Provided he crosses the start ramp in November’s Rally of China, Australia’s Cody Crocker is the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Champion. After the 6th round the Gudan Garam Rally of Indonesia Crocker now has an unassailable points lead with 68 points out of a possible 70 after winning all five APRC events he has entered in.
The 2006 Rally of Indonesia was the best battle of the series – at one point the three top drivers were separated by only 1 second and there was several occasions where there were identical times. Held on the island of Sulawesi and based in the ancient port city of Makassar the Rally of Indonesia is one of the toughest events in world rallying with ambient temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, thick dust that makes breathing and visibility difficult and roads that are soft, slippery and often rough. Prior to the event Crocker only needed 8 points to secure the title while his closest rival, MRF Mitsubishi driver Katsu Taguchi needed to win – and Crocker not finish, to have any chance of taking the title. Ten APRC teams entered Rally of Indonesia, joined for this event by current P-WRC champion Toshi Arai in the Motor Image Subaru.
After the ceremonial start in down-town Makassar it was Finland’s Jarkko Miettinen who set the early pace winning the first stage by 2 seconds from Crocker, with Taguchi and Arai 6 seconds further back and third equal. The only two wheel drive car in the APRC field, New Zealander Mark Tapper in the Ford Fiesta crashed out on Stage 1. “I had a caution in the notes for a jump and maybe hit the brakes a little too hard and we nose dived on landing and broke the radiator. It’s the second time this year I have had slowed down and still got caught out” said Tapper back at service.
Up front the battle raged on Miettinen and Crocker tied for 1st on the second stage both on 14 minutes and 50 seconds, while Arai edged ahead of Taguchi by 8 seconds. In 5th place and 22 seconds behind the leader was Japan’s Hiroshi Yanagisawa driving for the CUSCO Subaru team and for this event only, a new co-driver, the very experienced Yoshimara Nakahara. Crocker’s team-mate Eli Evans retired at the end of stage 2 with a broken gear-box, “we broke a selector and then grabbed two gears – we’re out” said a dejected Evans.