Bates and McLoughlin lead Rally of Canberra at midpoint

Australian Rally Championship leaders Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin have a 3.1s adavantage in the final round at the halfway point. Image: Motorsport Australia / Gears and Wheels

At the end of Day 1, Lewis Bates and Anthony McLoughlin lead the Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra, the final round of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship.

In hot, dusty and demanding conditions, the reigning ARC champions were able to get through the six stages problem free. They finished the tough day with a 3.1s lead over their Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia Toyota GR Yaris teammates and only title challengers Harry Bates and Coral Taylor. Third place were Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey more than 30s away in their Skoda Fabia R5.

“We are obviously sitting in a good position though, even though we lost lots of time on the first pass of Oakey Creek, which was frustrating,” Lewis admitted.

“We fought back and tried to pile pressure on Harry and as we kept pushing, we began to improve and build the confidence as the day went on.

“I knew that we had a good run on the final stage, but we had no idea about Harry until sometime after we finished. It was a nice surprise to have after what was a tough day.”

Harry led for most of the day, until a spin on the sixth stage cost left him second. They were dominant in the first stage which they won by 17.7s. Second was Lewis with Maguire third in front of Production Cup’s Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis (Subaru WRX STi).

Maguire won Stage 2 by 0.2s over Luke Anear and Malcolm Read (Ford Fiesta Mk2) with Lewis and Harry the next two. Despite victory by Lewis on Stage 3, Harry’s second ensure he still led the rally. Taylor was third ahead of Taylor Gil and Daniel Brkic (Subaru) and Maguire.

Harry won the next two stages and had pushed his lead margin out to 27s. Lewis was second on Stage 4 ahead of Anear, Maguire and Troy Dowel and Bernie Webb (Fiesta). On Stage 5 Lewis was fifth as the trailed Maguire, Alex Rullo and Steve Glenney (Hyundai i20 Rally 2), and Taylor.

It was the day’s last stage that decided the position going into the overnight rest. Lewis was first ahead of Maguire, Gill, Dowel and Harry in fifth, 30s behind his brother as the spin snapped the front sway bar on the Yaris.

Gil finished fourth and led the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup. He trailed Taylor until her WRX had an intercooler issue on Stage 4 and a troubled Stage 6 dropped her to seventh. In between them were Anear and Dowel.

Completing the top 10 were Richie Dalton/Dale Moscatt (Hyundai), and Production Cup title contenders Steve Maguire/Ben Searcy (Mitsubishi EVO 9) and Tim Wilkins/Jim Gleeson (Subaru). Josh Wiedman and Nick Reid (Fiesta) led both the ARC 2WD Cup and the Shamrock Haulage ARC Junior Cup.

Daniel Gonzalez and Morgan Ward had off road excursions in both the morning and the afternoon. Brothers Jamie and Brad Luff also had an off that damaged their Yaris too badly to continue. So too James Dimmock and Larisa Bigga (Yaris) with a crash on the opening stage.

The Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra has six further stages on Sunday, starting at 8:48am with the EROAD Power Stage at 2:30pm AEDT and telecast live and free on 7plus.

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