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“Harry’s going to navigate for me,” Neal Bates said, with Coral Taylor, Bates regular navigator, not available for the upcoming International Rally Queensland on July 12.

Well who is Harry? A father has to trust his kids and Harry, Neal Bates’ son, will make his debut in international rallying next month.

“Look, Harry and I have done a few car zeros (that’s the car just before the first car) and he was fine - he will certainly learn a lot in Queensland,” Bates said.

Bates is in top form after winning the world famous Otago classic rally in New Zealand, catapulting him to world attention for his win. Otago winners include past world champions and the rally is a favourite for classic competitors, with Bates dominating the event in his TTE replica RA40 Celica.

In the domestic Classic Rally Challenge, which is run as part of the ECB Australian Rally Championship, Canberra’s Fro Horobin leads on 163 points, from Mark Butcher (Datsun 1200 mounted) on 126 points. Bates is equal third, with another Canberra driver, Claude Murray.

The only driver able to match pace with Bates is Sydney’s Jeff David in his Porsche and he is expected to line up against Bates in Queensland. A full line of classic rally crews are expected, with favourites like Escort RS1800s and Stanzas thrilling the crowds.

The International Rally of Queensland is a crowd puller and the classic class proves to be a popular drawcard.

Rally organisers are preparing a challenge for classic drivers for the opening stage of the rally on Friday night at Nambour Showgrounds. Sponsored by Brisbane web company WebStor, the challenge will provide great entertainment for the thousands of spectators expected at the rally. The classic teams are guaranteed to put on a show, especially over the Hella jumps in the showground.

The Classics on Saturday and Sunday will run “front of field” - just before the ECB ARC rally cars. The International Rally of Queensland is also Australia’s round of the prestigious Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, with crews from many nations.

With fireworks planned for Friday night and classic rallying turning on the action, Nambour showgrounds will be the place to see great rally action. Tickets to see the classics in action, along with all the other rally crews on the weekend, are available from $20 at www.eventscentre.com.au 

Photos: Vettas Media

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