** Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia rally team scores double podium in Forest Rally **
** Harry Bates / John McCarthy win 13 of 18 stages to take both heats **
** Lewis Bates / Anthony McLoughlin first outing in Yaris AP4 in second place **
The Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia rally team has had a sensational start in the 2019 Australian Rally Championship posting a 1-2 win in the Forest Rally held in WA over the weekend.
Taking 13 out of 18 stage wins in the dusty and slippery conditions in the south-west of the state, Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy finished in a commanding position to take both heat wins and overall victory in their brand-new Yaris AP4.
Hot on his heels was younger brother Lewis Bates and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin in their first outing in the turbocharged Yaris, taking four stage wins and overall second place.
Toyota Chief Marketing Officer Wayne Gabriel said it was a superb start to the season for the team and confirmed Toyota’s faith in the factory-backed Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia rally team.
“Our commitment to run a two-car Yaris campaign in the 2019 Australian Rally Championship is already paying dividends with an excellent result in the first round of the season and we couldn’t be happier,” Mr Gabriel said.
“In team principal Neal Bates, we have a four-time Australian rally champion legend whose long association with Toyota has brought us enormous motorsport success over the past three decades, and now his sons Harry and Lewis are showing very promising signs of following in their father’s rally tracks.
“We want to congratulate the entire team on its outstanding effort in preparing both cars – one of them brand new that was still being built just weeks ago – and following through with faultless drives from Harry, Lewis and their co-drivers,” he said.
Lewis kicked off the weekend with a win in his first competitive drive in the Yaris in the two-run Super Special Stage through Busselton on Friday night that saw him and McLoughlin go into Saturday’s heat 1 just 0.1 seconds ahead of Harry and John.
But Harry’s precision driving throughout Saturday gave him six wins in the eight stages to finish on top after heat 1, 29.9 seconds ahead of Lewis.
Harry extended his lead over Lewis through Sunday’s special stages to take the overall win and top the driver’s leaderboard with 81 points for the round ahead of Lewis in second place on 68.
Harry said he was stoked to take the win in WA, especially in a brand new Yaris.
“We really had to put so much effort into getting the new car ready in time and it proved faultless, fast and so good to drive,” Harry said.
In his first competitive drive in the Yaris, Lewis said it was big step up from the Corolla S2000 he campaigned last year but already he felt comfortable in the car.
“The car feels amazing to drive. I tested it last week and then again in the pre-event test but in the rally, it just gives me confidence to drive it even harder and harder, so I am really happy how the Yaris is performing,” Lewis said.
The Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia rally team next heads to its home town of Canberra for the first sprint event at the National Capital Rally on May 11.
Toyota has a proud international motorsport history spanning more than 60 years. It became the first Japanese car manufacturer to enter international motorsport when it contested the 1957 Mobilgas Round Australia Rally, which is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota GAZOO Racing contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar rally. Closer to home, Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia supports the Toyota 86 Racing Series that seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia’s premier grassroots circuit-racing category. In rallying, Toyota also supports the Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia rally team in the Australian Rally Championship.