PHOTO: A design concept for the Skoda Fabia R5 Australians Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt will campaign in at least five rounds of the FIA WRC this season.
AUSTRALIAN Rally Champion Scott Pedder will represent his country in the FIA World Rally Championship again this year, announcing today a five-event WRC2 program including Kennards Hire Rally Australia in a new Skoda Fabia R5 car.
With long-time co-driver Dale Moscatt, Pedder will contest gravel-road WRC events in Portugal (19-25 May), Poland (1-3 July), Finland (28-31 July) and Australia (17-20 November, NSW Coffs Coast) and the tarmac Rally China-Beijing (8-11 September) and will consider two more European events if his results are good.
To get up to speed before they head for Europe, the Aussie pair will run their 2014 Australian Championship Renault Sport Clio in Round 1 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in New Zealand next week.
Pedder’s 2015 debut in the ultra-competitive WRC2 at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 included a spectacular fourth place in Rally Finland, one of the world’s fastest and most challenging rallies.
“We’d really hoped to undertake a return year in WRC2, so to be able to confirm our plans for the year ahead is very exciting,” the Melbourne-based driver said.
“We are excited to be linking up with last year’s WRC2 Champions AutoTek Motorsport in the Skoda R5.
“Our plan is to undertake two solid days of testing before our first event together. I really learnt last year the value of time in these cars; they are incredibly tuneable and it’s important to get the right feel before the first stage starts.”
AutoTek Motorsport team principal Ken Skidmore said: “We are really pleased to welcome Scott and Dale into our team.
“We are really looking forward to 2016. We know that Scott is relatively new to the WRC but believe that with the experience our team has, the speed and determination Scott showed last year, that a few surprises are on the cards this year for the WRC2 regulars.”
The Chairman of Rally Australia, Ben Rainsford, said Pedder’s return to WRC2 would be a major boost for Kennards Hire Rally Australia and the Coffs Coast.
“There’s no better way to engage the public with this incredibly exciting sport of world rallying than by having an Australian crew to barrack for – just like we follow Daniel Ricciardo in Formula 1,” Rainsford said.
“Scott and Dale are a talented, experienced and determined combination and have equipped themselves with the very latest WRC2 car in the Skoda Fabia R5.
“We wish them good fortune in Europe and China and especially when they hit the Coffs Coast ‘home’ roads for Kennards Hire Rally Australia on 17-20 November.”
Experience was the key to Pedder’s season last year, both of the events and his new car, and he admits he struggled significantly at times.
“Portugal and Sardinia were very hard events for me last year. There was just so much to get my head around, like learning to drive a very different 4WD, and of course the events themselves. And then we had some reliability issues with both power steering and suspension arms in Poland but Sunday in Poland was the turning point. I would have liked to have started the year again after Finland,” he said.
“The R5 cars are incredible, but they can be very finicky. The two days’ testing before Portugal this year should really help me find that feeling again in the Skoda and be in the best shape to tackle the event. Having the knowledge of the stages and events from last year is also a huge advantage.
“I’m also going to employ a smarter strategy, because there were times last year where that probably let me down. If I’d driven in the middle of the road in Portugal and made it to the finish at a sensible pace there would have been every chance of a top five finish. There will be times this year on these long and tough events where that is what you have to do, balance the speed with caution.”
Pedder will face fierce rivals, with Skoda fielding factory-backed Fabias for Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand, M-Sport WRC driver Elfyn Evans in a Fiesta R5 and other R5 entries for Armin Kremer (Germany), Julien Maurin (France), Teemu Suninen (Finland), Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (Qatar) and a host of other experienced drivers.
“Last year was insane from a competition point of view, it was absolutely incredible and this year seems just as competitive,” he said.
“I don’t think we are at top-three pace level just yet, but maybe we can start to push for some outright splits and stage times and if we can be consistent I think we can achieve some podiums and be right in the fight.”
Pedder and Moscatt’s WRC2 program will again be supported by Pedders Suspension, Swisse Vitamins and Noisy Beast Advertising.
Follow the team at –
www.scottpedder.com.au and www.wrc.com
(Twitter) @scottpeddercom or #scottpedder