Harry Bates leads at halfway point of Heat One at Make Smoking History Forest Rally

Photo credit: Tim Allott

Harry Bates is leading the field at the halfway point of Heat One at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Nannup, Western Australia today.

After six stages Bates and his co-driver John McCarthy hold a 19.6 second lead over nearest rivals, Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia teammates Lewis Bates and his navigator Anthony McLoughlin, who clawed back some time over the final stage before the lunch time service break.

Harry Bates, behind the wheel of his brand new Toyota Yaris AP4, has come into the event as favourite but says he always expected Lewis to be close.

“It’s a brand new car this weekend which has been many, many months in the workshop building it to get it ready but we are really excited to finally roll it out,” Bates said.

“It’s a 1.6lt Toyota engine, 6 speed sequential gearbox and all-wheel drive so it’s probably not like a normal Yaris but it’s an amazing car and we are hoping to give it its first win this weekend,” he continued.

“I’ve come into this weekend as favourite whereas in past years I have come in as an underdog so it is a different sort of a feeling but it doesn’t change my approach, we have to go out there and beat the others and that’s never easy so we’re just putting our best foot forward and will see where we end up,” Bates said.

“I think Lewis (Bates) is the real dark horse in the field and has already shown he isn’t here to muck around,” he continued.

Local favourites Tom Wilde/Madeline Kirkhouse (Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI) have a narrow margin over Molly Taylor/Malcom Read (Subaru do Motorsport Subaru WRX STI) with the two crews trading stage bragging rights across the morning, often separated by only seconds.

While their place in the ARC field is under attack Wilde and Kirkhouse hold a commanding lead over the crews in the CAMS Zestino Tyres WA Rally Championship (WARC) component of the event.

Truck Wholesale WA’s John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver sit second in the WARC in their first outing in the Skoda Fabia R5 car. Kody Reynolds/Staltari (Trade Hire Subaru Impreza WRX STI) are holding down third with the big battle looming in the middle of the field between Craig Puzey/Camen Puzey, Alex White/Lisa White, Dylan King/Declan Stafford and Michael Joss/Megan Logue.

Running behind the ARC and WARC Competitors the Clubman Masters and Clubman Cup crews have now have completed SS4 with Dene Courtis/Daniel Adams leading the Masters Class and Tim Bayer/Garry McCagh leading the Cup class.

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is being held in Busselton and Nannup in WA’s Southwest from the 5 – 7 April and is the opening round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship.