** TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia’s Lewis Bates and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin win 2022 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) driver’s and co-driver’s titles in GR Yaris AP4 **
** Tense battle between Bates brothers in final round at Coffs Coast before reigning champions Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy crashed out in third last stage **
** Toyota wins triple crown with Manufacturers title win after Adelaide Hills Rally in October **
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia’s (TGRA) Lewis Bates has taken out the Driver’s Championship title in the 2022 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) for the first time following a tense battle and plenty of drama in the final round at Coffs Coast in NSW.
After a win in the last round in South Australia in October, Lewis had a narrow 27 point lead over older brother and reigning champion Harry Bates going into the Coffs Coast Rally and his and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin’s overall second place in their GR Yaris AP4, gave the pair enough points to win the ARC Driver’s and Co-Driver’s Championship titles.
With three stage wins on Saturday, Harry and co-driver John McCarthy went into Sunday in the lead but the pair crashed out on stage 12, leaving Lewis and McLoughlin only needing to finish the final two stages to take the championship, which they did in fine style winning the final power stage.
Lewis and McLoughlin’ s championship titles gave Toyota a triple crown for the 2022 ARC following its Manufacturer’s title awarded after the Adelaide Hills Rally.
Speaking after the win Lewis said he was “over the moon” with the result and it was an awesome team effort.
“It was a pretty intense weekend as after Harry led on the Saturday, it was really going down to the wire to see who was going to finish on top,” Lewis said.
“But Anthony and I just stuck to what we were doing and keep the car on track. I was gutted about Harry’s crash but we just pushed on and it was just fantastic to finish off with a win on the power stage and take the title.
“The car performed faultlessly and that’s a testament to the whole TGRA rally team and we couldn’t have done it without the huge effort over the whole season by every one of them,” he said.
The season has seen an epic battle between the Bates brothers with Harry and co-driver John McCarthy taking the win in the first three rounds in Canberra, WA and Tasmania.
With the fourth round in Queensland cancelled due to the floods, Lewis and McLoughlin returned with a blistering pace in Gippsland to take their first ever ARC round win after Harry’s car suffered a broken prop shaft ending their run on day one of the Gippsland Rally.
Lewis and McLoughlin followed up with a win in South Australia after an engine fire in Harry’s car put paid to his Adelaide Hills Rally campaign and set the scene for a final Bates brothers showdown at Coffs Coast.
As well as being the final round for the 2022 ARC season, the Coffs Coast Rally also played host to a winner-takes-all finale of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with Lewis and Anthony’s second place giving them the same podium position behind New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard in the APRC.
With a manufacturers title, and the driver and co-driver top spots on the podium for the 2022 ARC season, Toyota and the TGRA rally team is now looking forward to the six-round 2023 ARC season that kicks off in Tasmania with Rally Launceston on 24-26 March.