Neal Bates, the four-time Australian Rally Championship title holder, believes the future for his Canberra-built S2000 Corollas is in the APRC.
Quoted on carsguide.com.au, Bates said “We have homologation now in S2000 and we’re looking to see what we can do with the cars. I’d like to take the Corolla into the Asia-Pacific championship and I’d like to see what Simon (Evans) could do with one. We have the two cars we ran in Rally Australia and we’ve got a new car nearly finished back in Canberra”.
Running as the Toyota factory team, Bates drove the S2000 Corolla to an ARC crown last year, while former team-mate Evans used Bates-built Group N(P) Corollas to claim twin titles in 2006 and 2007. When Toyota Australia pulled out of the local championship at the beginning of 2008, the Bates team contracted to a single-car effort. Evans returned as a privateer, and driving a Race Torque built Lancer took his third championship win this year, while Bates struggled on a limited budget for third in the series.
“There was an enormous amount of interest in the Corolla. It looks as if we might have already sold a car to New Caledonia,” says Bates. “It has taken us about four years to get where we are. The total cost of the project is a couple of million dollars. If we had a Simon Evans in one of the Corollas (at Rally Australia) I’m sure he could have won PWRC and been well into the top 10 overall. He is fast and the Toyota is a competitive package.”