Neal Bates wins Peter Brock medal
Four-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates has won the prestigious Peter Brock Medal for his contribution to motor sport in the community.
The award from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) provides Bates with a unique double in motor sport.
Bates becomes the only person to receive both the Brock Medal and the Phil Irving Award for engineering excellence.
Toyota, Bates’ long-term commercial partner throughout his professional career, has joined in congratulating him on achievement. CAMS inaugurated the Brock Medal in 2011 and the Irving Award in 1994 to honour the two great contributors to Australian motor sport.
Brock was four times Australian Touring Car Champion and nine times Bathurst endurance winner while Irving was the designer of the multiple world championship winning Repco Brabham engine.
‘‘I was overwhelmed when I received the Irving Award in 2007,’’ Bates, 48, of Canberra said.
‘‘The Brock Medal was totally unexpected and incredibly humbling.’’
Bates won the Phil Irving Award for the work of his Toyota team in designing and building a series of Corolla rally cars capable of international competition. The Corollas won three Australian titles, once driven by Bates and codriver Coral Taylor and twice by husband and wife team Simon and Sue Evans. The Peter Brock Medal has previously recognised the contribution of two V8 Supercar stars, the late Jason Richards and last year’s recipient Craig Lowndes.
Bates and Brock provide a mirror image of motor sport success in Australia.
Brock won his four national titles on tarmac and occasionally competed successfully on gravel, including winning the 1979 Repco Round Australia Trial.
Bates won his four titles on gravel and competed occasionally on tarmac, including class victory in the Bathurst 1000 and winning Targa Tasmania.
Bates’ association with Brock predates his rise to professional prominence when he won the Toyota Star Search competition as part of the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1979.‘‘Three years prior to Star Search Peter invited me along with a group of young drivers to test his Commodore at Calder Park — not so much to become team mates but to encourage us,’’ Bates said.
Bates has sought to emulate Brock in giving back to the sport.
He and co-driver Taylor have participated in driver education programs and mentored young drivers, including Taylor’s daughter Molly who last year won the inaugural European Rally Championship Ladies’ Trophy.
‘‘It’s important to be able to pass on the knowledge,’’ Bates said.
Neal Bates and Coral Taylor celebrate victory in the 2008 Australian Rally Championship