Just six seconds separated the top three drivers after Friday’s opening leg of the Subaru Rally of Canberra, round one of this year’s 2002 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
Ed Ordynski (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 – pictured right) will start Saturday’s second leg with a 5.7sec lead over fellow Australian Cody Crocker in a Subaru Impreza STi. Crocker’s team mate, former Asia-Pacific and reigning Australian champion Possum Bourne of New Zealand ended leg one in third place, just 0.2secs further behind.
Bourne took an early lead on the rally, but lost the lead to Ordynski with a poor tyre choice, and then dropped behind Crocker after hitting a tree. “I feel a little fortunate to be leading, because we have driven hard and taken some big risks,” said Ordynski. “It has paid off, and we are in the ideal position for tomorrow’s stages.”
The leading trio are all driving Group N cars, are are fourth and fifth places Australians Spencer Lowndes (Mitsubishi) and Dean Herridge (Subaru).
Bourne is the only one of the top five registered for this year’s Asia-Pacific series. Fellow New Zealanders Geof Argyle and Andrew Hawkeswood – both in Group A Lancers – were the second and third placed Asia-Pacific drivers at the end of the leg, at sixth and ninth overall respectively.
Of the other major Asia-Pacific contenders, Nico Caldorola (Italy – pictured right) was 11th after a day spent sorting out minor bugs in his new Top Run Team Lancer Evo 7. John Lloyd (England, Impreza) lay 17th, and Brian Green (New Zealand, Lancer) 18th.
Monster Tajima (Japan, Suzuki Ignis) was 23rd, and Naren Kumar (India, Lancer Evo 7) 24th.
Making his debut in a Hyundai Accent WRC, Malaysian rising star Saladin Mazlan climbed back to 27th after losing time in an early crash, setting third-fastest time on the leg’s final stage.
Kenyan Alistair Cavenagh was also playing catch up after having no brakes for the first three stages, and had reached 28th by the overnight halt.
Defending Asia-Pacific Champion Karamjit Singh (Proton) was forced out with gearbox problems, as was leading New Zealander Reece Jones (Lancer). Both will rejoin the rally for leg two after completing gearbox changes overnight.