The heat was on in the forests of Western Australia as the first round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) took place over the weekend.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry Bates and John McCarthy have won the rally and claimed maximum points in the opening round.
Bates and McCarthy also took home the bonus point for most stage wins aboard their new Toyota Yaris AP4, securing 13 out of a possible 18 stage victories and victory in both heat one and heat two.
In second overall and emphasising Toyota’s dominance of the weekend was Harry’s younger brother and teammate Lewis Bates. Lewis and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin were able to claim some bragging rights with four stage wins across the weekend.
The Subaru do Motorsport team finished in overall fifth place with a tough Sunday of rallying.
The team finished Heat 2 in sixth place and Heat 1 in fourth showing some solid speed and proving they are not far behind the lighter Toyota’s.
Heat 2 began the night prior with a 5.28 kilometre run around Barnard Park, Busselton before the action then returned Sunday morning to the eight longer forest stages outside Nannup, including two challenging runs through the rally’s longest stages, SS15 and SS18 Range 1 and 2.
Third place on the morning’s first stage, SS12 Brockman 1, was an indicator of Subaru do’s serious intentions.
SS13 Folly 2 saw contender Tom Wilde’s WRX STI lose around four minutes due to a tyre change, giving Taylor an opportunity to pounce and seize second place overall, going into service, ahead of the three remaining morning stages.
Fourth place on SS14 generated growing confidence, but an electrical gremlin with the Production Rally Car (PRC)-class WRX STI on the long SS15 Range 1 cost serious time, relegating Taylor and Read to seventh on stage, with a 45.2 second deficit to first, also pushing them back to fourth overall.
There was also the challenge of getting through SS16 before the final, lunchtime service.
A decision during the morning to again increase the starting gap between cars from two minutes to three, due to heavy dust, prompted cancellation of the day’s final stage, SS19 Galena – organisers deemed the rally would have finished too late in the afternoon.
That left just two stages after service for Taylor and Read to rescue some points action.
They dug deep to keep running despite ongoing electrical challenges, to produce an eighth place on SS17.
They did particularly well to nurse the car through the repeat of the 18.96 km Range stage, enabling them to accumulate hard-earned points at the conclusion of a challenging heat.
Molly said it’s been a challenging day, but ultimately rewarding to achieve points after battling through the last four stages.
“We certainly proved to ourselves in the first three morning stages that our pace is up there, and our confidence in the new car is growing with every kilometre.
“But the electrical problem on SS15 set us back and we were glad to make it through to lunchtime service.
“All in all, it’s been a good start to the season and we feel that this package is going to be really capable based on our early experience.”
CAMS Australian Rally Championship Round One Podium:
1. H. Bates/McCarthy – Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia
2. L. Bates/McLoughlin – Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia
3. Windus/Brick – Western Victoria Crane Trucks
Heat Two Outright:
1. H. Bates/McCarthy – 1:08:24.6
2.L. Bates/McLoughlin +1:16.4
3. Windus/Brick +3:08.0
4. O’Dowd/Feaver +4:12.4
5. Wilde/Kirkhouse +6:13.3
6. Taylor/Read +6:20.6
7. Dowel/Ellis +7:27.4
8. Anear/Glenney +21:39.5
9. Chu/Ash +28:21.8
10. Dalton/Moscatt (missed final three stages)
Heat One Outright
1. H. Bates/McCarthy – 55:19.3
2.L. Bates/McLoughlin +29.9
3. Wilde/Kirkhouse +53.1
4. Taylor/Read +58.4
5. Windus/Brick +2:59.2
6. O’Dowd/Feaver +3:40.9
7. Anear/Glenney +4:22.8
8. Dowel/Ellis +5:41.7
9. Chu/Ash +24:20.1
2019 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
- Forest Rally, Busselton, WA – 5-7 April
- National Capital Rally, Canberra, ACT – 10-11 May
- Subaru Rally Tasmania, Launceston, TAS – 21-23 June
- Eureka Rally, Ballarat, VIC – 24-25 August
- Adelaide Hills Rally, Adelaide Hills, SA – 20-22 September
- Rally Australia, Coffs Harbour, NSW – 15-17 November