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Team Mitsubishi Ralliart wants only one thing – outright victory - from this weekend’s final round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship, the NGK Rally of Melbourne.

TMR’s Evolution IX Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer has won heats at each of the past three rounds of the championship, but it is intent on winning the two-heat “grand final” in the Yarra Valley overall.

On a weekend that Melbourne is free of AFL footy, TMR driver Scott Pedder and co-driver Glen Weston want to end their second year in a factory team by winning a round of the championship.

Last year they won the South Australian round of the championship in an Evolution VIII Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer and they say the Evo IX is a significant improvement as it has the MIVEC engine (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Lift and Control).

TMR has investigated the turbocharger failure that cost it the outright win in Adelaide last month and is confident the failure was a one-off thing.

Having won the first heat of the event in the Mt Crawford Forest north-east of Adelaide, Pedder and Weston dropped six minutes on two stages when the turbo blew at the start of the second heat. Once the turbo was changed the Evo IX was the fastest car on the rally’s remaining seven stages.

“The Evo IX is brilliant,” Pedder says. “We’ve been on the pace all year, we’ve won heats at three rounds in a row, and at the two most recent rallies (Tasmania and SA) we’ve had a really good tyre package from Pirelli. There’s nothing left now but to go all out for a round win in Melbourne. That would be a perfect result.”

Another reason for Pedder and Weston to end the championship on a winning note is that it would celebrate the new support agreements they have with global communications leader Motorola.

They are seeded No. 2 for the rally, behind Toyota’s championship leaders, Simon and Sue Evans, and ahead of the other series “heavyweights” – Neal Bates and Coral Taylor in another Toyota and Dean Herridge and Bill Hayes in a Subaru.

“Being the second car on the road will be ideal,” Pedder says. “You don’t want to be No. 1 because there is a layer of loose gravel on the course until the first car goes over it.

“We’re very happy to be starting second, but we want to finish first both days - and win the rally outright. We want to go out as hard as we can, build a lead and keep it to the end – both days.”

The Yarra Valley east of Melbourne is “home ground” for Pedder, while Weston is from Brisbane.

The pair have bonded so well in two seasons together that when Pedder lost a tooth filling and needed root canal treatment he flew to Brisbane last Friday to have it done by endodontist Weston.

However, Pedder says the Rally of Melboure “won’t be won or lost according to where anyone comes from”.

“It’s all about drivers and cars performing at their optimum level across the two days.

“I’m very familiar with the course and the conditions, but all the top drivers have had a lot of experience on the Rally of Melbourne.

“The Toyotas have not won a heat at either of the past two rounds, but they are still very strong, and Dean is doing an excellent job in his Subaru.

“Like myself, Simon Evans is from Melbourne and I’m sure he would love to finish the championship by winning his home rally. Neal Bates has been very quick here in the past, and Dean is a quiet achiever – and he won the renowned Acheron Way stage on this rally twice last year. But a win at home would really mean heaps to me.

“It was at the Rally of Melbourne three years ago that I first won a heat of the ARC, as a Mitsubishi privateer in the family team we had then.

“That was a great day, but we’re operating on a higher level now in a factory team and success is even more important.

“Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s headquarters are at Dandenong, in Melbourne, so it’s a ‘home game’ too for the small but dedicated crew that team principal Alan Heaphy has put together over the past two seasons.

“They’ve done an incredibly professional job all the way along and it would be great to reward them with a victory at the end of the season.

“We won one round last year and we really want to finish off by matching that this season.

“We’ve been pretty stiff not to win a rally outright so far this year. We probably should have won three - we’ve had the pace. It would be nice to finish off the championship in the right style.”

Rally of Melbourne will kick off with a ceremonial start along NewQuay Promenade at Docklands from 6.30pm Friday. That will be followed by more than 200km of competition in 16 stages in the Yarra Valley on Saturday and Sunday.

Evans goes into the event with 170 championship points, Bates 154, Herridge 148 and Pedder 113. Rally of Melbourne carries 50 per cent bonus points – and therefore a possible 61.5 points for the winner, giving Pedder a mathematical chance of the title.

However, TMR is not concerned about the maths – only about winning the rally.

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