The second round of the APRC, Rally Canberra doesn’t kick off for another two days, but already the Sutton Road service park is abuzz with activity. The leading teams have arrived and are busy testing ahead of the ceremonial start on Friday night.
Arriving before the most of the other teams, MRF completed two days testing with their three Lancer Evos. Current series leader Katsu Taguchi was happy with the setup of his Mitsubishi, but is still considering the best tyre compounds to select for the weekend. “This is very different (fron New Caledonia) but I have quite a bit of experience here; I have been coming to Canberra nine times now so have a good idea what to expect.”
Local driver Scott Pedder makes his second appearance in an MRF Lancer, and is keenly aware that correct suspension and typre choice will be critical in the opening loop of stages. “On both days, half of the competitive distance of the rally is in the first three stages. That means there’s no way you can ease yourself in and get a feel for it; it will be absolutely flat-out from the start. If you’re too slow out of the blocks, you won’t make make up that time later.”
The series two Japanese teams, Cusco and Arai Motorsport have also arrived, with both teams testing today (Wednesday). Cusco will be looking to their Australian driver, Dean Herridge, to take the fight up to MRF and MotorImage. “I expect that particularly Cody and Katsu, and probably Scotty (Pedder) as well, will be firing the shots early in the APRC. But I’m looking forward to this event, and Cusco are looking at me and saying ‘This is your round, Deano. We expect you to be able to attack in this one’”.
Along with Arai Motorsport, defending champions MotorImage make their first appearance in the series this weekend, with tests scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Cody Crocker and Rifat Sungkar will be running their 2007-spec Subaru Imprezas for Canberra, while Aria’s Takuma Kamada will debut a brand new 2008-model Impreza WRX STi.
The ceremonial start takes place in the centre of Canberra on Friday night, with a field of 81 cars set to roll down the start ramp.
And APRC Live will be at the rally, talking to all the drivers. Podcasts will be available from www.aprclive.com on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings (Canberra local time).