Cody won the Australian Group N Championship four years in succession from 1998 to 2001. He has won the Australian Rally Championship outright three times in succession from 2003-05. He has won the Asia-Pacific Championship three times in succession from 2006-08.
Most of those championship wins was complete and utter domination, on a scale similar to Loeb's current domination in the WRC. No-one, even in equal machinery could match him, catch him or beat him.
I think his chances of driving a WR car are just about gone, but I believe he could win the PWRC, he just needs some practice driving on snow and tarmac. Tarmac rallies shouldn't be a problem, but practice on snow, and indeed raising the finances to compete considering the current global financial situation could be more of a challenge.
While photographing shakedown in Malaysia I was trying to figure out why I like his driving style so much. There's something there that no-one else has. It's tidy and quick, but with just enough flick to make it exciting. No-one else has the same pace and consistency through the corners.
But with that said. Mark was down by seven minutes or what-ever on overall. BUT, Mark's approach for the rally was not to come at a decent place overall - It was a stage by stage approach to secure PSD points. So where it was extremely rough, and I mean some of those stages were horrible! he would back off to make sure he didn't break the car and could continue to score points.
It just so happened that Mark Tapper ended up third overall. And he beat out many more regular APRC drivers!
So yeah, no knocking the NZ PSD!
Taking motor-sport, and flicking the thing sideways.
At the same time though, is it really good for Mark to be backing off. Yes he got through the rally to get the WRC drives, but he isn't gonna be able to back off in PWRC. Its similar to the state of the WRC about 3 years ago with Atko, why let him sit back and crawl when he can push, learn more about himself and the car, perhaps crash, perhaps break something but he will still get more out of it. I honestly think that Haydon Paddon would have been the better choice out of the New Zealanders but there is another 4 just as fast Australians by the name of Cody Crocker, Dean Herridge, Scott Pedder and Eli Evans, infact Brendan Reeves is another.
I'm hoping that Cody enters Rally Australia next year. Just imagine the line up. All the regular PWRC drivers, plus a couple of super quick kiwis, some crazy Aussies some of which were listed above by Mitch, and perhaps the Corolla S2000 gang, if Neal gets them homolgated in time.
In my opinion, Hayden needed the set-back. He's only just won the national championship - and he hasn't really had to face any defeat up to this point.
If you knew Tapper's history, the you would know that he won the fiesta trophy in NZ last year, has been close to the national championship a couple of times, has been top kiwi in Rally New Zealand and many other things. But has had major set-backs, many of which haven't been his fault.
To really appreciate the opportunity and grab it with both hands, I think you need to have had those set-backs, to make it all so much sweeter.
Tapper also does have the same pace as Evans and Paddon. It was Evans, Paddon and Gill on the first couple of stages that got the points, then after Paddon's off on the third stage Evans and Tapper traded wins for the rest of the day. It was incredibly tight - showing BOTH of the driver's pace. Evans went off on SS10 (2nd stage of Day Two) and Mark drove to the finish - Paddon had re-joined and the two kiwis traded stage wins for the rest of the day.
When I caught up with Eli later on after the press conference he said the following:
“We had a good run in the morning and we were confident with our tyre choice but on Stage Ten it was a bit greasy under the trees and we slid wide into tree,” Evans said after the event, “credit to Mark [Tapper] and Jeff [Judd], their pace made us push harder and that’s where the mistake happened.”
- from my release
Tapper just knew how and when to use it. That doesn't show slowness or lazyness to me, it shows maturity.
And trust me, he will not be sitting back in the WRC next year. He will be giving it everything.
EDIT: I agree with you all about the likes of Crocker, Herridge and Pedder. But don't mess with me on PSD matters. Cause I will get extremely pissy and I'm sure you won't want to kick me off for a while.
....but the competition wasnt all about speed. There were so many areas at the Pirelli comp.
Probably Cody will be the guy who dont never gets a WRC ride. Its just a shame but when you look how many years hes been there maybe it was a good decision to give someone else an opportunity. Also I dont see PCWRC as a huge thing at the moment or for me it just hasnt been that. Example the drivers there have already had their days or then them "I just wanna be part of WRC guys". Until the manufacturers of S2000´s move to PCWRC I dont see anything special on Impreza vs Lancer! Even JWRC has gone down in years but atleast there are still some young drivers and yeah them makes to WRC way more easily than for PCWRC. Its a bit different case if you win at JWRC than at PCWRC or atleast Ill see it that way.
What comes to results of these guys yeah I dont know them too well but we should look more the consistency than just single stages or rallyes. Example there are a some stories from the past when someone has surprisingly beaten the WRC driver at his own home roads and then hes got a place to show what hes got but when the roads hasnt been so famous to him,hes then failed to show any kind of speed.
But good luck to Pirelli star driver. I think its a good program for young drivers.