THIS INTERVIEW WAS MADE AVAILABLE TO APRC.TV BY www.rallysportmag.com.au:
Former ARC front-runner Scott Pedder is taking on the Asia Pacific Rally Championship this year and is heading to Rally of Canberra for his second outing with the MRF team. RallySport Magazine spoke to Scott to find out how he has settled in to the new team and what we can expect from him in Canberra. 10 QUESTIONS FOR SCOTT PEDDER
You’ve had your first event with the MRF team. How have you fitted in?
I think extremely well. The team are very experienced and have obviously had their fair share of success. From my initial association with them they have an incredible ability to get things done but with very little or no fuss.
What are the main differences between the MRF team and Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia ?
Difficult question to answer as both teams are/were very, very professional. It might be a question I can better answer at the end of the season.
Your first event, in New Caledonia , didn’t go exactly to plan. Tell us about the event and how you saw your performance.
From hero to zero in a few short hours. New Caledonia for Glen and I was always going to be a steep learning curve – a new team, new tyres, new event and series, a very different car, first time left hand drive and only our second event in over 18 months! Obviously with all this in mind to be sitting comfortably in second place after day one was incredibly satisfying although we did have a few scares throughout the day and were probably a bit lucky to only escape the “mistake” on stage 4 with just a flat tyre. After overnight rain on Saturday night, the thought of the 35km Katrikoin stage (red clay, grass, big drops!) was a little daunting, however we went into the stage with survival in mind knowing we had enough of a buffer to Herridge and we were unlikely to catch Taguchi in front. The stage was as predicted – no doubt the slipperiest stage I have ever driven. We made it through the first 18 kilometres and started to climb out of the slippery rainforest and even started getting some consistent grip. Unfortunately I just put the right hand rear wheel onto the grass on the entry to a very slippery tight left hander and we fell off the road at a very slow speed – stuck!
It was your first event on MRF tyres. What were they like?
I think the proof is in the pudding! You don’t win Asia-Pacific events without a good crew, team, car and tyres. The MRF mud tyre is extremely good and the impact strength of the tyres in general is as good as I have driven on.
With one event under your belt, what changes will you make to the car heading into the Rally of Canberra?
Parts of the Saturday stages in New Caledonia were very similar to some of the stages in Canberra – especially day one – and with the car incredibly easy to drive from the outset and our pace quite good, it will be just a matter of some event-specific setup.
Canberra’s an event you know well. Given your speed in New Caledonia , would you be disappointed if you didn’t at least come away with a podium finish?
Obviously we are going to Canberra to try and win. After New Caledonia we are now behind the pack in terms of points so it is important that we have a good result.
Cody Crocker is likely to be your biggest threat for victory. In what areas do you think the Mitsubishi will have an advantage over Subaru in Canberra ?
Cody is a proven performer, especially in Canberra and we all know what he is capable of. Katsu showed some very impressive and consistent speed in New Caledonia . I have no doubt that these two, and hopefully me, will be the pacesetters in Canberra for the APRC registered crews. Dean is also capable of some great speed at times and is a past winner of Canberra and is always consistently fast, as he showed in New Caledonia . As for Subaru vs Mitsubishi in Canberra – Who knows? Every car is different and so is every driver, so it is always difficult to say which car suits which event. Canberra can be fast, but can also get very rough, particularly on the second pass over the stages.
Does the Lancer Evo 9 cope well in these conditions?
Exceptionally well – the suspension in the MRF car is one of its major strengths. Unfortunately it is the same as used by Cody! As I said also, the strength of the MRF tyres is also incredibly impressive.
There’ll be a lot of interest in how Toyota ’s Super 2000 Corollas match up against the APRC cars in Canberra . How much of an eye will you be keeping on Simon Evans’ times?
Always! Although not registered for the APRC, Simon and I have a strong rivalry so I will keep an interested eye on his pace. Road position in Canberra plays a big part so as in previous years I would expect the leading ARC crews to probably be the fastest in the overall event. For that same reason, expect Guest and Eli Evans to be at the pointy end of the APRC field also. The other thing to keep in mind is that the APRC gets played over two days whereas the ARC Super Series is two separate sprints so a different strategy is needed.
Is there any chance that we’ll see Scott Pedder contesting any rounds of the Australian Rally Championship in 2008? If not, why?
Unlikely. My commitment is to the full APRC program and looking for options for 2009 and beyond.