The APRC season comes to a close next weekend in Longyou. And although Rally China is the last event for 2007, it’s one of the toughest events on the calendar.
Motor Image driver Cody Crocker just has to start the rally to claim back-to-back APRC titles, but knows the event holds some of the toughest stages found anywhere in the world.
“There’s a few really, really tight, twisty stages…at least 50 hairpins in about 19 or 20kms”, Crocker said, speaking from his home base in Melbourne.
“(They’re) pretty serious stages. Very technical, very demanding, but very, very interesting too. We had quite good fun last year; maybe because the pressure was off and we didn’t have to win the championship at that rally.”
Run through the countryside surrounding the city of Longyou, in the Zhejiang province, Rally China offers a completely different set of challenges for the APRC crews, not the least of which was the rain that transformed last years event into a mud-bath.
“China last year was very wet and very muddy, the muddiest rally we’d done for a long time. China is always unique because of the types of roads and where you go. You go through villages which are very narrow and twisty, and you get a lot of the locals standing by the side of the road watching you, about two feet away from the car.”
The rally is also a round of the Chinese domestic series, which features both the best local drivers, and well known internationals, such as David Higgins and Martin Rowe, and Crocker’s ex-Subaru Australia team-mate Dean Herridge.
“Last year was one of the best turn-outs we’ve seen for the start of a rally in a long time. You had a lot of international champions there and it was a really good competition. This year…I think there’s some of the IRC and Super 2000 cars there as well, so it’s going to be even more interesting.”
And while Cody would like nothing better than upstaging the rest of the field, there’s still the important matter of securing the manufacturers title for Subaru. “We’ve won the championship, but we really want to win the manufacturers championship as well, and there’s only two points in that. So whoever wins the rally, between Subaru and Mitsubishi, will win the manufacturers championship.”
The rally kicks off on Friday with a super special stage, before the crews take to the Zhejiang mountains for Saturdays and Sundays stages.
But in the meantime, you can catch a glimpse of just how tough it will be to make it the finish line at Rally China: