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Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker knows that this weekend’s Rally of Canberra provides a great opportunity to consolidate his lead in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

The reigning series champion, driving the Singapore-based Motor Image-entered Impreza WRX STI, took the maximum 16 points in New Zealand last month, three bonus points for winning each day plus ten for the overall victory.

In second place in the series, on 15 points, is the 2005 APRC winner Jussi Valimaki. The Finn opted out of the event across the Tasman, but took the honours at the opening round in New Caledonia in April, an event skipped by Crocker.

Canberra will see the two go head-to-head for the first time since Crocker joined the championship in 2006, after winning three straight Australian rally championships in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Others sure to challenge include Japan’s Katsu Taguchi and Hiroshi Yanagisawa and 2004 Rally of Canberra winner, Australia’s Dean Herridge, as well as Indonesia’s Rifat Sungkar, another Motor Image driver.

While many other Australians will be in action, they will compete in the Capital Rally, a round of the Australian Rally Championship. Different rules, road conditions and length of course will make it a separate competition to the Rally of Canberra.

Crocker has a strong record in Canberra. He won the event in 2003, finished second in 2004 and was victorious here again in 2005 and 2006.

He and co-driver Ben Atkinson are keenly aware of their mission this weekend now that every event counts in the season’s tally.

“Our job is to bring home the maximum points and build a strong base for our APRC title defence,” Crocker said.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to have a home event early in the season when we hopefully take advantage of some local knowledge and gets some points in the bank.”

“We’ve gone for a softer set-up with our suspension than what we used in New Zealand. The roads here are a lot more slippery, so we need to maximize grip, particularly as I’ll be first car on the road.”

“Mind you, it’s been cold and wet, so if it stays that way it will help our cause and minimize the effect of having to sweep the roads.”

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the weather before making our tyre choice.”

The Canberra event has adopted a different format this year, and will feature two evening stages, one on both Friday and Saturday.

“It will be different driving with the night lights on. We haven’t done it for a while,” Crocker said.

“You have to be super careful at night. You don’t have the range of vision, so one mistake, one problem, and you can be out of the event in a second.”

The Rally of Canberra takes in 16 special stages and 230 competitive kilometres. It gets underway on Friday night at 6.30pm and finishes on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm.

Visit: www.fiaaprc.com for full series details
Visit: www.roc.com.au for results

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