Bates, McCarthy run hot to win Eureka Rally once again

ALL SMILES: John McCarthy and Harry Bates show off the spoils of their win in the 2018 Eureka Rally. The pair also won the race last year.

ALL SMILES: John McCarthy and Harry Bates show off the spoils of their win in the 2018 Eureka Rally. The pair also won the race last year.

Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy produced a brilliant display to go back-to-back in The Courier Eureka Rally at the weekend.

The Toyota Genuine Parts combination set the track alight around Ballarat on Saturday and Sunday to land the opening round of the 2018 Australian Rally Championship.

Bates and McCarthy won both heats of the rally, with success across 11 of the 15 stages.

HIGH SPEEDS: Harry Bates and John McCarthy pictured in action during racing on the weekend. The pair won 11 of the 15 stages over Saturday and Sunday.

HIGH SPEEDS: Harry Bates and John McCarthy pictured in action during racing on the weekend. The pair won 11 of the 15 stages over Saturday and Sunday.

“I couldn’t start the season in a better way, really. We took maximum points this weekend, which is a great thing to have, particularly in the first round of the year,” Bates said.

“I guess the plan now is to hopefully carry this momentum forward.”

The result is the first victory on the ARC circuit for the new Toyota Yaris AP4.

STARTING OFF: Harry Bates and John McCarthy at the start of the Eureka Rally in the Ballarat city centre on Saturday morning.

STARTING OFF: Harry Bates and John McCarthy at the start of the Eureka Rally in the Ballarat city centre on Saturday morning.

“It’s a new car and we’re still learning as much as we can about it and it’s still very much in its devlopment stage, but coming here and winning 11 out of 15 stages certainly exceeds our expectations,” Bates said.

“If I could have come here and just won a few, I would have been happy. It’s been sort of a dream weekend, I guess.”

OFF AND RACING: City of Ballarat councillor Jim Rinaldi opens the 2018 The Courier Eureka Rally on Saturday morning.

OFF AND RACING: City of Ballarat councillor Jim Rinaldi opens the 2018 The Courier Eureka Rally on Saturday morning.

Bates and McCarthy finished clear of runners-up Steve Glenney/Michael Potter and third-placed Eli Evans/Ben Searcy.

Glenney made a stellar return to the ARC as a driver after a 10-year absence.

Despite the results, the Tasmanian was a little disappointed with his day two performance.

CITY START: A car leaves Camp Street in Ballarat as the 2018 Eureka Rally begins on Saturday morning in the city centre.

CITY START: A car leaves Camp Street in Ballarat as the 2018 Eureka Rally begins on Saturday morning in the city centre.

“We didn't get a great run this morning and then this afternoon we stepped it up a little bit and just had some errors…so it probably shows my lack of experience at this level. But you've got to give it a try don't you?,” Glenney said.

“It was good to finish second, Harry drove very well, a very mature drive from him. And the guys behind me, Raymo and Eli, were chomping at our heels. So you've got to cut out any mistakes, or they're onto you.”

Evans and new co-driver Searcy rounded out the podium in their first event together.

While Evans was pleased with the points, he wanted more.

PAST CHAMPION: 2016 Australian Rally Championship winner Molly Taylor, with her new co-driver Malcolm Read, finished in fifth place overall.

PAST CHAMPION: 2016 Australian Rally Championship winner Molly Taylor, with her new co-driver Malcolm Read, finished in fifth place overall.

“It's not ideal, I wanted to come here and win. I made that clear at the start but we weren't able to," Evans said.

“I’ve got some work to do as a driver and car and team, to try and bridge the gap.”

Round two of the ARC is scheduled for the Western Australian city of Busselton, with racing set down for April 27-29.

EUREKA RALLY TOP 10

1 – Harry Bates/John McCarthy

2 – Steve Glenney/Michael Potter

3 – Eli Evans/Ben Searcy

4 – Lewis Bates/Dale Moscatt

5 – Molly Taylor/Malcolm Read

6 – Brad Markovic/Toni Feaver

7 – Adrian Coppin/Erin Kelly

8 – Glen Raymond/Kate Catford

9 – Andrew Penny/Rhys Llewellyn

10 – Ben Hayes/Cathy Hayes