2009 Australian Rally Champion, Neal Bates, is hopeful of contesting more than the first two rounds of this year’s ARC, after Toyota withdrew from the championship last month.

Running under full factory colours for the final time in Tasmania this weekend, Bates will be on his own for the rest of the year, including at his home event in Canberra next month, which he has already committed to contesting.

“At Christmas I would have bet my life on Toyota contesting the full ARC this year, but it just goes to show you that nothing is a certainty,” Bates told RallySport Mag ahead of this weekend’s tarmac round.

“While we will retain the cars and the equipment, it still costs an incredible amount of money to run them for a full season.”

Bates has retained backing from both Caltex and Michelin for this season, but without Toyota’s funding the season is likely to be run on a shoestring.

The staff at Neal Bates Motorsport finish work at the end of this month, and while Bates hopes to be able to re-employ some of them to handle customer work, that is certainly not guaranteed.

“We’ve spent so many years knocking work back because we’ve been too busy to do it, but now the shoe is on the other foot and we need it to survive,” Bates said.

His Toyota team-mate, Simon Evans, has already confirmed that he’ll contest the remainder of the ARC in a Subaru, built and run by his father’s team (see separate story).

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