Motor : Crocker will be a relaxed man

N. Ganesh

Longyou (China): Australian champion driver Cody Crocker will be a relaxed man at the starting point when the last round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2006 begins at Longyou County in the Zhejiang Province in South China on Sunday.

Crocker, the Australian rally champion for the last three years, just needs a start here to win the APRC title on his debut. Les Walkden Rallying's Crocker, driving a Subaru Impreza, has bagged 78 points so far, to be on top.

The 35-year-old Crocker is sure to make it to the podium, but the race is still on for the second spot. Team MRF has former APRC champion Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan, 44 points) and Jarkko Miettinen (Finland, 30 points) eyeing the spot. Taguchi will be driving a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, while Miettinen will be in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VII.

However, the duo will be facing a tough fight from the Japanese Hioshi Yanagisava (Cusco Racing, 33 points) and the Indonesian Rifat Sungkar (Indonesian Rally Team, 31 points).

Positive report

Miettinen has been a regular at the Chinese National Championship legs through this year, and it will give him the much-needed confidence to start on a positive note.

Longyou County, midway along the east coast of China, is located about 400 kilometres south of Shanghai, the major city of the country. The stages are narrow and hilly and run through bamboo plantations, which mark the Zhejiang Province. The mercury level has dipped to less than ten, and the rain, which is a regular visitor during this time of the year here, is sure to add more thrills to the culminating round.

Rainy weather and slippery conditions are worrying the drivers here, but Team MRF has an advantage as MRF has developed mud tyres for slushy conditions. A ceremonial start was held on Saturday at the Shiyuan Super Special Stage, which is located almost 14 kilometres away from here. Altogether 39 drivers will be vying for honours.

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