Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker commences his campaign to win a record-breaking fourth straight Asia-Pacific Rally Championship this weekend at Rally Queensland and cement his position as one of the world’s elite production class drivers.
Crocker dominated the Australian Rally Championship, winning three straight outright titles from 2003 to 2005.
He then turned his attention to the international scene, teaming with co-driver Ben Atkinson, and won the 2006, 2007 and 2008 APRC driver’s titles as well.
The last two titles have come as part of the Singapore-based MotorImage team, who will this year debut a new Impreza WRX STI, prepared by a company that bears a name synonymous with Subaru, Possum Bourne Motorsport, from New Zealand.
Despite the incredible run of success, which also includes four Group N ARC crowns from 1998 to 2001, Crocker remains as motivated as ever in his quest for titles.
Cody Crocker tests the new WRX yesterday.”It has been an amazing run and when you’ve had this sort of success, you don’t want to let go of it,” Crocker said. “My motivation is simply to keep winning.”
While the ARC success was important, Crocker knows the significance of not just making the move to the international stage, but being successful on the bigger regional stage as well.
“To win the domestic series was fantastic, but to achieve international success, in so many different countries and in so many different environments and circumstances, has been the highlight of my career to date, no doubt about it.”
Unlike the last two years, Crocker will be in a new car, the latest Impreza WRX STI.
“We’ve had a really great test in the new car in Malaysia, which involved six days of nutting out the car – electronics, suspension, centre diff controller – every element. We also had to work out how we, as driver and co-driver, could get the most out of it as well.
“The testing here this week has also gone well. It is always hard for a new car at its first event to have everything right, but we are starting very confident that we have a good car and a good set-up. Now we just have to master it in an event.
“Rally Queensland will be the real test. It will be the first time out on these roads for me for a while, but our experience from the past should hold us in good stead.
“Despite the heavy rains recently, the roads are in really good nick.”
Crocker remains in no doubt though, new venue or not, the competition will be fierce.
“Katsu Taguchi, a past APRC champion, is always hard to beat. Gaurav Gill, the Indian driver, showed good form last year in his Mitsubishi Evo 10, and I reckon he’ll be even better in 2009.
“Hayden Paddon is new to the championship from New Zealand and he’ll be out to make a name for himself.
“Then you have the Evans boys, Simon and Eli, and Brendan Reeves, the Aussies who have entered the APRC section as well, and they will be really fired up.
“So it will be tough, but it should be fun.”
Crocker has a new team mate this year, Emma Gilmour from New Zealand, who will compete for the first time in the APRC.
“Emma has a great deal of experience in many events around the world and a good share of success too, so she will show many of the others a thing or two about driving, I sure.”
Rally Queensland gets underway this Friday with a ceremonial start at the Nambour Showgrounds on Friday evening with the action getting underway on Saturday morning in the forests around Imbil. The rally consists of 14 stages across 239.60 competitive kilometres.