Bates family finishes on top after tough start to Eureka Rally

ON TOP: Eureka Rally winners Harry Bates and John McCarthy celebrate after taking out the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship in Ballarat. Picture: Kate Healy

ON TOP: Eureka Rally winners Harry Bates and John McCarthy celebrate after taking out the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship in Ballarat. Picture: Kate Healy

Canberra driver Harry Bates capitalised on a strong first day to take out the Eureka Rally in Ballarat on Sunday and with it the lead in the Australia Rally Championship.

In a day of high drama for his family in heat one on Saturday, Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy Bates held off Nathan Quinn after 120km on roads east of Ballarat.

While Bates, who is a son of four-time national champion Neale, was able celebrate it was a different story for younger brother Lewis as he had to watch his car get burnt out.

Heat from the exhaust ignited undergrowth after the car became stuck on a gravel bank, with fire engulfing the vehicle.

While Bates could not do better than third in his Toyota Corolla S2000 in Sunday’s heat, a third was enough to give him the overall honours in the 220km rally – the ARC’s first time back in Ballarat in more than 40 years.

Heat two went to Eli Evans and Glen Weston, with Quinn again filling second.

Ballarat’s Aaron Windus had a fine rally on home territory with a third and fifth to take fourth overall.

Reigning ARC champion Molly Taylor had a mixed bag with seventh and fourth to sit sixth overall.

TOP FIVE

Harry Bates-John McCarthy

Nathan Quinn-David Calder 

Eli Evans-Glen Weston

Aaron Windus-Steve Fisher

Marcus Walkem-Scott Walkem