Dream Garage: Harry Bates, ARC champion

Harry Bates in his AP4-spec Toyota GR Yaris that he won the 2022 ARC opener in Canberra. Photo: Jack Martin

Harry Bates has been around cars and rallying his whole life, so it’s no surprise he’s turned into Australia’s leading rally driver.

Driving for his father Neal’s factory-backed Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia team, Bates has won the last three Australian Rally Championships. And he got his 2022 season off to the perfect start with a win at the recent National Capital Rally in his native Canberra.

Given both his and his father’s long association with Toyota, not surprisingly Harry’s Dream Garage would have a few of the Japanese brand’s latest models.

Daily driver: Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series

Toyota LandCruiser GR Sport

“Can I do two?” That’s Bates’ immediate response when asked the question about his preferred daily chariot and his two choices couldn’t be more opposite – the LandCruiser 300 Series or the upcoming GR Corolla.

So why the two radically different Toyotas?

“I love the LandCruiser, love the 300 Series,” Bates explained. “I just find the convenience of being able to tow or go away camping as well as drive around town in something comfortable – I like that whole aspect.”

But as practical as the LC300 is, Bates is excited by the prospect of the new turbocharged, all-wheel drive GR Corolla hot hatch that will arrive later this year.

“[What appeals about it is] pretty much exactly what’s missing for me in the GR Yaris, which is four doors,” he said. “I’ve got a young family and a four-door car that goes as well as the GR Yaris is exactly what I would love to drive around in daily.”

Something special: Porsche 911 GT3

2021 Porsche 911 GT3

The German brand’s latest track-spec road car is a popular choice amongst racing drivers – and it’s easy to understand why. The latest 992 generation is the most track-capable version yet with an aerodynamic package clearly inspired by the GT3 and Carrera Cup racers.

TRACK TEST: 2021 Porsche 911 GT3 review

But for Bates, the biggest appeal is the 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine.

“There’s obviously so many things to love about it and the reason why I’d go for a 911 GT3 over a Turbo or a GT2 or something like that is the noise,” he said. “I absolutely love that sound. That’s my dream car that if I go on one day to have enough money in the account I’ll be trying desperately to buy it.”

Track toy: Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Technically not a ‘track’ car but you can’t hardly blame Bates for picking Toyota’s World Rally Championship machine as his ultimate ride. The new-for-2022 regulations have created a powerful pocket rocket that’s powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and a 100kW electric motor.

“For me, of course the ultimate goal in my sport is to get to the WRC, so if I’m in a GR Yaris Rally1 car then that means I’m there. That’s the ultimate goal,” Bates said.

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