Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker, has produced another dominant display to take a two minute 16.9 second lead into the final day of Rally China tomorrow.
The field completed nine special stages today in appalling conditions. Constant rain turned the roads into a quagmire, but Crocker thrived in the mud to take his Les Walkden Rallying-prepared Impreza WRX STI to the fastest time on six of the nine stages contested.
With the Asia-Pacific Championship already secured, Crocker drove without inhibitions, actually enjoying the extreme conditions.
With six stages remaining, Japan's Hiroshi Yanigasawa is in second place with UK's David Higgins third, a further 59.4 seconds back.
Fellow Les Walkden Rallying driver, Eli Evans, is fifth outright and fourth among the APRC registered competitors.
The 35-year-old Crocker was delighted he and co-driver Ben Atkinson had safely negotiated the difficult conditions.
"So far so good," said Crocker at the service park at the end of the day.
"It was really extreme out there, but I managed to have fun, pushing hard but keeping clean lines and not taking any risks."
"We've got a handy buffer over the field and we'd really like to finish the season on a high tomorrow."
"Six more stages, and one of those is done three times, so it will be diabolical by the end. There are plenty of challenges left but we're working on getting to the finish line in first place."
"Then we'll have time to relax and think about what we've done this season. But not until then."
Evans and co-driver Chris Murphy survived suspension damage on Special Stage Six but made it back to the service park for repairs. They returned to the fray and produced consistently quick times to remain in the battle for an APRC podium place tomorrow.
Results - Rally China - End Leg One (Provisional only)
1 *C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1:50:52.3
2 *H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2 mins 16.9 secs
3 D Higgins, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:02.0
4 *J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:16.3
5 *E Evans (Aus), M McAdam (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3:42.0
6 K Kamada, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +4:03.4
* = APRC registered competitors