Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker has completed a magnificent season by taking outright honours in Rally China and securing the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Manufacturers’ title for Subaru for the second year in a row.
Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson had already claimed the APRC driver’s championship even before the Chinese round, but today’s victory rounded out a season that saw the pair win five of the six rounds they contested. Driving the MotorImage entered Impreza WRX STI, Crocker proved what a real champion he is driving to the conditions, while all his major opposition in APRC either crashed off or went out of the event with mechanical problems.
In the APRC category there was only one other finisher, Brian Green bringing his Wan Ya Rally Team Mitsubishi home in 2nd but over ten minutes behind Crocker. In the overall event, also part of the China Rally Championship (CRC) and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) Crocker crushed the opposition and finished the two-day event one minute 29.8 seconds clear of UK driver David Higgins, with another Chinese driver, Lang Xu, a further one minute 2.1 seconds back in third.
“We started the day determined to finish, and finish well,” Crocker said. “We concentrated on producing the same pace as yesterday, not wanting to push too hard, but not wanting to slacken off either, as that’s when mistakes can happen.”
“In the end it was a very comfortable pace with no risk. There was over three hours of competitive driving across the weekend, so it was really challenging. At times the average speeds were around 50kph. It was so tight and twisty and then really cut up on the second and third passes of a stage. This has capped off a fantastic year for us and the whole Motor Image team. Securing the Manufacturers’ title for Subaru gave us a real focus for the weekend.”
While Crocker celebrated, the other teams licked their wounds. Katsu Taguchi led initially but crashed out on Stage 7 while both his team-mates, Finlands Jussi Valimaki and India driver Gaurav Gill, having engine and fuel problems. Hiroshi Yanagisawa retired on Stage 5 also with engine problems, Rifat Sungkar crashed off on Stage 7 but restarted on Day 2. Through all the carnage came Brian Green and Fleur Pederson taking a safe approach that again paid off. It was the veteran driver’s third podium of the year and moved him and Pederson into 4th overall in the Asia-Pacific drivers and co-drivers championship.
Prior to the finish podium Green said, “This event has been a very hard one, a lot of carnage along the way and fortunately we made it through. From the start we decided to drive down the middle of the road, no cuts or running wide as there was just so many things to run into. This year the roads have been much rougher and it’s tough on the gear and the crew”.
Rally China 2007 – Final Top Seven:
1 C Crocker/B Atkinson, Subaru
2 D Higgins/I Thomas, Mitsubishi, +1:29.8
3 L Xu/ Y Huang, Mitsubishi, +2:31.9
4 C Liu/A McLaughlin, Subaru, +2:25.6
5 J Salo/M Stenberg, Subaru, +5:10.8
6. M Rowe/D Moscatt, Mitsubishi +6.13
7. B Green/F Pederson, Mitsubishi +16.36
For Rally China results visit: www.fasc.org.cn