We were at the International Rally of Queensland over the weekend. Here we take a look at the Australian Rally Championship with this photo feature.
Scott Pedder’s pre-event promise to take every stage win at this weekend’s International Rally of Queensland looks well on course as he powered to a lead of over a minute in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship.
Pedder’s blistering speed, which included taking two outright stage victories against the far more powerful MRF Skoda’s, means he heads into the second day of the endurance event with a strong lead over rival Brendan Reeves.
“A really, really good day,” beamed Pedder at the end of day service. “We wanted to win every stage and that’s what we’ve been able to do, although the second time through Kandanga we did only win it by 0.1 seconds!”
“To take two outright stage wins too is incredible, however they are both downhill stages so that probably helps a little bit,” he admitted with a cheeky grin.
While Pedder has lived up to his pre-event commitment to push, rival Reeves had promised to take a far more cautious measured approach, a promise that he has equally kept.
“So far everything is going to plan,” he said despite the more than a minute lead in Scott’s favour. “We got through, we didn’t break anything and I’m keeping the Championship very clear in my mind.”
“I knew Scott was going to try to win every stage, so his speed didn’t surprise me. I was quite cautious this morning, and I pushed a bit harder this afternoon and it felt really good. The plan tomorrow is to up the pace again to start trying to put a bit of pressure on Scott.”
Reeves said he’s looking forward to the 35.72 kilometre stage fourteen tomorrow, and has pinpointed that one stage as his focus. “I think that stage will suit me, that’s the stage I’m looking forward to!”
After problem filled runs in Canberra and Western Australia, Citroen’s Tony Sullens was happy to report a clean day which has seen him move into third.
“The car has gone really well, and we’ve had no dramas which has been great,” Sullens explained.
“I did go out after lunch and have a real go on the longer stage. I got caught out on a left hander which I’d taken flat out on the morning’s pass, but it definitely wasn’t flat out the second time round.”
“We spun, had to fine reverse, that cost us a bit of time and just reminded me that I’m under no pressure so it made me back off a bit,” said Tony.
Debuting a brand new engine this Round had given Michael Boaden a few sleepless nights as he wondered about reliability, but after today’s stages he was a happy man.
“Today has been pretty good actually. I’m pretty satisfied right now, the engine has lasted and that’s the main thing. This weekend was about proving reliability, and getting miles on the car, so so far so good.”
In comparison fifth placed Adrian Coppin had a drama filled day, suffering two punctures this morning and with only one spare he was forced to drive for over fourteen kilometres with the flat tyre flapping on his Citroen.
“In two years of rallying we’ve never had a flat, then today we’ve had two and we had one during recce too, so it seems our luck has caught up with us,” he commented.
“This afternoon though the pace was there and that really boosted our confidence, we were having a really good scrap with Tony (Sullens) and (Michael) Boaden.”
After two strong results where Coppin has showcased incredible reliability, he can only hope that the drivers ahead of him hit problems. “We’re just too far behind, but if someone in front has trouble then a podium is still a chance.”
James Wilson rounds out the top six in his Group N Ford Fiesta ST. Dramas for Mick Patton who made the retirement list after he broke the exhaust on his VW Polo.
“We broke the dump pump in half, and when we got to the end of the Derrier stage we could smell something burning. So we leapt out because we didn’t want to watch the car go up in flames, but it was just the smell of the exhaust heating up the mud and dirt up on the firewall,” Patton explained.
“We decided we weren’t in a Championship race with anyone so we pulled out to check the car over properly and make sure we can go out again tomorrow. Before we hit the problems the car was great, we were right on the back of Michael Boaden and Adrian Coppin.”
In the National 4WD category Queensland local Jay Davidson has been punting his Subaru Impreza with fearsome abandon and currently sits almost eighteen seconds ahead of NSW driver Peter Roberts’ Mitsubishi Lancer.
While fellow Mitsubishi driver Mike Bailey, who had been hoping to use his local experience, sits further adrift in third almost a minute and a half off the pace.
Scott Pedder has blitzed his East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship rivals, winning the Round and in the process also claiming second outright in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
Pedder held a minute lead overnight, having dominated the day winning each and every special stage, and he was determined to ensure that he kept that lead on the race to the finish podium in Imbil.
“I went out on the first two stages this morning and had a really big go,” said Scott. “I had a good lead but I wanted to put it right out of Brendan’s (Reeves) reach, and we were able to do that.”
Showers overnight and again during the day did cause concern for drivers, the notoriously high clay content in the Queensland roads proving particularly slippery on the morning’s third stage Kandanga.
“I thought I’d back off a bit but we managed to increase the lead over Brendan, despite the very, very slippery roads. I knew then that it was a case of cruising to the end and locking away the victory,” Scott explained.
“We’ve had good weekends in Canberra and WA this year but been let down at the last minute by problems. So it’s a terrific feeling for me, for Dale (Moscatt, co-driver) and for the entire Walkinshaw team to secure this result this weekend,” he added.
The result helps Pedder bridge the gap to Championship points leader Reeves, who continued to maintain a consistent pace during Leg Two to finish second in the ECB ARC and third outright in the APRC.
“Friday obviously didn’t go to plan (when he collided with a tree on the ARMOR ALL Power Stage) but everything after that has been perfect. The car has performed perfectly, we got it to the finish and we still have the points lead over Scott,” stated Brendan.
“Scott drove really well, he was really fast and even when he had a good lead over us he was still pushing, which made no sense to me. We look forward now to the next Round in South Australia,” continued Reeves.
Citroen’s Tony Sullens rounded out the podium, finishing third but over seven minutes off the outright pace set by Scott Pedder. “We made a few changes to the car overnight and it felt really good to drive today, it gave me a lot more confidence to push.”
“With such a big gap in front and behind I really wasn’t trying to hard most of the weekend, I really was concentrating on having a clean weekend and getting the car to the finish, and we managed that perfectly,” said Sullens.
Fourth place fell the way of Michael Boaden, the VW driver taking it cautiously with his developmental engine, which was newly installed for this Round. “Really pleased with how the engine went, it feels strong and the whole plan for this weekend was just to prove it was reliable.”
“We’ve proven that now, so we switch focus to the proper race engine we’re working on and have it ready for South Australia. I can’t wait, it should be fantastic!” he beamed.
Adrian Coppin had proven fast and consistent during the opening Rounds this year, however his good luck turned to misfortune this weekend with two punctures yesterday and a major suspension failure today.
“The first two stages were ok, then on the jump towards the end of the second stage we probably landed a bit hard and it damaged the front left suspension strut,” explained Adrian.
“Then in the next stage Kandanga we either jumped too hard or hit a compression too hard because it properly let go and we had to drive the 35 kilometre stage on just the spring!”
“We got it fixed though and this afternoon we were right on Tony’s (Sullens, team mate) pace which was good and frustrating at the same time,” Coppin continued.
A consistent performance by James Wilson in his near standard Ford Fiesta ST netted him sixth outright and the valuable Championship points on offer.
Photos (c) Sam Tickell, June 2014
Words from ARC media materials
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