Triple APRC champion Cody Crocker doesn’t seem to be growing weary of the title, taking a comfortable victory at Rally Queensland to jump into the championship lead.
As was the case yesterday, MRF driver Katsu Taguchi could only chase the local hero. Only a puncture during Sunday’s opening stage was able to slow Motor Image driver Crocker, who was both first in the APRC category, and second outright (behind two-time Australian champion Simon Evans).
“This has been a fantastic event for us”, a delighted Crocker said as he signed autographs for fans who had gathered to watch the podium presentation. “To have two cars on the podium, brand new cars! The team has worked incredibly hard to have the cars ready for this event. The cars have been almost flawless. The only mishap I had was during shakedown where I lost the rear bumper and, true to form, whenever we’ve done that we’ve won the event. So it’s been great”.
MRF driver Katsu Taguchi maintained second place among the APRC crews, banking solid points for the championship. “Cody was always 2-3 seconds a stage quicker than me, so it’s good to score the points. We were a quick as him in Whangerei last year, but we’ll have to drive well to beat him (at the next round of the series)”, the former APRC champion said.
But the big news of the day was the spectacular final stage. At 34kms, ‘Phat Lady’ was a difficult way to end a demanding event. And it proved costly for both Gaurav Gill and Hayden Paddon. A puncture on Gill’s new MRF Mitsubishi Evo X had dire consequences. Starting the stage with a two minute, 40 second buffer to 4th placed Emma Gilmore, he elected to continue on the flat tyre and not run the risk of losing the position while stopped by the side of the road.
However the gamble didn’t pay off. He lost nearly five minutes on the stage, the suspension on his car collapsing as a consequence of the puncture. He arrived back in service park to complete the event in 4th, having lost the final podium position to Gilmore.
“We’re really disappointed”, a dejected Gaurav said after the podium presentation. “The puncture was out of our control; we were about 20km into the stage and we didn’t hit anything. Glen asked if I wanted to stop, but we decided to continue and try and save the position. As it turned out, we lost the corner of the car and third place. We were trying to match the times of our team-mate, and I think we’d done that”.
But Gaurav’s decision also had ramifications for Hayden Paddon. The young Kiwi had banked solid times all day, and was leading the Pacific Cup crews following Jean-Louis Leyraud’s spectacular (and rally-ending) roll early in the day. But catching Gill on the final stage, he was forced to run in the Indian’s dust. Distracted, he hit a dip in the road at speed, the compression destroying the rear suspension on his Mitsubishi.
Like Gill, he limped to the finish line, but had dropped behind Brian Green in the process, the APRC veteran jumping into the lead of the Pacific Cup points.
APRC Live will have full coverage of Rally Queenland in the next podcast, available for download from www.aprclive.com and iTunes, within the next few days.
Photos courtesy of Alan MacDonald – MacSpeed.
Rally Queensland – APRC Final Results (Unofficial)
1. Cody Crocker, 2:22:48.8
2. Katsu Taguchi, +1:21.7
3. Emma Gilmore, +6:24.4
4. Gaurav Gill, +7:34.9
5. Brian Green, +15:18.8
6. Hayden Paddon, +29:59.1