Current Australian Rally Champion Harry Bates will make his WRC debut next month, having entered Rally New Zealand.
Bates will compete in the WRC2 category in the biggest opportunity of his career to date and he’ll go up against New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon, who’ll be driving his Hyundai i20, plus other international drivers.
In what will also be Bates’ first ever rally outside of Australia, he will have a familiar voice calling the notes, with co-driver John McCarthy to sit beside him.
While it will be a familiar driving partnership, Bates and McCarthy will not compete in their regular Toyota GR Yaris AP4, instead getting behind the wheel of a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
Although the duo represent Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia in the Australia Rally Championship (ARC), Toyota do not produce an eligible WRC2 car, forcing the reigning champions to look at other options for the 17-stage rally.
“I’m a competitor and I love a new challenge, so for me it’s super exciting to be up against talented WRC regulars and the likes of highly respected Kiwis such as Hayden Paddon, Shane van Gisbergen and Ben Hunt in their home rally – John and I can’t wait to test ourselves against some of the best,” Bates said.
“It’s been months of hard work for our small team to get to this point, and I am so fortunate and humbled to have the help and support from people in Australia as well as overseas.
“I must also thank Toyota Australia for their support in allowing me to take this opportunity.”
Rally New Zealand will take place in Auckland from 29 September to 2 October.