Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker is on track for to win an unprecedented fourth Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) after the first day of the Rally of Indonesia.
Driving his MotorImage Impreza WRX STI, Crocker and co-driver, Ben Atkinson, totally dominated the first day, held in treacherously slippery conditions after afternoon rain turned the roads into skating rinks.
Day one of Rally Indonesia consisted of eight timed stages totalling a competitive distance of 135.88 kilometres.
The Victorian won seven of the day’s eight tests to totally control the opening leg of the sixth round of the APRC, finishing a minute clear of Japan’s Katsu Taguchi, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
“Today has gone perfectly and we’re right on track to win another championship title tomorrow,” Crocker said.
“Conditions were incredibly tough today though. The first run through the stages wasn’t too bad, but the roads cut up badly and then it rained and conditions became treacherous.
“The black soil just turns to mud. Malaysia was slippery when it rained, but compared to this, those roads were like tarmac.”
Crocker and Atkinson endured a few spins as even they struggled for grip on the stages.
“I had to abort one corner when we were literally doing 20 kilometres per hour in first gear,” Crocker added. “On the long straights all you could do was start braking 200 metres before the corner, then use the car’s engine braking to try to slow down in time.
“On one piece of road the black soil was so gluggy that we were flat out in fourth gear and couldn’t accelerate any more – the mud was just sapping the power out of the car.”
The conditions became so slippery that on the second pass through the 24.21 kilometre ‘Parang Baddo’ test, Crocker was a staggering seven minutes slower than his first run over the stage.
With temperatures over the 40-degree mark, conditions were tough inside the car, as well as outside.
“After today we just need one measly point to secure our fourth title,” Crocker added. “Hopefully the weather is drier tomorrow. The stages are quite similar to those today, so we’ll just be concentrating on getting to the finish and wrapping up the championship.”
Crocker’s team-mate, New Zealander Emma Gilmour, completed the first day in third place as many of her more fancied rivals failed to finish. Alister McRae (Proton), Hiroshi Yanagisawa (Mitsubishi) and Guarav Gill (Mitsubishi) were all first day retirements.
The final day of Rally Indonesia will see the remaining competitors tackle six stages covering 85.22 competitive kilometres.
Rally of Indonesia – after Day One
1. Cody Crocker/Ben Atkinson, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 2h 02m 28.4s
2. Katsu Taguchi/Mark Stacey, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +1m 00s
3. Emma Gilmour/Claire Mole, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +7m 48.0s
4. Subhan Aksa/Hade Mboi, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +9m 24.01s
5. Sadikin Aksa/Adi Wibowo, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +14m 44.5s
Photographs by Brian Young – www.linear-photographs.com