Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker has been thrown a lifeline and will contest next week’s Repco Rally Australia, the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
The three-time Australian and three-time Asia-Pacific Rally Champion will drive for the Tasmanian-based Les Walkden Rallying (LWR) team in the event, re-establishing a partnership that won the 2006 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title.
Thirty-seven year old Crocker was originally entered in Rally Australia as part of an Indonesian team, however freight complications looked to have ended his chances of contesting his home WRC event.
However, an eleventh hour deal has been struck between Crocker, Les Walkden Rallying and an Indonesian businessman, that will see the Victorian lining up in a 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI looking to take top honours in the Group N production car class.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity, and is a huge relief after the problems that looked to have ended our chances of competing,” Crocker said. “A driver always wants to compete in the most important event on home soil, and it doesn’t get any bigger than Rally Australia. Thanks to Les Walkden and Ricardo (Crocker’s Indonesian sponsor), we’ve been able to get everything sorted and I can’t wait to get up to northern New South Wales and start the event.”
Crocker will be partnered by his regular co-driver, Queenslander Ben Atkinson, with the pair driving the Subaru Impreza that former V8 Supercar driver, Tony Longhurst, used in this year’s Targa Tasmania. The Group N (production) car will be converted from tarmac to gravel specification.
“Rally Australia is a really important event for us,” Crocker added. “A lot of the bosses from Subaru and STI will be at the rally, so we’ll be putting our best foot forward to achieve the best possible result. The car will run in a similar specification to the Subaru I use in the Asia-Pacific Championship. It will have the diff and engine mapping settings from my APRC car, so it should be very similar in performance.”
LWR boss, Les Walkden, is delighted to have Crocker back driving for his team. It was only 24 hours earlier that the team lost young-gun Brendan Reeves from its Rally Australia campaign when the 20-year old was declared medically unfit to compete.
Walkden moved quickly to secure a drive for Crocker when the champ was left sitting on the sidelines. “It’s important to have the best possible Australian representation at our round of the WRC, and Cody is the perfect man to have behind the wheel,” Walkden said. “This is the biggest stage in Australian rallying, and it’s the perfect opportunity for Cody and LWR to strut our stuff. Cody has an incredible record over the past 10 or 11 years. He won his first APRC title driving for our team in 2006, and we’re thrilled to be working with him again.”
Crocker will test the LWR Impreza WRX STI at an official World Rally Championship shakedown next Monday, before embarking on the event later next week.
Repco Rally Australia begins with a super special stage around the streets of Murwillumbah on Thursday night, September 3. Over the next three days competitors will tackle 35 special stages comprising 340 competitive kilometres.
Photos courtesy of Linear Photographs and www.leswalkdenrallying.com.au