A hard road well travelled – part 1
- 22nd December 2014, 2:59am
In this two-part special, the Australian Rally Championship media team sits down with newly crowned Australian Rally Champion Scott Pedder to look back at his rally career and the hard road he’s had to travel to get to the sports highest pinnacle.
Q: Firstly congratulations Scott! We’ve dug out some photos from over the years (Click here to access the photo gallery featuring some of Scott’s memorable moments) and it’d be good to get your memories from them. So lets start right back at the start, you’d won the Victorian Rally Championship back to back and you decided to enter the ARC.
SP: That team photo was our first event in the ARC in 2001, at the Forest Rally in Busselton in Perth. We had come from two successful seasons in the VRC and made the move up to the ARC in a pair of Evo 3’s, in what I think was the last year of World Rally Cars.
I don’t recall we finished that event but finished some stages with fourth or fifth outright times, so it was a good introduction to the ARC. I think from the start we brought a pretty professional looking team to the ARC, and a great bunch of people helping us out too.
Q: The Pedders name is synonymous with motorsport and in particular rallying, so was it always inevitable you’d end up in the ARC?
SP: Certainly early on in my childhood I was massively interested in motorsport. But when dad and Bill stopped (competing) to focus on the family business there was probably ten years where I was really into tennis. I actually played a lot of tennis as a junior and then dad made the awful mistake of getting back into rallying and bought an old Escort and managed to roll it on the first rally with my brother (Mark) as a co-driver.
I was probably about 14 or 15 at that point and from there I started with autocross. That was probably how the passion started, or restarted, from there getting back into motorsport as a driver and co-driver in old Escorts.
Q: What came first, Pedders involvement in motorsport, or motorsport leading to the Pedders business?
SP: Pedders definitely came first, and that led to our involvement in motorsport. My dad and Bill worked together as partners in crime in Pedders since Bill joined dad in the early 70’s. How that led to rallying, I think someone was organizing an event probably no more than ten or fifteen kilometres out of the city of Melbourne, and they actually used the old Pedders delivery van. And that was the start; they were hooked on the sport from there!
Q: And in that first year, 2001, you were quickly tasting success?
SP: This photo was our first time as winning privateer, I think in Queensland, and it was probably only our third event. I think we finished maybe fourth or fifth outright, and that was probably our best result at that time in the ARC.
Ironically being in Queensland, which is the event that I’ve really struggled at over the years, apart from this year (2014). So that was a pretty good result that helped to really get our name in people’s minds.
Q: And here you are alongside your brother Mark at the Forest Rally, one year after you’d started in the ARC.
SP: That was a special result, 2002. Everyone was in Group N cars, and I’d been in an older Group A car the year before, which meant everyone was saying the only reason I’d gotten good results was because of the Group A car but in reality it was just an older Evo 3 with a bigger turbo restrictor.
2002 Forest Rally in WA was also our very first rally in a Group N car, it was an ex-Ed Ordynski Ralliart car, and we should have won that event. We were leading the first Heat by about 10 seconds going into the very last stage, and Possum had a dust free run being first car on the road and we had a terrible run being car eight or nine on the road and we ended up losing that Heat and came out and finished third on the next Heat behind Possum and Ed.
‘If’ we had a dust free run I would have won my first event in a Group N car. As it was it took another three years to achieve that result. A lot of drivers over the years have struggled with the roads in WA – I instantly fell in love with them.
Q: And this time looking very happy alongside the great Ed Ordynski, what was the result here?
SP: That was the very next event, the second Round that year in Canberra. It was very special for me. Ed won that by what I remember was quite a comfortable margin. I’d been running fourth pretty much the whole event and had a couple of people drop out in front of me.
I think (Juha) Kangas was up there, and Cody (Crocker) and Dean (Herridge) too. My brother Mark was fast too but crashed. But we finished second, which was a great result for our team, but also to finish alongside a hero of mine in Ed Ordynski, and a one-two for Mitsubishi too.
By this stage I was starting to think all this rallying stuff was pretty easy. To get a second outright in an Asia-Pacific event, and almost winning the previous event, it was going really well for us. But like many times through my career the ups were followed very closely by some downs!
Q: To be able to stand on a podium alongside guys like Possum Bourne and Cody Crocker, those must be special memories when you look back on them?
SP: I think that was 2002 as well, definitely Rally of Melbourne. Probably back then I didn’t realise how special it was to be a privateer and be on the podium with the factory teams because you never realise understood how much support they had behind them, and to be honest just how much better equipped they were than you. And having been now a factory driver with Mitsubishi, to look back it does make you go ‘wow’ to get those sorts of results.
Q: Can we skip ahead a couple of years now, Mitsubishi still had a factory presence, Ed Ordynski was still their number one driver, and they did field a couple of second drivers alongside Ed. Were you factoring into conversations to join the team?
SP: There were quite a few conversations actually. I’d attend a test very early on, maybe as early as 2001, that Mitsubishi held in Canberra. Dean Herridge was actually part of that test as well as some other privateers. Eventually that seat went to Spencer Lowndes the following year, but we always kept pretty close with the Ralliart guys and we were scoring points for them even as a privateer, with Ed and Spencer scoring the points but if one of them had an issue, or we managed to beat them which we did on a number of occasions, we were scoring points for Mitsubishi.
Q: And they were some pretty competitive years, 2003 and 2004.
SP: Definitely, 2004 I’d argue was the most competitive year of the Australian Rally Championship. The quality of competition was amazing. You had Ed and Spencer for Mitsubishi, Juha Kangas driving for the Les Walkden team, Chris Atkinson in a Prodrive Subaru, Cody and Dean for Subaru, Neal and Simon in the new Group N(P) Coralla’s and a lot of strong privateers, guys like Brad Goldsborough, Will Orders, my brother (Mark), Jack Monkhouse and those sorts of people. I had a half spin in Adelaide that year and dropped from I think 3rd to 7th for the Heat – such was the level of competition!
Q: And then in 2005 you became a factory driver but at the same time the Mitsubishi team changed too.
SP: That’s right, in 2005 it went from Bob Riley to Alan Heaphy. It was a difficult transition, there were actually supposed to be two cars run that year, with Ed coming back to drive one of the cars but budgets became an issue and it ended up becoming just a single car.
It would be fair to say it was an interesting year. Alan had a lot of rally experience and brought a good team together . They were incredibly efficient and skilled and neat, but we started behind the 8-ball from lack of raw rally experience especially against the factory Subaru and Toyota teams.
But the team got up to speed very quickly and we were fighting with who I believe was one of the best rally drivers in the World in a group N car at that point in Cody, in fact I think we were the only team that year that actually beat Cody, and ironically Dale Moscatt was co-driving with Cody that year too.
Q: And here we have your first ARC victory, at Rally SA.
SP: Building on what I was saying before about a new team and Alan. Alan Heaphy is a great guy, and someone I respect greatly, so to give him that win with my great mate Glen Weston co-driving too was very special. Even more so to win in Adelaide, in front of a lot of the execs from Mitsubishi, I know that went a long way for Alan’s business and for Ralliart in Australia.
It was an astonishing event – we lost the first Heat to Neal (Bates) and Coral (Taylor) in the Toyota by I think 0.3 seconds and then won the next Heat by under a second. It was certainly a memorable way to win my first ARC event and again highlighted the competitiveness of that era.
In the second part of this special sit down with the newly crowned Australian Rally Champion Scott Pedder we catch up on the years from 2007 to the present day, including the accident in 2010 that almost ended Scott’s rally career.
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