27 December 2022

Canberra’s Bates family continues to dominate Australian rallying

| Tim Gavel
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Canberra's rallying brothers Harry and Lewis Bates remain in training.

Canberra’s rallying brothers Harry and Lewis Bates. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

When Lewis Bates secured the 2022 Australian Rally Title in Coffs Harbour in November, he secured a place in history.

No other family has had three family members secure the title.

Lewis’s brother Harry won in 2019 and should have his name on the Possum Bourne Trophy three times but was thwarted by the limitations imposed by COVID-19 and torrential rain in 2020/2021.

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Their father, the legendary Neal Bates, won the Australian championship four times including three in a row in 1993, 1994 and 1995, before returning 13 years later to win his fourth in 2008 with co-driver Coral Taylor.

In the final round in Coffs Harbour in 2022, Harry crashed out with two stages to go. Lewis and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin went on to finish second and secure the title.

Harry Bates captured at the 2021 Netier National Capital Rally in 2021. Photo: Jack Martin Photography.

Harry Bates at the 2021 Netier National Capital Rally. Photo: Jack Martin Photography.

While disappointed for Harry, Lewis was over the moon. “It’s obviously a dream come true for Anthony and myself. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s what we’ve been working towards,” he said.

The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Lewis. “It is special to have all three family members on the Possum Bourne Memorial trophy,” he said.

The trophy is even more significant given the battles Neal Bates had with the Kiwi Possum Bourne who died in a non-race car crash in New Zealand in 2003 aged just 47.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor at the 2015 National Capital Rally. Image courtesy of CAMS Australian Rally Championship.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor at the 2015 National Capital Rally. Photo: CAMS Australian Rally Championship.

The Bates family work together in the family business building rally cars in Canberra. It’s a highly successful operation.

Dad Neal manages the business overseeing the operation. Lewis is a mechanic on the floor while Harry works upstairs in logistics.

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After winning in Coffs Harbour the focus for Lewis and Harry quickly turned to the 2023 season confident that it wouldn’t be impacted by COVID-19.

The first round takes place in Tasmania in March.

Between now and then there is plenty of work to do. “We are now working to improve the car ahead of next season,” Lewis said.

Both Lewis and Harry would love to see their names on the Possum Bourne trophy a few times.

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