SCOTT Pedder and Dale Moscatt have endured a rough and tumble start to their weekend at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, the opening round of their 2016 FIA World Rally Championship campaign.

Having completed two successful days of testing in their new WRC2 Skoda Fabia R5 earlier in the week, along with their new team for 2016 from AutoTek Motorsports, Pedder and Moscatt had high hopes heading into Thursday morning’s official shakedown stage only to see their world upended when they lightly rolled on the third run.

“We’d had a great lead up to the event testing, the car was just fantastic, so good to drive. Then we’d set the second fastest WRC2 on our second pass at shakedown and with just three corners to go on our third run we dug into a rut and the thing tipped over,” Pedder explained.

“The shakedown was on an autocross stage, it was all cut up from the WRC cars and yeah we just hit that deep rut a little too quickly on turn in and up and over it went.”

With limited time between the shakedown and the opening Super Special Stage the AutoTek crew swung into action and had the Skoda beaten back into shape including panel and windscreen replacement.

Under a setting sun Pedder then blasted into the 3.36km Lousada stage, clocking the equal eighth-fastest time amongst the ultra competitive WRC2 runners.

With Pedder and Moscatt facing another strong WRC2 field in 2016, the Victorian driver is expecting the heat to be on from the very first corner of the opening stage on Friday.

“The top three guys – Elfyn Evans, Pontus Tidemand and Teemu Suninen – are all seriously quick. If we can set a good top-five pace consistently then we’ll definitely be in a position to snatch a podium spot if one of them falters. That’s our game plan,” Pedder said.

Friday’s leg comprises eight stages in total, including two passes each over the 27.44km Ponte de Lima, a stage Pedder didn’t contest last year.

“Unfortunately last year the stage was cancelled due to spectator numbers, so we just transported through. The other two stages though we did compete on, so I’m excited to have another go at them this time around.”

The day’s other stages are the 18.03km Caminha, the 18.70km Viana do Castelo and two blasts around the 1.85km street stage in the town of Porto.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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