AUSTRALIANS Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt have enjoyed their most successful day in the FIA World Rally Championship, finishing Leg One of Neste Oil Rally Finland 16th outright and sixth in the WRC2 category in their Ford Fiesta R5.
Despite daunting high-speed roads and massive jumps Pedder and co-driver Moscatt built their pace on a day that covered almost half the event’s competitive distance.
“It does feel really good to get to the end of a day like we had today in Finland and be in such a positive position,” the Melbourne driver said.
“We were helped by a few DNF’s from other WRC2 drivers and we had a few little problems over the course of the day, but I was happy with our pace against the drivers who have grown up rallying on these types of roads.
“I think the thing that is most pleasing is the literally hundreds of local spectators who have come up to Dale and I during the day just to say how great it’s been to see a first-timer to the event drive the way we drove today.
“Dale and I really pride ourselves on attacking events even if we haven’t driven them before and it’s really pleasing to have others recognise that too.”
Pedder’s pace on the flat-out Finnish roads was evident from the morning’s first test, the 14.51km Pihlajakoski stage, where he set the eighth-fastest WRC2 time. And from there on he set top-10 times over the course of the day to stay in touch with the WRC2 leaders.
“We were probably 98 percent flat out today,” Pedder sad.
“I was probably a little cautious with my driving, and with my pace notes over the jumps. Some we’d arrive at too slowly, others too fast and struggle to pull the car up before the next corner. All that comes with experience, but that’s where we lost time today.
“Having said that the roads are amazing! In the recce car they did look quite daunting but once you’re in the rally car they are just beautiful to drive.
“Just the flow of the roads and the smoothness of the jumps, it’s quite incredible.”
Pedder praised Moscatt, saying that what he loved about rallying on the Finnish roads in turn made the co-driver’s job incredibly difficult.
“Dale did amazing today. Finland is so tough on the co-driver, the car is always airborne and the nature of the roads means the pace of calling the notes is constantly changing too. It’s very tricky but as always he was incredible.”
Over the afternoon stages Pedder further increased his pace and on the second run over the famous Ouninpohja stage, a Rally Finland classic, he grabbed the fifth fastest WRC2 time of the day.
“I actually had the biggest moment of the day on the first run through Ouninpohja where I ran wide into a ditch on the rev-limiter in fifth gear. So I think I wanted to make up for that and have a clean run.”
He then went onto grab two top-six stage times on the day’s final two stages.
“We ended the day in a great position and with a decent time gap in front and behind us. The aim now is to manage the pace because I don’t think we can catch the guys ahead. If anyone has a problem though we’ll be there to capitalise.”
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