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In Queensland earlier in the year Brendan Reeves faltered on the ARMOR ALL Power Stage allowing Scott Pedder to power through to claim the five points on offer.
 

At this morning’s running in Coffs Harbour the tables were well and truly turned, Pedder hitting trouble and failing to qualify for the stage, allowing Reeves an easy run for maximum points and in turn leveling the Championship title race.
 
The incident for Pedder occurred during the pre-Power Stage qualifying run. Running first on the road he overestimated the entry speed to a jump, spun his Renault Clio, and then struggled to get it re-pointed in the right direction.
 
“It was a downhill dip into a hump and in hindsight I just arrived too quick, and I was probably on the wrong angle too,” Scott said. “I lost a heap of time because there was just no where to turn around.”
 
“It’s unfortunate, but it sets the stage for a big fight this weekend,” Pedder said philosophically. “On the plus side we spun in the air, that was pretty cool!”
 
The short two and a half kilometre stage was proving to be particularly demanding on drivers, a heavy layer of sizable rocks making grip variable, combined with a number of humps in the road which were sending cars airborne.
 
With Pedder knocked out six drivers lined up to fight for the Championship points on offer – Brendan Reeves, Steve Mackenzie, Michael Boaden, Adrian Coppin, Tony Sullens and the wild card entrant Mick Patton.
 
After his absence at the previous Round in South Australia Patton was eager to get as much mileage under his belt as possible, and was happy to claim the wild card to get some extra running.
 
“I’m really just blowing the cobwebs out,” said Mick at the end of his run. “I’m just really looking forward to the next three days, because the car feels really good after the disappointment of SA.”
 
One of the most highly anticipated cars of the year broke cover this morning, with Steve Mackenzie debuting his G2-spec Ford Fiesta ST. His run through the stage was over 6.4 seconds quicker than Patton.
 
“I’m happy with that time, but I know there was more in it,” Mackenzie commented while showing some concern for the front of his new car. “One jump I hit a bit too hard, I don’t know what the front end looks like, I’ll have to hop out and have a good look.”
 
On what would be considered his home rally Michael Boaden was next up into the stage, but setting a time just a touch slower than Mackenzie. “I lost it on one corner,” he fumed. “I went in too deep, got caught out on the really rocky stuff and had no choice but to really back it in. I know that’s where I lost the time.”
 
Heading into the event Adrian Coppin was sweating on an urgent gearbox delivery for his Citroen DS3, and while he would have been relieved that it arrived in time he would have concerns this afternoon after the gearbox jammed in second during both his qualifying and Power Stage runs.
 
“It was worse!” exclaimed Coppin when asked if the gearbox had improved between runs. “I can’t get it out of second, I just had to rev it the whole way. We just have to focus on getting it fixed for tomorrow now!”
 
Coppin’s Citroen teammate Tony Sullens was the penultimate driver into the stage, blasting across the finish line to edge ahead by 1.4 seconds. “I really had a go, nothing stupid, but I did push on.”
 
“It’s a whole risk versus reward thing with these Power Stages. I really didn’t want to make a mistake and have to worry about fixing the car all afternoon!” he added.
 
Fastest man during the morning’s qualifying, and certain stage victor barring a major mistake, came Brendan Reeves. The Mazda driver flying over the stage, proving that the rocky surface had cleared from the preceding cars.
 
“That felt really good!” he beamed at the finish. “We are level pegging with Scott (Pedder) now, and I hope we can have a great battle all weekend. The boys have prepared a great car and I can’t wait to start tomorrow.”
 
Drivers now prepare for the ceremonial start of the World Championship level event in Coffs Harbour, before the action proper starts tomorrow in the forests on the NSW North Coast.
 
ARMOR ALL Power Stage – Stage Times
1. Brendan Reeves (Mazda2) 1:45.6
2. Tony Sullens (Citroen DS3) 1:48.2
3. Adrian Coppin (Citroen DS3) 1:49.6
4. Steve Mackenzie (Ford Fiesta ST) 1:50.3
5. Michael Boaden (Volkswagen Polo) 1:52.0
6. Mick Patton (Volkswagen Polo) 1:56.7

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