Williams had a solid day in the Shamrock Haulage 2WD Cup – the RnB Rally Team driver more than one minute ahead of 16-year-old Max McRae in his Dirtfish/Truck Wholesale WA Ford Fiesta R2.
There was trouble for Midstate Freight’s Nathan Quinn after a superb and strong start. The Coffs Coast fan favourite came into the midday service in second after rebuilding an engine on Friday night, but his Saturday ended early after stopping on stage when a low oil pressure warning lit up his dash. With more damage uncovered, the team will again be busy overnight – Quinn saying he plans to re-join the rally tomorrow.
A further six stages remain tomorrow, including the Elysian Energy Power Stage – where bonus Championship points are again up for grabs.
The Power Stage will also be live streamed on Facebook, with a full replay available on 7plus tomorrow afternoon.
Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland Heat 1
1. Harry Bates/John McCarthy
2. Lewis Bates/Anthony McLoughlin
3. Molly Taylor/Malcolm Read
4. Arron Windus/Daniel Brkic
5. Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis
6. Richie Dalton/Dale Moscatt
7. Clayton Hoy/Erin Kelly
8. Troy Dowel/Bernie Webb
9. Marcus Walkem/John Alle
10. Chris Higgs/Steve Fisher
Photos: CH Images