AUSTRALIAN rally champion Scott Pedder sits comfortably fifth place in the WRC2 category at Neste Oil Rally Finland after 18 stages.
At the start of the weekend Pedder said he’d be ecstatic to finish in the top five and at the end of the second full day of competition and with just two stages remaining o Sunday he is on course to achieve that outstanding result in just his fourth WRC outing.
Having climbed into sixth after Friday’s demanding stages Pedder and co-driver Dale Moscatt knew that Saturday’s pace would need to be more considered and less flat out.
“The nature of the roads today was a little rougher, in amongst the trees, so we knew it would be riskier to continue the same pace we had yesterday,” Pedder said.
“So we reviewed the pace notes overnight, added a few extra ‘cautions’ on areas we felt might be a bit tricky, and drove to a plan today.
“There were sections today that actually felt a lot like the roads we use in Canberra, a little rough, a bit rocky in places. Still very fast, but not the smooth sweeping roads we had yesterday.
“We continued to carry just the one spare today, so we knew we couldn’t afford to have more than one puncture. In the end though the day went exceptionally well, we had no issues and no moments to speak of, it was in a way a very cruisy day.”
Despite carrying a more relaxed style Pedder maintained top 10 WRC2 times across all eight of the day’s stages, including a top-five time on Special Stage 16, the 21.14km Jukojärvi.
But Pedder said the absolute highlight was the two passes over the 15.59km Horkka stage.
“I’d say that is probably the best stage of my life. It’s amazing, absolutely beautiful. You go from pine forest to sections beside lakes.”
With the bulk of the rally’s competitive distance now behind him Pedder and Moscatt have the final leg’s two Special Stages to contend with, a back-to-back pass over the Myhinpää, totalling just over 28 kilometres.
“It is a short day but the stage we use is very much like Ouninpohja from yesterday, very fast, with the big jumps and crests,” Pedder said.
“So there is still plenty that could catch us out if we don’t keep that concentration level up and stay committed, that’s the plan.”