Rally a family affair for Bates boys

Neal Bates with his 1980 Toyota Celica rally car. Photo: Jay CronanIt’s usually parents telling their children what to do in the driver’s seat, but 18-year-old Harry Bates gets to reverse roles this weekend.

Bates will be giving orders from the navigator’s seat to his father and four-time Australian Rally champion Neal Bates, during the International Rally of Queensland.

Neal Bates’ long-time navigator Coral Taylor is away in Europe, but he had no hesitation putting his faith in his son.

The father and son duo have driven together in rallies in Canberra, but nothing at the level of the Queensland Rally.

”Harry said he was very keen to do it, it will be a good experience for him,” Bates snr said.

”The stages in Queensland are very technical, it will be a very difficult rally for a new co-driver, probably a difficult one for him to start.”

Bates snr will be defending his title but is not putting any extra pressure on Harry.

”So far in testing he has been doing a very good job. This will be his first full rally, it’s a lot of concentration, for long periods of time.

”I don’t have any preconceived conceptions, other than that we go and enjoy it. If Harry is struggling to keep up, so be it.”

Harry has spent the last week preparing for the rally by learning as much as he could from Taylor. The two studied in-car footage and pace notes from last year’s event.

”I’m pretty excited, it will be a pretty big challenge, I’ve never done anything like this before,” Harry said.

However, a future in navigating is not on Harry’s mind.

”I’ve actually spoken to dad about this during the week, he doesn’t really want me to become a navigator. I think he will be too nervous with me sitting next to someone else.”

Instead Harry is looking to follow his father into driving.

”Driving is definitely something I’m interested in. So perhaps next year I will head in that direction.”

The International Rally of Queensland begins on Friday night and will run through to Sunday.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.