APRC 2009 – Rally QueenslandBy Bruce • May 21st, 2009 • Category: Transcripts
Transcript of APRC Live – Rally Queensland 2009
There’s a change of venue for the second round of the season, and the big guns of the competition are back to fight for the championship crown. It’s Rally Queensland time, and we’ve got all the news and results from the last round on the Sunshine Coast, right here on APRC Live.
Hi, I’m Bruce McKinnon and welcome back to APRC Live for our coverage of the second round of APRC 2009, Rally Queensland.
The season is really starting to heat up now, with the return of the all-conquering Motor Image Racing Team, lead by triple-champions Cody Crocker and Ben Atkinson, and this year paired with the series first all-female crew, Kiwi Emma Gilmore and her new Australian co-driver Rhianon Smith.
And taking on the Motor Image Subarus once again, the MRF Lancers have made a late entry into the series, with Crocker’s arch-rival Katsu Taguchi in last year’s Evo IX, and PWRC regular Gaurav Gill in a brand-new Evo X.
As well as Motor Image, MRF and the series regulars, Brian Green, Hayden Paddon and Jean-Louis Leyraud, some experienced locals and international joined the field. Two-time Australian champ Simon Evans, driving Scott Pedders Evo 9 from last season joined the APRC field. Although not eligible to score APRC points, he was there to show the international teams just what he can do.
The Pirelli Star Driver competition enticed Simon’s younger brother Eli Evans to join the field, plus Brendan Reeves and Nathan Quinn, all battling for the chance to compete at September’s Rally Australia and the promise of a coveted PWRC drive in 2010.
And experienced internationals Atsushi Masumura from Japan and Rui Wang from China completed a 13-car strong field.
It’s a change of venue for the Australian round of the series. For the past decade Canberra has hosted the event, almost guaranteeing a tight battle between the leading crews, who all had years of experience on the dusty Canberra forest tracks.
But the move to Imbil on the Sunshine coast hinterland means the locals now have a distinct advantage. Rally Queensland is possibly the most technically demanding rally on the Australian rally calendar. It’s a place that rewards local knowledge, and its a place where Cody Crocker has won before.
— IV: Crocker Day 1, Pt 1
If the event had remained in Canberra, Crocker’s brand new Subaru Impreza may have been a disadvantage. A new and untested car pitted against Taguchi’s fast and proven MRF Lancer. But the nature of the Queensland roads meant he and the other drivers looking to knock Crocker off his pedestal would have to bank on the new Motor Image cars failing.
And during Saturday’s seven stages, Crocker’s local knowledge came to the fore. 2005 was the last time he competed in Queensland, but he’d won there 6 times prior to this event. The depth of expierence was just too much for Taguchi to overcome, and although the Japanese driver set respectible times himself, Crocker managed to beat him on every stage.
— IV: Katsu – Day 1
Katsu’s Evo 9 was perfectly reliable, and third quickest among the APRC field was an outstanding result at his first attempt. Crocker was fast, but Simon Evans was faster. If his goal was to impress the internationals, he was certainly succeeding. He’d won here in 2007 and 2008, and again headed the field, beating Crocker by 39 secs over the days 7 stages.
Behind Crocker and Taguchi, their team-mates were having a few more problems. Both Gaurav Gill and Emma Gilmore were in brand-new, untested cars, and both had issues during the day.
12 months ago Gill was sidelined with a knee injury, and struggling to cement his place in the MRF team. But his maiden victory in Indonesia last year and a full-time PWRC drive for Sidvin seems to have unlocked reserves of confidence. Fading tyres and brakes dogged him all day and he lost more than two minutes to Crocker. But to his credit, he worked around these problems to bring his Evo X to evening service in the third point-scoring position.
— IV: Gill – Day 1
Behind Gill, Emma Gilmore was not only learning a new car, but also a new team and co-driver. An engine problem slowed her progress and she finished two minutes behind the second MRF car.
— IV: Gilmore – Day 1
Unfortunately for the three APRC competitors who contested the washed-out New Caledonia round, the chance of scenery had no brought a change of fortune.
Hayden Paddon is one of the dominant forces in New Zealand domestic rallying at the moment, but problems have dogged his APRC car. His times for the first couple of stages were reasonable. But during stage 3 he hit a causeway too quickly, a large rock tearing a hole in the differential. He was forced endure another two stages before making it back to service park, but by then he’d dropped to the bottom of the time sheets. Although reasonable times in the final two stages meant he finished the day as the 5th point-scoring APRC car, he was now two minutes behind Gilmore.
Jean-Louis Leyraud held both the young Kiwis at bay for most of the day, but a last stage puncture saw him lose around 3 minutes, and he tumbled down the leader board to finish 18 secs behind Paddon.
But by far the highest flyer of the day was Brian Green. The veteran Kiwi was cagey about his day when I spoke to him at the end of the stage 7. But co-driver Fleur Pedersen was a little more forth-coming, and their lucky escape after 5th-gear take-off over a blind crest.
— IV: Fleur – Day 1
— New Caledonia Ad
They are back and supporting the podcast yet again. I really have to thank New Caledonia Tourism for their generous support of the podcast this year, and course the support they provide to rallying in New Caledonia. They’ve been long-time supporters of Jean-Louis Leyraud, and for the past two seasons they’ve helped APRC Live. So a big thanks to New Caledonia Tourism, and make sure you go to their web site, www.newcaledonia.com.au, check out the holiday deals and start planning your next holiday in the sun.
And while I’m on the topic of thinking people, I have to give a huge shout-out to Alan McDonald of MacSpeed Foto for organising the interviews for this event. Alan did an incredible job of getting around to each of the crews so I could interview them by phone, and well as doing his regular job of actually taking photos of the event. So I think you Alan, and I’m sure the other listeners of the podcast thank you as well!
— Email Sweeper
As I mentioned earlier in the show, Rally Queensland is a qualifying round for the Pirelli Star Driver competition, but the rules are a little different this year.
Like last year, the fastest two drivers in the qualifying rounds are determined by a points scoring system. Points are awarded for each stage, and the driver with the most points wins. You don’t need to make it to the finish line, but you do need to be consistently quick.
This year drivers can qualify at each APRC round, with the shootout held at Rally Australia in September.
At Rally Queensland, four drivers lined up to qualify; Pacific Cup entrant Hayden Paddon, and locals Eli Evans, Brendan Reeves and Nathan Quinn.
And it was a two horse race for the most of the event between the two former Les Walkden team drivers. Eli Evans got off to a great start by winning the first three stages, but Brendan Reeves stormed back in the afternoon to take four wins in a row and finish Saturday with a 1 point advantage.
But Eli came back on Sunday morning, the two locked on points after 10 stages. Eli went ahead once more on stage 11, but the next stage was a disaster. His Subaru swallowed too much water at a creek crossing on stage 12, the car stopping on stage.
That was Eli’s rally done, and Brendan eased his way home for a clear victory.
— IV: Reeves – Day 2
— Hayden – Promo
Back to the day 2 action at Rally Queensland, and for the international crews their experience of the Saturdays stages would be of little benefit on Sunday. Although leg 2 stages would use the same roads as leg 1, only three would be repeats, while the remaining four were re-runs of Saturday stages but in the opposite direction.
For the crews at the head of the field, only the opening stage was a different story to that of leg 1. A puncture mid-way through the 12km ‘Million LA’ stage saw Cody Crocker drop nearly a minute to the stage winning time of Simon Evans. And Taguchi was proving himself to be a fast learner, shaving almost a second per-kilometer on these two repeat stages.
— IV: Taguchi – Day 2
Crocker’s early puncture seemed not to scare him, but to spur him on. On the following stage he beat all the crews, including Simon Evans, and took back 14 of the 36 seconds Taguchi had won on the opener. For the outright win, it was a fight between the Motor Image champion and Evans, and the battle was tight throughout the day.
— IV: Crocker – Day 2, Pt 1
A man definitely making up time on Sunday was Hayden Paddon. His first three days of APRC rallying had been dogged by disappointment. But on Sunday, he was showing the field just how fast he can be when his car is working. For most of the day he was quicker than Taguchi, and with one stage to go was point-3 ahead for the leg.
The crews had been pushing themselves all day, but there was no respite with the final stage being a 34km monster called ‘Phat Lady’.
A combination of two other stages linked by unused roads, it was just familiar enough to catch out the unwary, and that’s exactly what happened.
Gaurav Gill and Emma Gilmore had both struck problems with their new cars on Saturday, but Sunday was proving to be better. They were well off the lead but having their own battle, Gilmore beating her more experienced rival on the first stage, Gill shading her on the remaining stages.
There was no expectation of a change of position; large gaps between third placed Gill and forth-placed Gilmore had been set on the opening day. It was more a battle of pride.
But on ‘Phat Lady’, things took a very dramatic turn, as Gaurav Gill explains.
— IV: Gill – Day 2
Gaurav did managed to drag his car out of the stage and back to service park to register a finish. But with nearly four minutes lost, third place was was handed to Emma Gilmore. It may have been due to Gill’s misfortune, but the young Kiwi had performed well in her first APRC event and returned the kind of result Motor Image will expect of her for the rest of the year.
— IV: Gilmore – Day 1
While one Kiwi had benefited from Gill’s puncture, it spelt disaster for another. Forth car on the road and, critically, the car immediately following Gill, Paddon soon caught the Indian on stage. Blinded in the dust from the MRF Lancer, he took the wrong over the causeway that caused him problems on Saturday. Hitting the large rocks that litter the side of the road, the left-rear suspension was destroyed and he too was left to drag his car out of the stage.
To their credit, Padden and co-driver John Kennard did make it to the finish line, but the time lost meant they dropped to 6th place, the final APRC crew home.
Brian Green was again reliable, taking 5th place after Jean-Louis Leyraud rolled off the road and out of the rally on stage 11.
Simon Evans took the outright win with almost a minute and a half advantage. But the APRC win belonged to Cody Crocker, the triple champion finishing more than a minute 20 in front of Taguchi, and showing signs that he really does want to become the first driver to win the title four times.
And that wraps up Rally Queensland for 2009.
The next stop on the APRC calendar is Whangarei in early June, and it’s an event that all of the crews know well.
Hayden Paddon will be back in his NZ championship winning car, so expect to see him at the front of the field. He beat Crocker in Whangarei two years ago, and he’s still to qualify for the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out, so he’ll be out ensure a strong result.
And no doubt Emma Gilmore will be looking to strengthen her hold on third place in the championship points at her home event.
You can see the full championship leader board at aprclive.com, as well as news of the series between events. And of course you can listen to, or download, each of the old shows at aprclive.com, or you can find us in the iTunes music store. Just search for ‘APRC Live’.
The season really is in full swing now, so to take us out let’s hear from the man who has already taken the lead in the series, Cody Crocker.
— IV: Crocker – Final