Team Subaru driver, Possum Bourne, has taken a step closer to a record fourth consecutive Australian Rally Championship title by winning Heat One of the Saxon Safari Rally in Tasmania today. Bourne led his rival Neal Bates for most of the day,...
Team Subaru driver, Possum Bourne, has taken a step closer to a record fourth consecutive Australian Rally Championship title by winning Heat One of the Saxon Safari Rally in Tasmania today.
Bourne led his rival Neal Bates for most of the day, finishing one minute 53 seconds clear after 113 competitive kilometers.
The two tied the opening Super Special Stage at the Derwent Entertainment Centre in Hobart, but once the event moved to the forests the reigning title holder established his dominance once again.
The Subaru Impreza WRC took two seconds from the Toyota Celica WRC on the day's second stage. On the third stage both had a spin-out but Bourne recovered more quickly. Suddenly his lead was out to 29 seconds and the day was within his control.
After SS6 Bourne still had a 27 second break on Bates, the lead then blowing out to nearly two minutes on the last when the Toyota suffered a flat tyre.
Bourne, and co-driver Craig Vincent, can now afford to finish as low as fourth tomorrow and still take enough points to win their fourth ARC driver's and co-driver's title. In the 30-year history of the Championship, such a run of success has never been achieved.
In head-to-head victories this year, Bourne is now up five heats to one over Bates. Since the advent of the Super Series format in 1997, the Team Subaru driver has a 22 to four record over his Toyota rival.
In other good news for Team Subaru, Cody Crocker has taken an unassailable lead in the Group N ARC Championship. The young Victorian and his co-driver Greg Foletta are looking for their second consecutive production class ARC title.
From the outset Crocker made his intentions clear. His job was to secure the season's Group N title rather than get locked in a dogfight with Ed Ordynski for the Saxon Safari honours.
In the end Crocker was 40 seconds behind the Ordynski's Mitsubishi Lancer but a clear second in his class.
Bourne was delighted with the day's outcome.
"That's the first part of the job done, but tomorrow we have to finish it," Bourne said.
"It just takes a little bit of pressure off us. Neal really needed to beat us twice here. Obviously we stopped that happening today so just a solid performance will be enough in Heat Two."
"But we have been around this sport long enough to know you never take a finish for granted."
'We'll sit back tonight and think about how we'll tackle things tomorrow. Not until Sunday afternoon can we relax or afford to think the job's all done."
Final Results - Heat One Saxon Safari
1 Bourne/Vincent Subaru Impreza WRC P5 62.02 2 Bates/Taylor Toyota Corolla WRC P5 63.55 3 Ordynski/Stewart Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 N4 65.38 4 Crocker/Foletta Subaru Impreza WRX N4 66.18
Australian Rally Championship http://www.rally.com.au