In its place comes a new car and what a remarkable story this is.
The Toyota Yaris, a car from the less than sexy, less than sporty, light car category.
You know those pathology cars that get about and have “Urgent Medical Delivery” on the side? Well, that’s exactly what this car was.
Purchased by Neal Bates and his son Harry from a used car lot on Parramatta Rd in Sydney, the car is now ready to take on the final two stages of the 2017 Australian Rally Championship (ARC).
But its taken a lot of work to get to Adelaide where the car will make its debut on the rally track today.
I’m on hand for that debut at Rally SA, remarkably Neal tell us the car was still being built up until yesterday – a look at the hands of the World Championship, ARC and V8 Supercars drivers would attest to this.
The new car also marks a big change for the Bates Senior, and Junior, it’s essentially the anointment of Harry as the team’s main driver.
Harry takes over from his famous dad in the Toyota-backed team and Neal told us its been difficult making the transition to ‘team manager’.
Neal, and his longtime co-driver/navigator, Coral Taylor, have spoken at this event about Neal’s anxiety about having his son take to the grueling rally circuits of Australia, and possibly further afield.
Interestingly, the new Yaris was converted to left-hand drive, so the car could possibly compete in the future on the global stage.
It’s also been converted to all-wheel drive – that must be a world first for a Yaris.
While under the bonnet there’s not your usual 63kW engine, instead, the rally car has a 1.6 litre turbocharged powerplant that produces a hefty 224kW/420Nm!
And why choose a Yaris for the new rally car? Neal explained that the current Corolla was a little too big, why the Yaris has the advantage of having the wheels out in the corners of the car and this provides even better stability,
We’ll bring you more details, including a look at what its like being a passenger in a rally car, on the weekend.