Toyota Shakedown: Yaris Vs Vitz!
The Netier National Canberra Rally brings a diverse array of cars and crews to the forest roads that ring the Australian capital. Along with the WRXs and EVOs that reigned supreme during the Group N era, this year the leading crews will feature a trio of R5-spec Skodas and a pair of Peugeots.
But the most interesting battle may be between two Toyotas; in one corner the TRD/Cusco-prepared 4WD Toyota Vitz, and in the other corner the Neal Bates Motorsport AP4-spec Toyota Yaris. The same donor car built to similar regulations, but from very different perspectives.
And although we only saw the Vitz complete five special stages at Rally Whangarei, it showed plenty of speed. Even while wrestling handling problems that lead to a spin and eventual retirement, Young completed Saturdays opening 30km stage just over 40 seconds behind the Hyundai i20 AP4 of current WRC driver Hayden Paddon.
But he beat the rest of the field, which included Emma Gilmore’s well-sorted Suzuki, Matt Summerfield’s Mirage AP4 and Ben Hunt’s WRX, all of who currently sit in the top-4 on the New Zealand Rally Championship.
Having debuted at last years Rally South Australia, the Bates Yaris is also new with only four events under its belt. Like the Vitz, mechanical issues saw the new car DNF on debut. But Harry Bates then took the car to its maiden victory at the Victorian round of the Australian Rally Championship in March, and after crashing out of the first leg of the Forest rally in April, fought back to claim second place on day two.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge of going up against Harry and the Bates Toyota AP4”, Perth-based Mike Young commented. “It’s a good level playing field to see how the Cusco TRD Vitz compares. We saw in Whangarei that its just as fast as the more developed AP4 cars in NZ.”
Photos courtesy of APSM.TV, Gemma Lucas – Drift Images, Toyota Australia, and Geoff Ridder