An opportunity arose through ARC rival Luke Anear, who has also previously stated his intent to contest selected World Rally Championship rounds to test the latest hybrid model built to the Rally1 regulation set introduced for the 2022 season.
Anear enjoys a long relationship with M-Sport having driven various variants of the Ford Fiesta R5 developed by the team during the previous five seasons.
Joined by co-driver Malcolm Read, the duo completed the test in the Greystoke Forest before ending the day on tarmac stages. Bates was able to reflect on the test favourably as he targets a partial campaign overseas in 2024 after it was confirmed he will again contest the ARC with Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia.
“The experience was mind blowing,” Bates said.
“We started testing at 8am and finished in the dark at 5.30pm.
“I knew the Rally1 car was going to be fast, but until you get behind the wheel of one, it's hard to comprehend.
“The power with the hybrid is just incredible, the whole car does everything very well – they are amazing machines.
“I can't thank Luke and SafetyCulture enough for the incredible opportunity, as well as the team at M-Sport for doing a great job getting me up to speed. I felt comfortable straight away so a big thank you to them.
“I learned so much from the whole experience and loved every second of it. I would love to do something overseas next year, but let's see what happens.”
Bates previously won the ARC title in 2022, but narrowly lost the crown this year in a thrilling finale to brother Harry.
The last Australian World Rally Championship regular was Chris Atkinson, who scored six podiums from 77 events primarily with the Subaru World Rally Team.