The final round of the Australian Rally Championship took place in Victoria over the weekend and it was four-time national rally champions Neal Bates and Coral Taylor who sealed victory in the 2012 Australian Classic Rally Challenge series. The duo finished second at the season-closing Rally Victoria, which earned them sufficient points to clinch victory in both the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles. The Australian Classic Rally Challenge runs as part of the Australian Rally Championship for pre-1986 rally cars. Bates and Taylor won three rallies during the season in their 1980 Toyota Celica RA40, which was hand-built from a bare shell over 18 months and features an authentic World Rally Championship period livery. Bates said he enjoyed competing in the classic section of the ARC. “Coral and I have loved every minute of it,” he said. “The car was absolutely brilliant all year − it’s so much fun to drive, makes a great noise and is sideways a lot, which is pretty spectacular for everyone watching.” Bates and Taylor won the first heat in Victoria before a minor gearshift issue cost them time during the second stage of heat two. They corrected the problem and re-joined the action to finish behind overall event winners Grant Walker and Craig Thomas. “We’ve had the best time this year,” Taylor said. “The main thing for me has been showing off the car to the crowds, who have loved looking at and watching it all season. “It’s been a real pleasure.” Bates and Taylor will announce their motorsport plans for 2013 in the coming months.
Posts Tagged ‘ra40’
Rally champions Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have retaken the lead of the 2012 Australian Classic Rally Challenge after a strong showing in Rally SA aboard their 1980 Toyota Celica RA40. The duo won every stage on Friday and Saturday to resume the series lead from the Porsche team of Jeff David and Grant Geelan who exited early from the event. Bates said the Celica RA40′s pace was exemplary during the weekend’s three heats that took in South Australia’s Barossa, Mount Crawford and Murray regions. “It blows me away how quick this thing is and I can’t wait for the rest of the season,” Bates said. “The car was unbelievably fast throughout and fantastic to drive all weekend.” The Australian Classic Rally Challenge series runs as part of the Australian Rally Championship for pre-1983 rally cars. Bates and Taylor now have 230 points in the classic category with two rounds remaining in the series. The next round of the championship is the Coffs Coast Forest Rally on October 13 and 14.
Four-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates will return to competition this week driving a fully-restored 1980 Toyota Celica RA40 at the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship in Melbourne. Bates, who completed testing over the weekend, has spent the past 18 months building the iconic Celica from a bare shell and will debut it at Rally Calder, which begins on Thursday March 1. The car is a replica of the model the late Ove Andersson and Henry Liddon drove in the World Rally Championship during the early 1980s. Bates will compete in the series alongside successful long-time co-driver Coral Taylor. Bates and Taylor, who are Toyota ambassadors, have won four outright ARC titles, three of which were achieved in a Celica (1993, ’94 and ’95) and one in Corolla (2008). Bates said his fascination with Toyota motorsport history and a love of the RA40 model led him to taking on the project. “Since I saw a photo in a magazine of Ove Andersson and Henry Liddon driving the RA40 at the 1980 Acropolis Rally I was inspired to find one to enter in the ARC,” Bates said. “We bought the car on eBay for a few hundred dollars, stripped it back to a bare shell and then built it from scratch. “I’m very proud of how it turned out – it looks very pretty and the guys did an absolutely superb job.” The car is fitted with 2012-spec safety features including full roll cage, seats and harnesses, as well as new suspension, engine and gearbox. The engine is a fully worked Toyota 3SGE Series 1 twin-cam 2.0-litre in-line four mated to an Australian-made Hollinger five-speed h-pattern ‘dog’ gearbox. “We put the car through a shakedown test last weekend and it ran really well,” Taylor said. “We are very excited and looking forward to getting back to competition, especially with such a beautifully prepared car that pays homage to Toyota’s proud rallying history.” Bates and Taylor will compete in the 2012 Australian Classic Rally Challenge, an expansion of the invitational classic section that has run as part of the ARC since 2009 for pre-1986 rally cars. The classic rally cars will run before the main competitors at each of the six 2012 Australian Rally Championship events and compete for points that go towards a dedicated series points tally. Bates’ Celica joins other purpose-built classic rally cars in the series such as Ford Escort RS 1800s, Porsche 911s and Datsun Stanzas.