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After torrential rain on the opening day of Rally Hokkaido ruined any chance of a podium result, Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker has charged home on the second day, winning five of the ten stages contested, to finish fourth in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship section of the event.

But despite the brilliant drive in Leg 2, when he took the three bonus points for setting the fastest time across the ten special stages, Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson have lost their lead in the APRC battle.

That honour now rests with Japan’s Katsu Taguchi, who was second outright and the first APRC competitor across the finish line in the fourth round of the championship.

Taguchi now has 43 points, three clear of reigning champion Crocker. Another Australian Subaru driver, Dean Herridge, is third in the series with 32 points.

The outright winner of Rally Hokkaido was Subaru’s Toshi Arai, the only man to beat the leading APRC entrants home, but he too lowered his colours to Crocker on the final day.

Saturday’s rain storm, which made the day’s final stage almost impassable for Crocker in his MotorImage Impreza WRX STI, and lost him around three minutes, cost him dearly. But the Victorian remains philosophical about the weekend’s result and upbeat about his title defence.

“The final stage yesterday was the worst conditions that I’ve ever had to drive in,” Crocker said. ‘And it just worked out that I got the absolute worst of it as well.

“But that happens and today showed us that we are still on the pace when we get a fair run.

“We’re only three points behind Taguchi which is not much, and he would have been hoping for top points out of this rally, given it’s his home event.

“We’ve got a good record in Indonesia, Malaysia and China, the last three rounds of the series, so we are still very much in the championship race.

“The car was really strong, we’ve got a good package and the MotorImage team is performing well. So we’re now totally focussed on the next round.”

The next event in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is Rally Indonesia from August 22 to 24.

Top 5 Results – Rally Hokkaido (Provisional)

1 Toshi Arai (Japan) 1:46:25.6
2 Katsu Taguchi (Japan) 1:47:51.1, + 1:25.5
3 Hiroshi Yanagisawa (Japan) 1:47:53.4, +1:27.8
4 Dean Herridge (Aust) 1:48:56.9, +2:31.3
5 Cody Crocker (Aust) 1:49:16.7

APRC points (after round 4 of 7) (Provisional)

1 Katsu Taguchi, 43
2 Cody Crcoker, 40
3 Dean Herridge, 32
4 Hiroshi Yanagisawa, 22
=5 Rifat Sungkar, 13
=5 Brian Green, 13
7 Scott Pedder, 12

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