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HARRY BATES DEBUTS NEW TOYOTA YARIS RALLY CAR

Harry Bates' new Toyota Yaris AP4 Rally Car - Photo: Supplied

Harry Bates’ new Toyota Yaris AP4 Rally Car – Photo: Supplied

Australian Rally Championship (ARC) leader Harry Bates is staking his 2017 title aspirations on a storming new 224kW Toyota Yaris that was unveiled yesterday ahead of Rally SA.

Bates will campaign the turbocharged Yaris in the final two rounds this year, replacing the S2000 Corolla he has driven to a narrow three-point lead in the driver’s championship.

The new all-wheel-drive Yaris rally car promises to be quicker as it is lighter and more nimble with a lower centre of gravity and substantially higher power and torque outputs.

Bates – the son of four-time ARC title-holder Neal – is confident of steering the new car to victory while acknowledging the challenge of getting up to speed immediately with an all-new machine.

“The new Yaris lived up to expectations by performing flawlessly in our first fully fledged shakedown just a week before its competition debut in Rally SA,” Bates said.

“The shakedown confirmed our decision to opt for the Yaris with its combination of small, light car with turbo performance resulting in brisk acceleration, excellent suspension travel and nimble handling,” he said.

“It was quick and strong, just as you’d expect from the latest in a long line of rally cars built by dad and his team at Neal Bates Motorsport.”

Harry Bates shaking down the new Toyota Yaris ahead of Rally SA - Photo: Supplied

Harry Bates shaking down the new Toyota Yaris ahead of Rally SA – Photo: Supplied

Following this weekend’s Rally SA, the new Yaris rally car will compete on the world stage in November at Rally Australia, which is final round of the Australian and World Rally Championships.

Toyota this year returned to world rallying with the Toyota GAZOO World Rally Team, featuring Yaris WRC cars prepared at a new team base in Finland.

Bates’ new car has been built to local AP4 rally regulations, while the WRC rules allow for greater powertrain freedom and more aerodynamic features.

Both AP4 and WRC Yaris cars have 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, but Bates’ car has a 34mm inlet restrictor that limits power compared with the WRC spec car.

Innovations in Bates’ car include de-stroking a 1.8-litre Twin Cam Multi-valve Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine to achieve the desired 1.6-litre capacity. The 2ZZ-GE engine was sold in Australia in naturally aspirated form in Celica and Corolla Sportivo.

Other key features include a specialist rally Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox with Sadev differentials front and rear.

The brake system consists of ventilated, slotted discs with AP Racing callipers and a Sadev hydraulic hand brake, to suit the special demands of rallying on gravel.

The Toyota Yaris will make its competition debut at Rally SA - Photo: Supplied

The Toyota Yaris will make its competition debut at Rally SA – Photo: Supplied

Bates has impressed in his short rally career, becoming the youngest winning driver in ARC history by taking out Victoria’s Eureka Rally in March.

He and co-driver John McCarthy followed up with a dominant performance in their “home” rally in Canberra, winning seven of the 13 completed stages.

Neal Bates said the time was right to replace the Corolla S2000 that has served the Bates clan for a decade.

“For its time, the Corolla was one of the best S2000 cars in the world,” Bates senior said. “But everything in motor sport moves on and there has been so much progress in the last ten years that we have incorporated into the new Yaris.”

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