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Harry Bates has surprised his more experienced rivals by taking Heat 1 honours at the Quit Forest Rally, round one of the 2016 Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship (ARC), in Busselton, Western Australia.

Driving a Toyota Corolla, Bates and co-driver John McCarthy held off multiple ARC champion, Simon Evans, to win the day by just 1.1 seconds.

Evans had the disadvantage of running as first car on the road, and had to sweep the roads clear but acknowledged that is just part of being first on the road.

“Harry did a great job. My hat goes off to him because you have to be a decent driver to get a good result here and he’s proven he’s got the talent. Hell, he might even be better than his dad (Australian rally legend Neal Bates)”, Evans joked.

Bates admitted he was surprised with the Heat win and feared he’d given it away when he braked too late on a corner in SS7, running wide off the road for 20 or 30 metres. Fortunately for him, he was able to continue and managed to hold off the hard-charging Evans.

Mark Pedder and Dale Moscatt finished the heat third in their Peugeot 208 Maxi, with Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes completing the day strongly in fourth place in their Subaru do Motorsport WRX STi.

Justin Dowel/Toni Feaver and Tom Wilde/Nick Clements rounded out the placings.

In the WA Rally Championship, Mike Young and Cameron Tunstall took the points after Sean Keating/Caleb Ash and Brad Markovich/Glenn Macneall were both forced to retire.  Oxley/Wood and Whittle/Vass finished second and third in the WARC heat.

Keeping Heat 1 honours in the family, Harry Bates' father, Neal, who is co-driven by Molly Taylor’s mum, Coral, won the Australian Classic Challenge by a comfortable five minutes from John Ludlam/Justin Willis, with Andy van Kann and Madelin Kirkhouse third.

Photo: John Doutch

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