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Harry Bates has forgone his chances of winning a first Australian Rally Championship and will use Michelin tyres at next month’s Rally Australia. Currently sitting a distant third in the national championship after scoring no points at the previous round in South Australia, Bates and co-driver, John McCarthy, were a long shot of winning the title. The debut of the new Toyota Yaris AP4 didn’t go to plan for the Neal Bates Motorsport team, with an engine problem meaning they only completed one stage in South Australia.
“As a team, we've made the decision to withdraw from the ARC title race, and we are putting all of our efforts in to nabbing a strong result in the WRC at Rally Australia next month,” Harry Bates said.
“Not an easy decision, but this gives us the opportunity to compete using the same tyre as the international teams, and I can't wait to see what the Toyota Yaris AP4 can do on the awesome roads around Coffs Harbour.” To score Australian championship points at Rally Australia, Bates would be required to use the control MRF Tyres. However, with the title all but gone, Bates is looking to the future and a possible drive overseas in coming years. “Ever since the end of 2016, when we came painfully close to winning the Australian Rally Championship, we have worked harder than ever before to put ourselves in a position to achieve what we couldn't last year,” he said. “I think we have put together a bunch of solid performances this season, performances we are very proud of. Unfortunately, despite our speed and consistency, the numbers are against us to make the dream win happen this season due to some technical issues, particularly at the most recent round. This is a part of Motorsport - we know that.” There will now be plenty of interest in the Harry Bates vs Brendan Reeves battle in Coffs Harbour.
Not only will the two young guns be battling each other in new AP4 cars – Bates in the Toyota and Reeves in the New Zealand built Mazda2 – there will also be a tyre battle. Bates on Michelins and Reeves on Pirellis.
It will be an enticing battle worth well worth the admission price.
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