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Asia Pacific Rally Champion, Cody Crocker, has taken the lead after the first stage of the Rally of Canberra tonight.

Driving his Motor Image Subaru Impreza WRX, Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson were an impressive 3.8 seconds faster than Japan’s Katsu Taguchi over the 10.33km night stage.

Australian Dean Herridge equalled Taguchi’s time over the stage, while Taguchi’s team-mate, Finland’s Jussi Valimaki, was fourth in his MRF Tyres Lancer Evo 9, 12 seconds off the pace.

A cold night in Canberra didn’t deter hundreds of spectators who braved the conditions to watch the rally cars in action. A gentle breeze meant that hanging dust wasn’t a problem, something that many of the competitors had been concerned about before the start of the event.

The 10 competitors in the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship return to the forests tomorrow morning and face seven stages and a further 106km of competitive driving. The first stage of the day, Oakey Creek, is the day’s longest at 20.71km.

Leading positions after stage 1:

1. Cody Crocker / Ben Atkinson                  Subaru Impreza WRX           6m 56s

=2. Katsu Taguchi / Mark Stacey                Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9       +3.8s

=2. Dean Herridge / Bill Hayes                    Subaru Impreza WRX           +3.8s

4. Jussi Valimaki / Jarkko Kalliolepo          Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9       +12.0s

5. Rifat Sungkar / Herkusuma Mohamad   Subaru Impreza WRX           +22.8s

6. V.R. Naren Kumar / D. Ramkumar         Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9       +30.9s

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