Crocker takes commanding championship lead
- 9th July 2006, 7:11pm
Crocker earned 16 points to move his total to 48, having won every day and every event contested in the three rounds this season. He is now 18 clear of his nearest rival, Katsuhiko Taguchi.
Outright honours for the Japanese event went to local Subaru driver, Toshi Arai, who finished one minute 33 seconds clear of Takuma Kamada, also in an Impreza WRX STI, with Crocker, driving for Les Walkden Rallying third just a further 0.4 seconds behind.
But neither Arai or Kamada are entered in the Asia Pacific series and were on the road 20 minutes after Crocker, a major advantage on the morning stages when the Australian, in start position number one, was left to sweep the roads for those that followed.
Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson finished one minute 16.4 seconds clear of fourth place getter and championship rival, Hiroshi Yanagisawa.
Victorian Eli Evans, also driving for Les Walkden Rallying, finished seventh outright and fifth of the ARPC cars, an outstanding performance in his debut in Japan. He is now in fifth place on the points table on 17.
Crocker was delighted maintain his outstanding 2006 record on the difficult Hokkaido roads.
“I’m absolutely rapted with the result,” Crocker said.
“It was a really exhausting event, really tough because of the temperatures and the road conditions. The first time we went over the stages this morning we were sweeping inches of gravel off the road, and the second time through was incredibly rough.”
“But the ruts were easy compared to the gravel. We managed to take around two seconds a kilometre off our times when we repeated the stage in the afternoon.”
“We stayed out of trouble all weekend, which really is the key. One puncture and you ruin any chance of a top result.”
“So we focused on staying clean. Arai and Kamada were out of our consideration all weekend. We got the car home clean and ready to go for the next event.”
Eli Evans was also delighted with his drive with Matt McAdam.
“We had a really good weekend,” Evans said. “We made it back with no scratches and the car spot on.”
“I really enjoyed it. The roads are fast and narrow, which I find I good. It sure keeps you on the ball.”
“I’ve never driven in ruts like this before, so I’ve learnt a lot. Our times to the front runners today were much closer which is really pleasing.
Final results - Rally Hokkaido, Sunday July 9, 2006 (Provisional)
1 T Arai (J), T Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 2:25:19.2
2 T Kamada (J), H Ichino (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:33.5
3 *C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:33.9
4 *H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2:50.3
5 *K Taguchi (J), M Stacey (Aus), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:56.0
6 *J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4:04.3
7 *E Evans (Aus), M McAdam (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +6:44.8
* = Asia-Pacific Rally Championship competitor
Asia Pacific Championship points after Rally Hokkaido (Event 4 of 7)
1 C Crocker (Australia), Subaru, 48
2 K Taguchi (Japan), Mitsubishi, 30
3 R Sungkar (Indonesia), Mitsubishi, 27
4 H Yangisawa, Japan, 19
5 E Evans, (Australia), Subaru 17
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