Current RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship leader Harry Bates has been working tirelessly in preparation for his WRC2 debut at Rally New Zealand this weekend.
The Canberran, alongside long-time co-driver John McCarthy, will undergo three days of reconnaissance before the rally commences on Thursday.
Paired with a Skoda Fabia Evo 2 R5 as a one-off to challenge the FIA World Rally Championship’s finest and fastest in the WRC2 class, Bates has also completed over a week’s worth of intense testing in New Zealand throughout September.
“It has been a big build up but we are excited to finally be here at Rally New Zealand,” Bates said.
“It has been an intense month of preparation with the next three days of recce critical to our chances for the four days of rallying.”
“I’m just hoping to enjoy the experience, I don’t have any real expectations other than to ensure I am getting the best out of myself.”
The event is scheduled to begin on Thursday, where 29 crews will battle it across 276 competitive kilometres across 17 stages throughout the weekend.
Friday will play host to a massive 156 kilometre schedule that will challenge the driver’s fitness and endurance across the day, before shorter spells wrap up the weekend on the Saturday and Sunday.
Bates was thrilled with the amount of support he has received from his Australian fans and looks forward to the challenge of the WRC.
“Honestly, it’s a challenge I'm really looking forward to,” Bates said.
“I'm certainly feeling a huge amount of support from Australians - so many people are coming to New Zealand to support us, and so many more who are sending their wishes from back home
“I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous, but equally keen to get out on these incredible stages and see what we can do.”
Bates and McCarthy are not the only Australian contingent, with Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis also competing in the WRC2 class aboard a Ford Fiesta R5. The pair have enjoyed a long stint in Europe throughout 2022, competing in Sardinia and Estonia.
New Zealand Supercars hero Shane van Gisbergen, who made his first ARC appearance at the season opening Netier National Capital Rally, will be joined by three-time Motorsport Australia Rally Champion co-driver Glen Weston calling the notes in the Supercheap Auto Skoda Fabia R5.
There are many spectator points available at the event for any fans wanting to watch Bates and McCarthy in action, while those unable to make the journey can subscribe to WRC+ and watch the live stream here. Local coverage is also available on Stan Sport.
The 2022 Rally New Zealand will take place in the Auckland region on 29 September–2 October.