Rally of Canberra Day 2

Overnight leader Ed Ordynski tightened his stranglehold on this year’s Rally of Canberra in an action-packed second leg that severely dented the hopes of his leading Subaru-mounted rivals.

Ordynski, driving a Group N Lancer Evo VII, ended the leg with a 1m32sec lead over top placed Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) contender Possum Bourne. Spencer Lowndes, Ordynski’s Ralliart Australia team mate, was third, a further 20secs behind.

Early in the leg Bourne powered into the lead. Two stages from home, though, his Group N Subaru Impreza STi suffered a broken driveshaft. Forced to limp through the day’s final two stages, Bourne saw his narrow 10 sec lead transformed into a deficit that he admits is too great to close over the rally’s final leg.

Bourne’s problem came hard on the heels of a gearbox failure that claimed his team mate Dean Herridge, who had been handily placed in sixth. Worse followed for Subaru when second-placed Cody Crocker rolled heavily after failing to follow a pace note call from his co-driver. Although mechanically OK, the car sustained extremely heavy panel damage, and was withdrawn from the event at the end of the leg.

Battling a niggling engine problem all day, New Zealander Geof Argyle (Lancer – pictured right) managed to hold onto fourth place in the face of a sensational challenge from impressive 22-year old Australian Chris Atkinson (Lancer). Two more Australian’s – brothers Scott and Mark Pedder – ended leg two in sixth and seventh places.

Nico Caldarola improved to eighth place as his new Top Run Team Lancer Evo 7 was fine-tuned over the course of the day, and the Italian was happy to end the leg as the third-placed APRC driver.

Malaysian driver Saladin Mazlan (pictured left) has an even bigger smile on his face. He recorded his first ever special stage win on an International event today on this, his first drive of the Hyundai Accent WRC. On the comeback trail after a crash on the rally’s opening stage, the 26 year old gained confidence with every kilometre as he climbed from 27th to 14th overall and fourth in the APRC standings.

John Lloyd and Brian Green ended the leg in 15th and 16th in their Lancers, with Green two places clear of Japanese driver Nobuhiro Tajima, who lead the rally’s Super 1600cc category in his Suzuki Ignis. Amongst the other APRC contenders, Harau Takakuwa (Japan, Impreza STi) was 21st, one place ahead of India’s Naren Kumar (Lancer Evo 7).

APRC casualties included Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 drivers Andrew Hawkeswood (New Zealand) and Alistair Cavenagh (Kenya). Hawkeswood rolled from ninth into temporary retirement after hitting a culvert on the morning’s third stage, while Cavenagh was out with worsening gearbox problems on the day’s second stage.

Both drivers will rejoin the event for the third and final leg in a bid to score APRC bonus points.

Adding those bonus points to their tally for leg two was the aim of defending APRC champion Karamjit Singh (Malaysia, Proton – pictured right) and Reece Jones (New Zealand, Lancer Evo 6), both of who had been sidelined by gearbox problems on the opening leg.

Jones, with a string of top ten times during the day, was successful in his bid. Karamjit Singh, however, slid off the road on the day’s final stage and retired.

Tomorrow’s final leg of the Canberra event features seven stages totalling some 105km.