Harry Bates wary of famous WA roads
- 19th April 2016, 12:41am
When Harry Bates makes his Western Australian rally debut at the Quit Forest Rally this week he will do so behind the wheel of the Toyota Corolla S2000 that his father Neal Bates drove to win the event in 2008.
Competing in only his eighth rally – his fifth in the Kumho Tyres Australian Rally Championship® – Bates already has an impressive two ARC podium finished to his name, however, he says he still has a long way to go and regulation changes in the ARC for 2016 have opened the competition right up.
“It’s only my second year contesting the ARC so my expectations are still a little mixed. We still need to learn the car and get used to it – it’s really only our second event in the car - but we also want to get great results as well,” Bates said.
“I think everyone is a little unsure of how it’s going to go out there this year with the new regulations changing back to 4WD. The changes are great for competition but it makes it harder to set out what our expectations are before the opening round,” he continued.
“There are a lot of questions over where everyone will fit, how the cars will go, but I think the best thing is that there is some great depth back in the Championship,” Bates added.
The strong field at the Quit Forest Rally includes former Australian Rally Champions Simon Evans, Justin Dowel and Ross Dunkerton as well as local heavyweights Tom Wilde and Brad Markovic, all who have far more experience on the unique ball-bearing surface of the forest roads of Nannup.
“Heading West is a little nerve-racking because the surface is so different to anything I have seen or driven on before,” Bates said.
“I’m glad we have a morning of testing on Wednesday to get used to it and work on the car set up but I am definitely managing my expectations more than ever before this event,” he continued.
With a multiple Australian Rally Champion and Australian rallying Hall of Fame member as a father, expectations are definitely higher on Bates than on many of the other young drivers in the field but he doesn’t let that get in the way of what he sets out to do once an event gets underway.
“Being Neal’s son doesn’t play on my mind much at all really, once you’re in the car there is no contact it’s just you and your co-driver (John McCarthy) in the car managing everything. I mean his advice and experience is helpful to a point but at the end of the day I just need to focus on the job at hand which is my own rally,” Bates said.
“His number one piece of advice ahead of the Quit Forest Rally has just been to stay online, because if you get off the swept line then it’s all bad,” he added.
Quit Forest Rally will be held in Busselton and Nannup from the 22nd – 24th of April 2016. The event is the opening round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Rally Championship® and the Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship.
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