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Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker, has completed a strong opening day at Rally Whangarei in New Zealand, finishing Leg One in first outright position and first in the battle for Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) points.

Crocker, who is looking to defend the APRC title he won so emphatically last year, had a trouble free run, despite being first out this morning and having to sweep heavily gravelled roads.

The event takes in the roads used in Rally New Zealand until a few years ago, 150 kilometres north of Auckland.

Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson lead New Zealander Hayden Paddon in the outright battle by 12.2 seconds, with Sam Murray third a further 26.4 seconds back.

The Victorian holds a commanding one minute 27.4 seconds lead over his nearest APRC competitor, Hiroshi Yanagisawa, with his new team mate Rifat Sungkar third, six minutes 17.0 seconds back.

Paddon is around 15 cars later on the road than Crocker, so the number one seed was pleased to hold the outright lead despite having the poorer conditions.

“There was a lot of loose gravel on the roads, heaps to sweep away, so we were pleased to lose only 12 seconds on the morning stages and then make it all up second time over,” Crocker said.

“It was a long day – nearly 160 kilometres – but it really helped knowing the roads from Rally New Zealand.”

“While it would be nice to take outright honours, we’ll focus on making sure we bring the car home first APRC as the season is all about a successful title defence.”

Rally Whangarei finishes with Leg Two tomorrow.

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