Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Victorious in Victoria

25th September, 2006


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Victorious in Victoria

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has ended the NEC Australian Rally Championship on a high, with its Lancer Evolution IX driven by Scott Pedder and Glen Weston winning the final round - the NGK Rally of Melbourne.

The Evo IX and its crew overcame incredibly tough opposition and adverse conditions to triumph in the two-day event in the Yarra Valley.

TMR emerged from the event with its drivers scoring 55.5 points to the 54 of Toyota pair Simon and Sue Evans.

The Evo IX won Saturday's first heat by 16.4 seconds from the Toyota and led Sunday's second heat until the very last stage, finishing just 1.2 seconds behind.

Pedder and Weston knew that TMR had the outright win in the bag provided they got the Evo IX to the finish and they did not want to jeopardise that.

It was Melbourne driver Pedder's first round victory on his home soil, although he first won a heat on this event - as a privateer - in 2003.

"We were determined to finish this season with a round win and it feels very sweet to have done that," Pedder said.

"The Evo IX has been brilliant. We've won a heat at each of the last four rounds of the championship, and to win this final round overall has been very satisfying.

"Rallying is a very tough and demanding sport but we've hardly put a mark on the car in these past four events."

"Things didn't go our way in the first couple of rounds of the season but we certainly came on strong after that."

"We were stiff not to have won a round before Melbourne, but now we've done it - that's the important thing."

The Rally of Melbourne marked the end of the second season for Pedder and Weston as factory drivers.

They have won a round both years, taking victory at Rally South Australia last season in a Lancer Evolution VIII Ralliart - and they were unlucky not to repeat that in the Evo IX last month.

TMR principal Alan Heaphy paid tribute to the drivers and his crew based at Mitsubishi Ralliart's headquarters at Dandenong in Melbourne.

"The guys, led by Pete West and Alan Swanson, put in an incredible effort each season and for each event, so it's tremendously satisfying when it all comes together as it has this weekend," Heaphy said.

"The drivers have done a terrific job and produced the appropriate reward for everyone."

"This win has been a while coming, but the important thing is that we have achieved it."

The Lancer Evo IX and the leading Toyota each won five of the 14 stages in Melbourne, but Pedder and Weston gained the 1.5 bonus points on a countback by virtue of winning a stage first - the opening stage on Saturday morning.

Two of the longer stages - the scheduled second pass over the 24.83km Kalatha and 13.58km Blowhard stages - had to be cancelled on Sunday afternoon after a fierce storm swept through the Yarra Valley, leaving trees strewn across the course.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Victorious in Victoria

"I've never seen hail as heavy as today, although I have driven on roads more slippery in Rally SA a few years back," Pedder said.

"With trees down across the roads there wasn't any option but to cancel those stages to complete the rally on time."

Rally drivers are always up for anything, but there wasn't anything else that could be done this time. That's just how it was. Although Simon was a fraction quicker than us on the final couple of stages we were focused on getting to the finish, knowing that if we did we had the win for the weekend - and that's what we did."

Points for leading drivers at NGK Rally of Melbourne -
Scott Pedder (Mitsubishi) 55.5,
Simon Evans (Toyota) 54,
Neal Bates (Toyota) 39,
Dean Herridge (Subaru) 39,
Kevin Shaw (Mitsubishi) 18.

Season points -
Simon Evans 224,
Neal Bates 193,
Dean Herridge 187,
Scott Pedder 168.5,
Darren Windus (Subaru) 81,
Stewart Reid (Toyota) 72,
Will Orders (Subaru) 69,
Simon Jansen (Mitsubishi) 29.5,
Roman Watkins (Subaru) 28,
David Hills (Mitsubishi) 27.

Other Mitsubishi news: here.

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