Crocker makes history
WHILE most readers of this column could rattle off the names of at least half a dozen V8 Supercar drivers, how many are familiar with the name Cody Crocker?
Crocker, a three time Australian Rally Champion has just created motor sport history, becoming the first driver to win four Asia Pacific Rally Championship titles.
In extreme weather conditions, with temperatures over 35C, the Victorian claimed his fourth straight championship after dominating the sixth round of the APRC, the Rally of Indonesia. His fourth consecutive championship sees him one title win ahead of a string of the world’s greatest rally drivers, including his Subaru mentor the late Peter “Possum” Bourne and Sweden’s Kenneth Eriksson, both of whom won three titles. Former Australian Rally Champion Ross Dunkerton, who now lives in Cairns, won in 1991-92 driving a Mitsubishi Galant VR4. Former multiple WRC and Dakar Rally Champion Carlos Sainz also won the event. First conducted in 1988, the APRC comprises rounds in Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Indonesia, China and here in Queensland.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s an incredible feeling to win four APRC titles and it makes all the effort that Ben (co-driver), the team and I have put in this year worthwhile. I’ve managed to tick every box in my career so far, just the WRC is the elusive one. If I can get something in that then I’d be wrapped,” he said. Crocker’s co-driver Ben Atkinson is the brother of Queensland’s former World Rally Championship Subaru Team driver, Chris Atkinson.
RICCIARDO’S F1 TEST SESSION
AFTER a very successful three day test with Red Bull, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo may be employed as their reserve driver. Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner said the 20-year-old from Perth was a very promising talent and hinted that Ricciardo could become the team’s reserve next season for Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, if they get injured or ill.
In Ricciardo’s F1 test session with Red Bull at the Jerez circuit in Spain, the recently crowned UK Formula 3 Champion drove the most laps on day one and, despite an early spin, was third fastest of all the teams on track on day two, less than half a second off the pace.
A delighted Ricciardo said: “I didn’t stop smiling all day. As I expected the team was really good and let me do my own thing. Once I was comfortable we started working trying to get up to speed”. Ricciardo also revealed he had some advice from fellow Australian Mark Webber. “He gave me a call last night just giving me a bit of a heads up before the test and let me know what to expect,” he said. Ricciardo will be racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series next year.
SYDNEY’S OLYMPIC PARK HOTS UP
IN this weekend’s final round of the V8 Supercar Championship 888 Falcon driver Jamie Whincup only needs to finish 28th or better in either race to win back to back titles.
The event is to be raced on the new Mark Skaife designed street circuit at Sydney’s Olympic Park at Homebush.
So as to book-end the season with 500km events, the Sydney 400 has become the Sydney 500 – as is the opening round, the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
Teams will contest two 250km races, one today and one tomorrow. In a turnaround from the paltry crowds which used to attend Sydney’s V8 Supercar round at Eastern Creek Raceway, the predicted 150,000 strong crowd is almost certain to be eclipsed. Australian rock band Cold Chisel, with Jimmy Barnes out front will come out of retirement and provide the evening entertainment.