Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker, is in Canberra this weekend to start the defence of his Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title.

Having won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, Crocker would love to get his name on the prestigious international trophy once again, matching his record of three straight Australian Rally Championship driver’s titles from 2003 to 2005.

Crocker knows that he faces strong opposition in the five events that follow Canberra, and that maximising the points in his home event is vital.

Driving an Impreza WRX STI for the Singapore-based MotorImage team, the Victorian driver expects his key challengers to be the Japanese driver Takuma Kamada, in a Subaru Impreza, or Australian Scott Pedder, who makes his series debut in a Mitsubishi.

While there will be any number of titles up for grabs in Canberra, with the extraordinary mix of local and international events being contested at the same time, Crocker says leaving the nation’s capital with the maximum number of APRC points is his priority.

“Our goal is to kick-start our Championship defence in the strongest way possible, and that means taking away a swag of points, not being caught in a battle against drivers who are not in the championship, and who are competing in very different circumstances to what we will be,” Crocker said.

Road position is vital in Canberra, and Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson will be first away on each stage as they are the highest ranked drivers in the highest ranked title on offer, the international Rally of Canberra.

“We will have to sweep the roads first time over each stage, and that is a significant disadvantage compared to someone starting 15 or 20 cars further back,” Crocker said.

“The road surface is very fine, almost sandy here, and can be very slippery, so the first morning will be particularly difficult.

“Winning an outright title is always nice, but different road conditions make time comparisons difficult so we’ll just go out and try and have a good, clean fast run.

“The other aspect of Canberra which is really challenging is that there are very few trees because of all the fires, and these are usually vital as points of reference. So pace notes are absolutely critical here.

“The approach we’ve had in the past has been to be consistently quick, and this keeps the pressure on everyone else.

“It has been a winning formula so that will be our approach here as well.

Crocker will campaign the same car that he took so brilliantly through the 2007 APRC season.

“This event does require a unique set-up because of the roads. But testing has gone well so we’ll go to the start on Saturday confident in the car.”

The Rally of Canberra gets underway on Saturday morning (May 10) and concludes on Sunday after 18 stages and 220 competitive kilometres.
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