SPORT

Motor : Taguchi likely to face stiff competition

P. Satish Kumar

CANBERRA: The charm of any sport lies in healthy competition. Katsuhiko Taguchi of Team MRF (co-driver Mark Stacey) had no such competition in the first round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in New Caledonia.

With Cody Crocker of Motor Image Rally Team opting out of the New Caledonia round (each team has the option of skipping one round out of seven), Taguchi raced ahead right from the start to gain maximum points.

In the second round, which will begin with the customary ceremonial start on Friday, it would be a different scenario altogether. A tough fight is expected between Taguchi and Crocker, champion for the last two years.

Big fight

In fact, after winning the first round, Taguchi said: “This is a very good result for us. I’m now looking forward to Canberra. It’s an event I like, but it will be a big fight.” Taguchi is, however, a seasoned campaigner and would be hoping to sustain the momentum.

Canberra is familiar turf for Crocker and he knows the routes thoroughly. He has been ably assisted by co-driver Ben Atkinson, also an Australian, while drawing up plans.

This was evident in 2007 when Crocker won his fourth crown in the Rally of Canberra.

The best

Crocker has grown from strength to strength and is now considered the best in the APRC circuit.

Team MRF’s new Australian entrant Scott Pedder (Glen Weston) had mixed fortunes in New Caledonia.

He had a superb first day but crashed out on the second, falling victim to one of the slippery stages.

Pedder, however, was not one to be crestfallen. He put it down to bad luck and said: “I was just caught out by the slippery roads.

“Canberra is next, and my home event. Hopefully, I can get a good result for the team there.”

If Pedder can chip in, given his knowledge of the terrain, Team MRF will fancy its chances of doing well in Canberra. However, Crocker has the credentials to upset all such calculations.

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