Three-time Asia Pacific Rally Champion Cody Crocker is looking for a strong performance in the NAC Insurance International Rally of Whangarei this weekend to help his chances of taking out a record fourth championship.
Crocker, who drives a Subaru Impreza for the Singapore-based Motor Image team, has matched the late Possum Bourne, Swede Kenneth Eriksson and Malaysian driver Karamjit Singh by winning the FIA Asia Pacific title three times. Like Eriksson, Crocker’s record has the added gloss of being three consecutive titles.
Based in Victoria, Australia, Crocker says he doesn’t ever lose his desire to win. “Once you start winning, everyone’s after you to knock you off the post. The incentive to improve and keep winning is definitely there. To win this championship four times – especially four consecutive times – that’s the goal.”
Crocker is equally enthusiastic about rallying on the Whangarei and Kaipara districts roads used in this event. “All the WRC events I’ve done here, we’re using basically the same roads, and I think these are the most amazing roads anywhere I’ve driven in the world; they’re absolutely awesome.”
Two rounds of the Asia Pacific series have already run. No points were scored in New Caledonia due to severe weather conditions causing the cancellation of the second day, while in Queensland, Crocker took the victory to lead the series.
Holding second in this year’s championship, Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi is feeling positive about his prospects in the MRF Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
“We had some fast times in Queensland and second is good for the championship,” said Taguchi who took out the APRC title in 1999 and is one of the series longest-running competitors. “My best rally is always New Zealand because this is where my debut rally was in Rally New Zealand in 1993.”
For New Zealand driver Emma Gilmour, the event has a dual purpose. Gilmour is Crocker’s Motor Image team-mate in the APRC competition and will run the team’s new-shape Subaru Impreza in Whangarei. But Gilmour is also eligible points in the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), a series in which she normally drives the previous model Subaru.
Gilmour finished third in Queensland and said it was a nice surprise to be on the podium.
“Australian roads are tough, very different to New Zealand. I had the challenge of working with a new co-driver, Australian Rhiannon Smith, a new car, a new team and a new event,” said Gilmour. “There is some adjustment between the two cars and between my two co-drivers, but these are small things which we sort out in the first stage.”
The other APRC competitors include fourth-placed Gaurav Gill, from India and Palmerston North’s Brian Green. The APRC also includes sub-contests, the Pacific Cup which comprises the three Pacific events and the Asian Cup which comprises the four Asian events. Currently Green leads the Pacific Cup, which also has current New Zealand rally champion Hayden Paddon and New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud as entrants.
The NAC Insurance International Rally of Whangarei sees competitors tackle 280 competitive kilometres broken into 16 special stages. The event’s official finish and prize-giving takes place at the Quayside Town Basin in central Whangarei from 3pm on Sunday.
For more information, please contact:
Paul Mallard, general manager
Mob: 021 272 5596
Kate Gordon, media manager, 2009 NAC Insurance International Rally of Whangarei
Mob: 021 587 227