This was followed by three second placings ahead of lunchtime service, on shire roads that would normally have offered more predictable performance.
But the soaked surfaces made it more of a lottery – making Taylor’s progress all the more impressive.
Cancellation of the final pre-lunch stage, SS16, gave Subaru do a slender 3.1 second lead ahead of the final four afternoon stages.
A change to medium compound tyres for the afternoon helped deliver consistent performances that culminated in a well-earned win on the Heat’s final stage, SS20 – the second run through the heat’s longest contest, at 19.08 km.
Results across both heats were sufficient to deliver the 2019 CAMS Australian Rally Championship to Bates, distinguishing himself as the youngest ever title-holder at the age of 24 – the previous youngest being Taylor with her 2016 win.
Molly said: “All credit to Harry on winning the title with one round remaining.
“We certainly gave him a run for his money today and it’s a great feeling when everything comes together and we realise the potential.
“We had a big fight on our hands going into this afternoon’s stages.
“Tyre choice was a bit of a gamble this morning, which probably cost us time on the initial shire road stages.
“But the car felt great overall and confirmed what we thought about its ability.
“We went from sunny and beautiful to absolutely pouring rain on the first two stages.
“The first two clay-based forest stages were different to all the others on the heat and super slippery with rain, which made it good fun!
“It’s nice to know that ultimately we got the judgement right and everything came together, which gives us heaps of confidence going into Coffs Harbour.”
The final round of the series in November also forms a leg of the World Rally Championship and gives Subaru do every chance of elevating to second in the 2019 series.
*Subject to CAMS final confirmation.