Australian Rally Championship leader, Harry Bates, is targeting a Junior WRC program in 2020, but it won't come cheap.
To contest the five-round championship in an R2 spec Ford Fiesta would require a budget of around AUD$450,000, however Bates is well aware that the WRC needs to be his next step.
Drivers in this year's JWRC need to enter Sweden, Corsica, Italy, Finland and Rally GB, but the winner's prize is well worth it.
The Junior WRC champion joins an illustrious list of names including Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier, and Elfyn Evans, but they will also receive an unparalleled prize package.
The winner gets a brand new M-Sport EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 car – a route of natural progression for a graduating front-wheel drive R2 star ready to take on the power of an all-wheel drive rally thoroughbred.
Along with ownership of the car, they also receive free WRC2 entry for the following season, and free entry into five WRC rounds.
Pirelli and Wolf Lubricants will also supply 200 tyres and a season’s supply of competition lubricants, making it the most lucrative prize in rallying.
Harry Bates has shown his rivals a clean pair of heels in 2019. Photo: Peter Whitten
"It's a lot of money to be raised, but we're starting the process of finding ways to gather enough funds," Bates told RallySport Magazine.
The JWRC cars are built, prepared and maintained on events by M-Sport, with competitors paying a five-figure deposit per event to coverage any damages.
While that money is refunded after events if there is no vehicle damage, getting the full £12k back is unlikely.
"The rally car is supplied, but I'd need a second car over there to test with," Bates added.
"There are still many, many things to be sorted before we can even consider next year."
Bates is likely to continue to be co-driven by John McCarthy should a JWRC program eventuate.
In the short term, however, he has his mind focussed on the next round of the Australian Rally Championship coming up in South Australia on September 21 and 22.
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