Harry Bates' Rally Australia campaign was halted on Saturday afternoon at the WRC round when engine problems forced the Toyota Yaris AP4 out of the event.
Bates and co-driver, John McCarthy, were in 13th place and were leading the Australian Rally Championship component by three minutes at the time.
After Eli Evans' day one retirement, Bates was on track to challenge both Evans and Steve Glenney for the ARC crown, but it wasn't to be.
"It’s been another tough season for us, but we have learnt a lot," Bates told RallySport Magazine.
"The engine issue was inlet cam related. The inlet cam pulley slipped on the camshaft, hence it lost timing and shut down right in front of a few hundred spectators on Welsh's Creek.
"It's very disappointing as we’d managed to have a strong showing up until then."
Two stages before the engine problems, the Yaris lost its entire front bumper, but Bates says this had nothing to do with the issue that caused his retirement.
"I have no idea what happened to the bumper!" he added.
"I got to the end of the stage, jumped out to have a look at the tyres and went 'Oh wow, John, the bumper is missing!
Harry Bates mysteriously lost his Yaris' front bumper on the first pass of the Urunga stage.. Photo: Peter Whitten
"We didn’t hear or see it go.
"Lewis (Bates) was a few cars behind me on the road, and he described exactly where it was.
"My only explanation for how it’s happened is that with the amount of jumps, cuts and dips in the stages, it has eventually just torn straight off.
"It was unrelated to the engine, and it had no affect on performance whatsoever. In fact, we went on to win the next two stages without a bumper."
The new Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia team will now get to work preparing two cars for next year's ARC, with Harry and younger brother, Lewis, at the wheel.
A brand new Yaris AP4 will be built for Harry, with Lewis taking over the original car that was debuted at Rally South Australia last year.
There were plenty of rumours flying around the ARC service park at Rally Australia as to who could be on the starting line for 2019, so it promises to be one heck of a season.
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