Bates dominates home event to extent title lead
Harry Bates has taken maximum points from his home round of the Australian Rally Championship after a stellar performance on the National Capital Rally.
Bates and co-driver, John McCarthy, won all but one stage in their Yaris AP4 ensuring victory in both heats and extending their lead in the championship race.
“I’m very pleased, I don’t think you could ask for much more than that,” Bates explained.
“It was a tough day, this event threw a lot at us. We managed to get through and come out on top.
“Seven out of eight stage wins sounds pretty good on paper. Maybe next time we can go one better and get them all.”
Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor finished second in both heats, improving on her round one performance and giving her title hopes a huge boost.
Her WRX performed faultlessly on the stages and was within a dozen seconds of winner, Bates, in the first heat.
“We knew we had it in the tank, but to be able to put it together is a really good feeling,” Taylor said.
“It was great having some close battles – that’s what makes it fun.
“It’s nice to keep the pressure on Harry, and I think we still have got more to come. I think that’ll keep going into the next round.”
Mick Patton finished the heats in third and fourth respectively which was enough to see him onto the podium in an impressive performance.
“It’s probably not what we thought would happen this weekend, I was hoping for top five, but to get back onto the podium again… really chuffed,” Patton said.
“Canberra roads are great, I think a lot of people got here to drive them and have lots of fun.”
Unfortunately for Patton though, this is likely to be his only ARC event of the year.
Tom Clarke drove his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX to third in heat two showing a great turn of speed to be well ahead of his nearest rivals Patton and Adrian Coppin.
In typical Canberra fashion, the roads took their toll on teams, with trouble hitting a number of the top teams.
Innate Motorsport and Events’ Adrian Coppin had intercom issues early while Darren Windus (Activ Rallysport) retired after the first stage.
Windus’ pace was strong before brake failure sent him off the road and eventually out of the heat.
The Victorian driver would return in heat two, but would not complete stages due to another issue.
Richie Dalton’s run of bad luck continued with a crank angle sensor issue stopping him in his tracks on stage three.
The most spectacular exit of the day saw Lewis Bates roll his Toyota on a slow right hand corner.
Although the damage wasn’t major, there was not sufficient time to fix the car before the beginning of heat two in the afternoon.
The next round of the Australian Rally Championship will see crews travel south to Tasmania for Subaru Rally Tasmania.
The 2018 return of a Tasmanian round was a huge success, and the 2019 edition is bound to be better and more exciting and closely contested.