Bates took the victory across the 180 competitive kilometres of the rally and was in a see-sawing battle with his brother, Lewis Bates, for the entire length of Sunday.
His title, sealed only by winning the end of rally Power Stage, is also the fifth title for his co-driver Coral Taylor.
Harry’s title has been a long time coming after the domination of his first title in 2019. He had the chance to win the championship in a similarly close fight last season, but crashed on the final day.
There was no such worry this time.
“I just can’t believe it. I’m totally lost for words,” Bates said at the end of the Power Stage.
“It’s been a really, really up and down year and for it to culminate in this (the title) in front of so many Canberrans, it’s incredible to see so many fans out here to witness it.
“There is a lot of relief right now and I’m just so happy that we’re able to do the job today.
“It’s just amazing to have my team right here behind me – an incredibly hard working group of guys and girls who also deserve a round of applause – and obviously to have my family here as well, it’s emotional. I just can’t believe it’s my second ARC title.”
Trailing heading into Sunday’s stages, Harry was on a charge, and the lead changed hands at each opportunity throughout the morning.
Special stage nine, Bald Hill, was where the tide turned.
Lewis spun towards the finish of the stage and lost time. He was 11 seconds slower than Harry. Although it was only a small margin, it dropped him out of the fight for the lead.
In all, it came to the final Power Stage shootout where the winner would be crowned on the results of that stage alone.
A 2.1-seconds margin in Harry’s favour sealed the deal.
“It didn’t all go exactly to plan this weekend. We had a lot going on in the car and obviously the battle between Lewis and I was very tight, but we had to make sure that we were keeping up our intensity because Lewis and Anthony were on fire this weekend,” he added.
“The fact that the battle came down to 3.9 seconds for the event is just crazy. It took a lot of mental strength to get through this weekend.”
Bodie Reading was crowned Production Cup champion. Photo: Peter Whitten
This year’s Rally of Canberra returned to the event’s arguable traditional time slot of November and provided crews with some of the driest and dustiest conditions of the season.
Saturday’s stages took crews to the west of Canberra to the Brindabellas, while the final day’s action was in the even more familiar Kowen Forest.
Behind the title fighting brothers, Eddie Maguire completed his Canberra debut in third position.
His weekend was tricky and he will take confidence from tackling each and every kilometre on an event which returns as the season opener in 2024.
Taylor Gill took an impressive fourth overall in his trusty Subaru Impreza WRX, ahead of a pair of chasing Ford Fiesta Rally2 drivers, Luke Anear and Troy Dowel.
2016 title winner Molly Taylor finished in seventh overall, with Peter Rullo, Richie Dalton and Steve Maguire behind her to finish the top ten.
RallySport Magazine will have unrivalled coverage of the ARC finale available for subscribers this week, including an exclusive podcast interview with Harry Bates on our Special Stage Rally Podcast.
Rally of Canberra Results
1. Harry Bates / Coral Taylor, Toyota, 2hr01m03.0s
2. Lewis Bates / Anthony McLoughlin, Toyota, + 6.0s
3. Eddie Maguire / Zak Brakey, Skoda, + 2m02.5s
4. Taylor Gill / Dan Brkic, Subaru, + 3m22.4s
5. Luke Anear / Malcolm Read, Ford, + 3m34.2s
6. Troy Dowel / Bernie Webb, Ford, + 3m42.9s
7. Molly Taylor / Andy Sarandis, Subaru, + 4m25.2s
8. Peter Rullo / James Marquet, Hyundai, + 5m26.8s
9. Richie Dalton / Dale Moscatt, Toyota, + 5m29.3s
10. Steve Maguire / Ben Searcy, Mitsubishi, + 6m14.3s