Walkden confirms APRC withdrawal
- 29th March 2007, 10:05am
Speaking from his Launceston office this morning, Walkden told RallySport Magazine that after many weeks of trying, he couldn’t consolidate a deal to finalise his team’s entry in this year’s APRC.
“It’s disappointing, but after Subaru Australia withdrew all their support it was always going to be tough,” Walkden said. “I think I’ll take a holiday now.”
However Walkden’s decision is not all bad news for Cody Crocker, who has all but pieced together a deal with Motor Image Enterprises in Singapore to defend his title.
According to Crocker, the deal, which is still be finalized, will see him run a car for Subaru Singapore which will initially be prepared in Singapore, and then shipped to New Zealand where it will be completed before the second round of the APRC, the Rally of Whangarai.
“I certainly don’t see it as a parting of ways with Les,” Crocker said today. “This was an opportunity that came up that should see me being able to defend my APRC crown. The team I’ll be driving for ran Toshi Arai in two APRC rounds last year, so they should do a good job.”
Crocker will continue to have Ben Atkinson co-driving for him, but in the meantime he is busy preparing for the Bathurst 12 Hour race where he will share an Impreza WRX with Chris Atkinson and Dean Herridge.
Walkden, meanwhile, said that defending the Asia Pacific title was always his second choice this year, and that he had hoped to contest the PWRC in 2007.
“That didn’t happen, but I can pretty much confirm that I’ll be entering a car in the 2008 PWRC,” Walkden said.
However, that entry won’t necessarily be for Cody Crocker. Walkden is off on a holiday to Finland this weekend, where he’ll go ice fishing in Lapland, and will catch up with, among others, Lasse Lampi and Tommi Makinen.
“I’ll be talking to them about who the up-and-coming hotshots are in Finland, and there’s a good chance that we’ll put one of them in the car for the PWRC next year,” he added.
One driver Walkden is likely to target is 26-year old Juho Hanninen, the winner of Group N on this year’s Swedish Rally. Although Hanninen’s car was later excluded for a technical irregularity, he is a driver with plenty of potential, having won Group N on the Swedish and Italian rounds of the WRC in 2006.
Walkden’s Finnish links go back to when he had Lasse Lampi doing some development work on the Ralliart Australia Lancer Evo 7s a couple of years back.
“We still use a Finnish engine management system and Finnish suspension on our cars back here, and I’ve always got on well with the Finnish people we’ve dealt with,” Walkden said.
The Tasmanian trucking operator also hopes to catch up with his former driver, Juha Kangas, when he is in Finland. Kangas drove for Walkden in the Australian Rally Championship, in both a privately-funded and factory-backed Lancer Evo 7.
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