Bates and Taylor take early ARC lead

Harry Bates and Coral Taylor lead Heat one of the 2023 Forest Rally

Harry Bates and Coral Taylor lead Heat one of the 2023 Forest Rally

Harry Bates and Coral Taylor lead the way of the 2023 Forest Rally in their Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia Toyota GR Yaris AP4.

The pair lead after posting two fastest times in the Australian Rally Championship second round, but their lead over Alex Rullo/Steve Glenney’s IntelliSpatial Fleetcare Racing Hyundai i20 Rally 2 after three runs of the 1.55-kilometre course over second place was just 0.4s.

The 2023 Western Australia Forest Rally opened with three shots at the Shannons Bunbury Super Special Stage on Friday evening. While Bates/Taylor topped the first two runs, Rullo/Glenney were the quickest on the third after finishing second and third in the earlier runs.

AGI Rallysport’s Luke Anear and Malcolm Read made it three manufacturers in the top three with their Ford Fiesta MkII third another 1.7s away. They were third, second and fourth in their three runs.

Two seconds further behind in fourth place were 2017 champions Nathan Quinn and Ray Winwood-Smith (Winpart Group Hyundai i20) after they improved through the evening from equal sixth, to fourth and then third.

They finished ahead of Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb (Activ Rallysport Skoda Fabia Evo) who carded with a fourth, a fifth and a sixth.

The reigning champions Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin (Toyota Yaris GR AP4) came away from the night in sixth place ahead of Bodie Reading and Mark Young (Subaru Impreza WRX STi), Dylan King and Lee Tierney (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  IX), and Daniel Gonzalex and Daymon Nicoli (Skoda).

Then came Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey (WRX), John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver (Skoda), Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith (Subaru GD STi) and Steve Maguire and Dale Moscatt (Evo IX) just one tenth of a second behind Rando.

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally in and around Bunbury and Nannup, marked the biggest ARC field to compete in Western Australia since the 1990s and before, fields were split into state and national levels.

Like the season opener in Tasmania, there are half a dozen new generation rally cars.

Heat two continues today for the 2023 ARC Forest Rally.

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