Crocker makes it three straight national titles for Subaru

Subaru Rally Team Australia has stretched its hold on the Subaru Rally of Canberra title to three years, with Cody Crocker winning the 2005 title in the nation’s capital today.

Crocker won this event in 2003 with team mate Dean Herridge taking the honours last year. However today, Herridge was forced to settle for second place, finishing 28.9 seconds behind Crocker.

Subaru took a clean sweep of the podium, with Juha Kangas, driving for Les Walkden Rallying, taking third place two minutes 12.5 seconds off the pace. Another Subaru, driven by Japan’s Toshi Arai , was in fourth place, just 1.8 seconds further back.

Subaru also took the maximum points in their quest for a sixth straight ARC Manufacturers’ title and it as also the first time that Crocker and Herridge have finished one, two at an event.

Herridge went into the day 15.1 seconds behind Crocker, after his time was adjusted last night when officials corrected the time allocated to him on SS8, the Super Special Stage at Fairburn Park.

But the West Australian came out attacking on the opening stages of Leg Two, and after the first three had reduced Crocker’s buffer to 4.6 seconds.

The cars finished the group of five stages in the Kowen Forest. Crocker has long shown a liking for these stages and he returned to the service park with a 10.3 second advantage.

Herridge and co-driver Bill Hayes had experienced their own problems on the fourth and fifth stages of the day and returned to the service park to watch their crew change their gearbox within the allocated 20 minutes service time.

The cars then completed a single run over the 1.82 kilometre Super Special Stage and returned for a ten-minute service. Herridge’s team was told that the rules precluded a tyre change, and because they had not changed the tyres used on the opening five stages at the earlier service, he was forced to go out and drive the final four stages and 60.61 kilometres on the same set. By day’s end, the one combination of Pirellis had done 129.73 kilometres.

Crocker drew away over the final stages and Herridge had to settle for second place.

Crocker, along with co-driver Dale Moscatt, took the Group N title in New Zealand a fortnight ago and the pair was delighted to notch up their second win in a row.

“This is a perfect start to a season that is all about defending our Australian Rally Championship driver’s title and the manufacturers’ for Subaru,” Crocker said.

“If this can happen all year I’ll be a very happy man.”

“I felt really comfortable in the car all weekend. This afternoon I drove every stage with the same approach and the good times just kept on coming. I never had to try and do something extra, it just all flowed. When you get the right combination of car set-up and tyres it gives you amazing confidence.”

Herridge was philosophical at the end of his day.

“I leave here knowing that Bill and I are working well and that we are fast, Herridge said.

“It is still a really good result for us and it is a great outcome for the team.”

“Last year I won in New Zealand and Canberra, and Cody won the Championship. Now he’s won those first two events so maybe it is my time to win the Australian Championship,” he quipped.

Kiwi driver finishes third in Asia Pacific Rally Championship round

In his first event for the year Asia Pacific Rally Championship contender Geof Argyle finished third in the class at the Subaru Rally of Canberra today.

After a 5:30am start to the day, the team completed the remaining eight stages in the event to finish at 3:30pm Australian time.

As well as scoring for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Argyle also helped the Mitsubishi team score manufacturer points with his third placed Lancer EVO VIII.

Finishing first Kiwi home, Argyle set third equal fastest time in today’s first run of the Super Special stage, after switching to a wider tyre at the service break.

“I made a bad call on tyres for this mornings four stages, and so did a few locals. I decided on a more narrow tyre for safety really, thinking they were the right ones, but once we changed at the service we were away again,” said Argyle.

While dust was still a factor in the forest stages around Canberra, Geof Argyle and co-driver Grant Marra were pleased to return to the finish on the outskirts of the city, after eighteen stages spread over two days.

“It was a good solid start to the championship; we came away with good points and are now in a good position for the next round in New Caledonia.

With a large gap to the second placed Asia Pacific car, Argyle opted for a more relaxed day rather than a charge.

“The gap was too big, it wasn’t worth risking the car today, I kept a conservative pace to save our gear which means we won’t have much work to do before the next one.

The Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen second car in the Silverstone Rally Team also had a trouble-free run, with the car returning to the finish free of any injury.

“Apart from dust it was a good weekend. Everything feels quite good, even though it took a while to get used to the gearbox, but I’m now on top of that and we’ve been able to have a great time.”

The Silverstone Tyres Rally Team now spends the next two days preparing and packing the cars in to the teams shipping container, before it leaves for New Caledonia, the second round of the series.

Argyle finished the Subaru Rally of Canberra in seventh position overall, with Green finishing 11-minutes behind in eighth place.

Results – Subaru Rally of Canberra – Sunday April 24, 2005 (Provisional)

1 C Crocker (AUS)/D Moscatt (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2:55:41.9
2 D Herridge (AUS)/B Hayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2:56:10.8 +28.9secs
3 J Kangas (FIN) /J Rabbett (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2:57:54.4 +2:12.5
4 T Arai (J)/T Sircombe (NZ) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2:57:56.2 +2:14.3
5 J Valimaki (FIN)/ J Kalliolepo (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2:58:15.0 +2:33.1
6 S Pedder (AUS)/G Weston (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3:02:08.0 +6:26.1
7 G Argyle (NZ)/J Sinclair (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 1:30:23.7 +6:50.1