Subaru Rally Team Australia driver, Cody Crocker, is in a strong position after day one of the Subaru Rally of Canberra and will tackle tomorrow determined to add this Asia-Pacific Championship round to the World Championship Group N title he won in New Zealand a fortnight ago.
But first he will have to hold off team mate Dean Herridge, who won this event last year and is just 9.2 seconds behind in his Impreza WRX STi.
The two Subaru drivers have a handy buffer over the reset of the field. In third place is Jussi Valimaki from Finland who is a further 48.5 seconds back, 57.7 seconds from the lead. Experienced Japanese driver, Toshi Arai, is in fourth place in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi, 59.5 seconds off the lead.
Subaru also lead the Manufacturers’ battle, taking day one honours ahead of Toyota , who competed in the Subaru Capital Rally category with their hybrid car.
The Canberra roads provided huge challenges for all competitors. The rough roads produced plenty of dust early, forcing officials to move to a three-minute gap between cars.
Crocker was delighted with his day.
“We’re stoked with the way the day has gone, but we’re not getting carried away,” Crocker said.
“This is Canberra, and it’s one of the toughest events we do. I’ve got plenty of respect for the course and our competitors and know we have another big day ahead tomorrow.”
“The dust was a problem early on but the afternoon was fantastic. The car was great. There are a few things we can improve, so we know we can go even faster, but at this stage in the car’s development, things are good, really good.”
“We made a good call on tyres this afternoon. We went for a hard compound and that really worked for us.”
“We’re first on the road tomorrow but I don’t se that as a disadvantage. We only use a few new stages, most are a repeat from today, so the roads being swept won’t be an issue.”
Herridge had a few issues during the day, but was content with his second position.
“We’re really pleased were we are placed’” said Herridge. “Of course we wouldn’t mind being in front, but we took no undue risks and we’re still in a good spot at the half way mark of the rally.”
“We had our challenges early on. I had this intermittent centre diff problem. Apparently the handbrake was getting triggered occasionally and it was really interfering with the car. The boys sorted it out and this afternoon the car was as good as it’s been.”
“We probably didn’t make the best tyre choices in the morning but this afternoon we went for a wider medium compound tyre and that worked really well.”
“Tomorrow is also going to be very tricky. I hope they go for a three minute gap early on as the dust can be really bad first thing.”
The Subaru Rally of Canberra will conclude around 4pm on Sunday, April 24.
Silverstone team leading Kiwi’s in Asia Pacific Rally opener
Opening the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Manawatu driver Geof Argyle completed leg 1 of the Subaru Rally Canberra as second placed Mitsubishi today.
Under the clear calm skies of Australia’s Capital Territory, dust was the competitor’s foe, as they fought for visibility. Argyle set a comfortable pace in his Silverstone Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII to finish third placed Asia Pacific Rally Championship car, with a puncture the only major problem encountered during the day.
Having completed ten of the eighteen stages, Argyle is second Mitsubishi behind five Subaru’s.
“A lot of positives today,” said Argyle at the end of the first day. “We are close – in the hunt. We’re now inside that 1-second a kilometre mark, which is hard when you are chasing local guys who are specialists on roads like this.”
“We punctured when we hit a large rock in the road – and we weren’t the only ones, but we probably got away the lightest, losing about 30 seconds. But we’ve still got a comfortable class placing and if the weather helps clear the dust then tomorrow will be a different day.”
Brian Green, second car in the Silverstone Tyres Rally Team had a very pleasing day, as he came to grips with the new ‘dog’ style gearbox the two cars are using.
“I’m very pleased with the car, it ran grouse – thanks to the crew. But it all worked well and I was a lot happier once we had the 3-minute start gap, conditions were so much easier to drive in.”
With an early 5:25am start tomorrow, leading Kiwi Geof Argyle and second placed Kiwi Brian Green complete the final special stage at the Fairbairn Park Super Special at 3:00pm before the 3:30pm ceremonial finish.
Results – Leg One – Subaru Rally of Canberra – Saturday April 23, 2005 (Provisional)
1 C Crocker (AUS)/D Moscatt (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 1:27:03.8
2 D Herridge (AUS)/Bhayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 1:27:13.0 +9.2secs
3 J Valimaki (FIN)/ J Kalliolepo (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 1:28:01.5 +57.7
4 T Arai (J)/T Sircombe (NZ) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 1:28:03.3 +59.5
5 J Kangas (FIN) /J Rabbett (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 1:28:17.3 +1:13.5
6 B Goldsbrough (AUS)/P Humm (AUS) Subaru Inmpreza WRX STi 1:30:13.6 +3:09.8
7 G Argyle (NZ)/J Sinclair (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 1:30:23.7 +3:19.9
8 S Pedder (AUS)/G Weston (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 1:31:55.4 +4:51.6