Rally legend completes triumphant return

Harry Bates and Coral Taylor on the top step of the podium. Pic: Gears and Wheels Photography

CORAL Taylor has won her first Australian Rally Championship in 15 years, this time with the son of her former teammate.

Taylor, the mother of international off-road ace Molly, won her first four ARC crowns alongside Neal Bates.

Back for a full 2023 campaign, she helped Harry Bates overhaul brother Lewis in a thrilling duel that climaxed over the weekend.

Lewis and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin had been on the verge of back-to-back titles until the rival Bates/Taylor combination clawed their way back to win both the EROAD Power Stage and the Rally of Canberra outright – enough to snatch the championship by one point.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m totally lost for words,” said Bates, who also won the 2019 championship.

“It’s been a really, really up-and-down year and for it to culminate in this in front of so many Canberrans, it’s incredible to see so many fans out here to witness it.

Harry Bates and Coral Taylor in action. Pic: Supplied

“There is a lot of relief right now and I’m just so happy that we’re able to do the job.

“It’s just amazing to have my team right here behind me – an incredibly hard-working group of guys and girls who also deserve a round of applause – and obviously to have my family here as well, it’s emotional. I just can’t believe it’s my second ARC title.

“It didn’t all go exactly to plan this weekend. We had a lot going on in the car and obviously the battle between Lewis and I was very tight, but we had to make sure that we were keeping up our intensity because Lewis and Anthony were on fire this weekend.

“The fact that the battle came down to 3.9 seconds for the event is just crazy. It took a lot of mental strength to get through this weekend.”

Canberra will host the 2024 season-opener on April 5-7.

Connor O’Brien joined V8 Sleuth in 2022 as website Editor. He won the Supercars Media Award in 2017 while working as a sports reporter at the Gold Coast Bulletin, before stints at Supercars and Speedcafe. During his time at V8 Sleuth he's twice (2022, 2023) been named Journalist of the Year at the Supercars Media Awards.