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Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker, has produced another dominate performance, taking a strong lead on the opening day of Rally China, the final round of the 2007 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

Crocker officially secured his second straight APRC driver’s title when he crossed the start line, but held nothing back as he attacked the challenging roads across ten competitive stages.

He and co-driver Ben Atkinson, driving the MotorImage Impreza WRX STI, have established a 56.5 second lead over the field, which took heavy toll on the majority of the APRC field. David Higgins is second and Martin Rowe third, a further 44 seconds behind.

Crocker finished the day extremely happy, and is out to wrap up the Manufacturers’ Championship for Subaru tomorrow.

“If we can win again tomorrow, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, the Manufacturer’s title will belong to Subaru, which is totally our goal,” Crocker said.

“But it is extremely rough out there, tough on competitors and cars.

“They tell me I’ve lost a couple of kilograms just through sweat, so I’m busy rehydrating. It is not that it is that hot, it’s just such hard work physically. I really feel that I’ve had to man-handle the car, muscle it around corners.

“The roads are very rough, very technical, and on first pass they had a lot of gravel.

“The car has been superb. Not a problem all day. We went out on tyres that were a bit too hard this morning, but we fixed that and it was all good.”

Dean Herridge and Bill Hayes sensationally led the event after five stages, but retired on special stage six when their Subaru's gearbox got stuck in third gear.

Japan's Katsu Taguchi and Australian Mark Stacey have also retired, as has Glenn Macneall, co-driving for the MRF tyres driver Guarav Gill.

Queenslander Anthony McLoughlin ended the day sixth with Chinese driver Caodong Liu.

A further six stages tomorrow complete the rally.

Rally China – End Leg One

1 C Crocker/B Atkinson, Subaru
2 D Higgins/I Thomas, Mitsubishi, +56.5secs
3 B Rowe/D Moscatt, Mitsubishi, +1:40.5
4 L Xu/ Y Huang, Mitsubishi, +1:48.5
5 C Liu/A McLaughlin, Subaru, +2:25.6

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