Overnight leader Ed Ordynski was confirmed as the winner of the 2002 Rally of Canberra after an action-packed final leg that saw only 19 of the day’s 33 starters reach the finish, and only 15 cars complete the whole event.
Top-placed Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contender Possum Bourne was the most significant casualty, his Subaru Impreza being forced out after a jammed gearbox three stages from the end led to engine problems.
“The gearbox stuck in second, and then maybe I over-revved the car trying to nurse it to the end,” the New Zealander explained. “That caused the turbo to go, and by the time we had stopped to check the oil and cruised on to the final regroup we were over time by 15 seconds.”
Australian Mitsubishi drivers Spencer Lowndes and Chris Atkinson, who had been placed third and fifth overnight, both crashed into retirement. And, with New Zealander Geof Argyle’s Lancer Evo 6 slowed by overheating, Australian Scott Pedder was able to sneak his Evo 6 ahead for a fine second-placing
Behind Argyle, who has made a last-minute decision not to enter this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Australian Mark Lintott claimed fourth place.
A surprised and delighted Nico Caldarola (pictured left) climbed from eighth to fifth, claiming first place and the Group N win amongst the APRC field in his Top Run Lancer Evo 7.
Two places behind, New Zealander Brian Green (Lancer Evo 6) was the only other Asia-Pacific series driver to complete the who event. However fellow Kiwi Reece Jones and Kenyan Alistair Cavenagh took advantage of the restart provision to score bonus APRC points on the final day.
Their gain came at the expense of several other APRC drivers who were less fortunate.
Saladin Mazlin (Malaysia, Hyundai Accent WRC) and John Lloyd (England, Impreza) were both forced out after crashing, in Lloyd’s case into a kangaroo that ventured onto the road. Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima (pictured right) also hit a kangaroo, and retired his Suzuki Ignis soon afterwards with a broken driveshaft.
Naren Kumar (India, Lancer Evo 7) and Haruo Takakuwa (Japan, Impreza) also lost the chance to score APRC points after retiring. Kumar’s exit came after he hit a rock and broke a driveshaft. Takakuwa damaged his car after hitting a bank. Andrew Hawkeswood (New Zealand, Lancer Evo 6) has rejoined for third leg in the chase for bonus points, but tore a wheel off his car.
Caldarola’s APRC win and bonus points score on the first and third legs gives him a provisional 13 points in series. Green is second with six points, ahead of Bourne (5), Jones (4), Saladin Mazlan (3), Hawkewood (2), and Cavenagh (1). Caldarola also leads the Group N division of the series from Bourne, Jones, Cavenagh and Kumar.
The next APRC round is the Rally of New Caledonia, from 31 May to 2 June.