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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.