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Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has ended its 2006 motor sport program with a podium finish at the Mt Buller Sprint last weekend.

Sydney driver Warwick Rooklyn and co-driver Linda Long, took their Evolution IX Mitsubishi Lancer to third outright after eight 16km timed runs up the daunting Mt Buller access road and were consistently quick in each of the sprints up the mountain in Victoria’s High Country.

The pair finished third outright in the three-day event with a total time of 1 hour 11 minutes 21.32 seconds – little more than 20 seconds behind the winning Lamborghini Gallardo of  Tasmanians  Jason and John White.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Australian Rally Championship gravel pair, Scott Pedder and Glen Weston, entering their first tarmac event ever,  finished an excellent seventh at Mt Buller in their Group N-spec Evolution IX Lancer, closing a successful rally season for the Melbourne-based team.

According to TMR principal Alan Heaphy, Pedder and Weston may have finished in fourth or fifth place at Mt Buller if not for a gear selection problem which cost them about 50 seconds.

“We’ve ended our competition year on a very high note,” Heaphy said. “Rooklyn and Long were consistently very quick in our regular tarmac Evo IX. They did a brilliant job in achieving a podium, especially as they don’t have the advantage of competing as regularly as Cody Crocker and Ben Atkinson (who finished second in a Subaru Impreza).

“Scott and Glen have done an exceptional job, considering the car was only in Group N) spec and it was their first time competing on tarmac. It was a fun end to the year for them after the ARC, and winning the Rally of Melbourne a few weeks back, and the experience could prove very valuable for them in future.

“There are already a couple of short tarmac stages in the Australian Rally Championship and there is talk of a full tarmac round in the future,” Heaphy said.

Pedder added that he and Weston had found the tarmac event very different to a gravel rally saying that the biggest difference in the conditions was the grip achieved on the bitumen surface.

“The thing that strikes you most is the incredible grip,” Pedder said. “After the weekend we’ve put some tarmac rallying knowledge behind us in case we need it down the track. It’s an incredible piece of road at Mt Buller and we showed that a Group N car can be very competitive.”

Rooklyn, also, was happy with his result, saying it was nice to complete their schedule for the year with a clean run.

“Our aims for Mt Buller were to break the 9-minute barrier, get the car through the eight sprints without dramas, and end up on the podium – and we’ve achieved all of those, so we’re really happy.”

“It’s also been great to have teammates this time. Scott and Glen have done an excellent job in the Group N car. We’ve really enjoyed having them along – and they’ve had a ball, too.”

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