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Team Mitsubishi Ralliart heads down to the southernmost round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship this weekend but its true direction is upwards.

TMR’s performance is heading north and it arrives at Tasmania’s Safari as a last-start winner after its Evolution IX Mitsubishi Lancer’s victory in the second heat of Rally Queensland in June.


Driver Scott Pedder and co-driver Glen Weston were runners-up in the Safari last year, scoring their first podium in a factory team, and are determined to go one better this year.


Pedder loves the Safari - on roads around Geeveston in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart.
It was here last year that he reached an important turning point in his career, adopting a straighter driving style and more relaxed attitude that immediately paid dividends.


He says the Safari is a “true winter rally” that should perfectly suit the all-wheel-drive Evo IX powered by a turbocharged MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic lift and Control) 2-litre engine.


It will also be the first rally this season where Mitsubishi Ralliart can take full advantage of its new brake package - with four-piston calipers front and rear and bigger disks – that was approved by the world governing body of motor sport, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), on the eve of the season.


Pedder says the expected wet and cold roads will make tyre choices critical, but that Mitsubishi Ralliart’s supplier Pirelli has traditionally had excellent tyres for these conditions.


“Everything is looking very good for this rally, and we go into it with a lot of confidence,” Pedder said. “We’ve got three rallies (Canberra, Western Australia and Queensland) under our belt with the Evo IX and we (TMR principal Alan Heaphy, the crew and drivers) feel we’ve now come to grips with it.


“It’s a great rally car and we’re ready to start winning rounds with it. We had a purple patch this time last year, hitting form in Tassie and then winning Rally SA in the Evolution VIII Lancer we were campaigning then, and this time we’d love to win Tassie, SA and then the final round in Melbourne.”


Queensland marked TMR’s first podium this year, and with the Evolution IX, and Heaphy said the team’s aim was now to win consistently.


Mitsubishi has a fine record in Tasmania’s ARC round. Finnish driver Juha Kangas and his co-driver Julia Rabbett won it in 2003 (in the Derwent Valley) and 2004 (the first in the Huon Valley). And Ed Ordynski won Group N – the showroom car class that in recent years has become Australia’s premier rally category – in Tasmania six times.


This year’s Safari will have a ceremonial start in Hobart on Friday night, followed by 180km of competition in 20 stages over the weekend at Geeveston, about 60km south of Hobart.
There are five stages each day that will be repeated twice.


The new 750-metre Geeveston Super Special Stage at the Kermandie Oval will be run four times throughout the weekend.


“There’s quite a lot of change to the course this year – it’s about half identical to what it has been and half revised, with one totally new stage (the 10.13km Fourfoot on Sunday)” Pedder said.
“The changes should really suit us – there are some faster sections in there.”


Pedder and Weston are seeded third for the event, behind championship leaders Simon and Sue Evans and their Toyota teammates Neal Bates and Coral Taylor, and ahead of Subaru pair Dean Herridge and Bill Hayes.

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