I had the pleasure to speak to Dean Herridge on the phone a few days ago when I went through the latest Australian Rally Championship round with him from last weekend at Rally Launceston in Tasmania.
We’ve talked about the following topics such as:
- Irish luck with Shamrock Motorsport.
- Lewis Bates’s remarkable recovery from the early Saturday heat rounds.
- Hometown success from Tasmania’s own Eddie Maguire.
- Coral Taylor’s one-off return to the co-driving role this time with Harry Bates.
- And we round off a brief next round preview at Rally Queensland in a few weeks time on the 22nd-24th later this month. Plus, will anyone stop Harry at the moment with an outlook on his next career goals.
We also have a video version of my interview below:
- Irish Luck with Shamrock Motorsport: They had a great weekend start on Saturday but luckily kept 2nd despite a poor Sunday run. What do you think of the duo (Richie Dalton & Dale Moscatt) right now?
Richie (Dalton) has back-to-back podiums, so in the past, we were joking about the Irish and his luck as he has been a bit unlucky in and around the series (Australian Rally Championship) for a long time. He stepped into various cars and now drives one of the ex-factory Toyotas – bringing in a generation to find some form. So, he moved with pretty good speed – probably similar to Lewis (Bates) at the moment. Their back-to-back podium finishes seem to have pleased them as well.
- How did Lewis Bates recover from that poor start on Saturday and then work his way back into the final podium spot in 3rd?
Yeah, what’s happening is more of our sprint rounds; we only have the heats, so someplace like Day 1 – you lock away points, and that’s your points for Saturday. Despite a dismal Saturday, they were lucky to get into the Top 4 thanks to a much better Sunday performance. They had to start back at zero on Sunday for Heat 2 stages.
Obviously, Harry went on to win again this time, followed by Lewis in 2nd. His (Lewis’s) points tally of a 2nd and a 4th is the same as Richie (Dalton) in the Shamrock car (Toyota Yaris). Richie had a really poor Sunday in comparison. They were equal on points; Richie ultimately gets 2nd on the podium through a countback- total time on the weekend. Points from Saturday and Sunday are added together to get the round result that we saw on the podium. Lewis was lucky to get on the podium despite having troubles with Heat 1 on Saturday.
Young Troy Dowel missed out by one point, so he got two-thirds which is a great result. But he was just one point away from being on the podium. As I said, a 2nd and a 4th are better than two-thirds in terms of how the points structure works, and that came about.
- Hometown hero: How did you react to the Tasmanian success story in none other than Eddie Maguire?
It’s not unusual because Eddie (Maguire) is an excellent driver. He won Targa Tasmania on the tarmac several times in one of those Dodge Vipers. He’s got a great pedigree and is a very talented driver; he doesn’t do as much on the main gravel rallying. So it was great to see some locals step up from their state series (Tasmanian Rally Championship), including the ARC (Australian Rally Championship) and the Hoosier Control Tyres. As you mentioned, he (Eddie) ended up being the top of the production class. It is not a surprise because the production cars are slightly older and heavier; they’re not expected to take on the likes of the Toyota and the R5 cars. But ultimately, Eddie’s a class act and did a great job as expected.
- I also saw you on the post-rally coverage with Coral Taylor on how she has her retro racing suit and hat on while she filled in the weekend as Harry Bates’s co-driver?
Obviously, she’s (Coral) not been competing. I’d use the word definitely, but she’s a legend of the sport (rallying in Australia). She’s been around for 30-plus years; She’s won four championships and also won Targa Tasmania with Neal Bates. They’re obviously the most winning combination in the Australian Rally Championship history with 29-round wins. She currently has 34-round wins herself – just one behind Possum Bourne.
She stepped in because Harry’s usual co-driver, John McCarthy, couldn’t be here due to contracting COVID in the lead-up. She was the fill-in co-driver brought in as someone who wasn’t effectively competing. Still, she was a highly experienced co-driver to step into the role. That was a great result for them as she won another round, and it was surprising that she had a current race suit on when she was just filling in.
She wasn’t entirely…well…the decision was made on Tuesday prior to the event (Rally Launceston) for that change (of co-driver role with Harry Bates). So, at the end of the day, the deputy (Coral) was there to get the pace notes sorted. Harry has different pace notes than everyone else; you have to learn them, get on board, do the reconnects on Thursday and Friday and then get in the car, and obviously, he’s top on pace. Coral did an outstanding job stepping in, and she’s as good as anyone to step in as a co-driver again.
- Can anyone stop Harry Bates and John McCarthy from winning in Rally Queensland in a few weeks’ time?
No, not that sort of problem. I don’t think so. I believe this is a challenging position – probably Eli Evans is as good as he goes. In Perth, he showed pace in that mini, but he has reliability issues. On speed, it’s only going to be someone like Eli Evans who can do it close. Otherwise, I think I spoke before of Richie’s (Dalton) naivety to be able to set a pace for each other; Other people who are pretty new to it are learning a little bit. So, I think they’ll have their issues and it will be tough to stop them (H. Bates & McCarthy), as you suggest.
The difficult part of Harry’s (Bates) now and career is that they will only likely win the Australian Rally Championship again. It will be his second title. It was a difficult period through COVID as we couldn’t crown a champion back in 2020 with a couple more on the line. Because he’s young, he should try and go overseas to find opportunities and fight; He needs the battles. Although he scored wins and dominated the ARC series at the start, you’re always learning.
The next phase is to learn how to win under pressure and fight for second place – at the moment, he’s not really under that pressure. For now, his career is all on winning the Australian Rally Championship, and many people would love to do that. But for sure, he would like to try and get that experience overseas. I believe that’s where he thinks about how good it can be in the long term, how it fits in with their Toyota deal, and his arrangements, funding, and the possibility of competing overseas to improve if he had the option to do so.