APRC Round 1 – Day 2 Afternoon Session And Wrap Up

Finally Racerevo will wrap things up on last week’s APRC coverage as we pay tribute to the winner of the 10th Malaysia Rally and Asia Pacific Rally Championship Round 1 at Kota Tinggi, Johor, Katsu Taguchi. Afternoon session of the second day saw many drivers paced themselves to the finish line, knowing the twisty and narrow course of Tai Tak Plantation plus the treacherous conditions had claimed many retirements. Continue reading as we wrap up our coverage from the action packed weekend and what the drivers have to say about this rally event.

Taguchi continues to increase his overall lead in the last 4 stages of the Malaysian Rally, albeit little by little over his team partner Gaurav Gill. By the end of the day his lead was 1 minute and 24 seconds, comfortable enough for the 1999 APRC winner to be crowned champion of Malaysian Rally 2010.

Gill finished 2nd best even though they both won the same amount of stage win, totalling 5 each. He will rue his missed chances, as the result might had been different had he not picked up a brake problem when he was leading the race on Saturday.

Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia continues his steady progress in the rallying world with a 3rd place finish. Along the way he managed to win a stage, being the fastest in stage 13. This will undoubtedly boost his confidence for the upcoming Rally of Hokkaido in Japan.

Unlucky can be the word to describe the participation of PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team’s Chris Atkinson. He suffered a mysterious electrical problem that the team said came out of nowhere twice. The first time it occurred is when he was on the first stage on the first day that made him play catch up for the rest of the rally, and it resurfaced for the second time on stage 14, derailing any hopes for at least a podium finish.

Atkinson’s teammate Alister McRae did not even finish the rally due to a broken engine. Both of them were the early favorites to win this rally, but mechanical setbacks relegated them out of the contention. At the moment the Satria Neo S2000 looked very fast but hampered by reliability problem, an issue that need to be addressed if they want to have significant progress in this year’s APRC.

Debutant Rafiq Udhaya can be proud of finishing 4th overall in his first APRC rally, ahead of other more illustrious name like Atkinson, McRae and Karamjit Singh. Although it is too early to judge, just maybe Malaysia would have a new rally speedster to follow the footstep of the legendary ‘Flying Sikh’, Karamjit Singh.

Meanwhile Singh’s 8-year old Mitsubishi Evo VIII caused endless problems throughout this event, preventing him from having a go at the race leaders. Even though had to contend with limited time on the track, he showed everyone that he is still one of Asia’s best with superb control and car handling, which put many young drivers to shame. Hopefully his new Mitsubishi Evo X will be ready in time for him to make amends in the remaining races this year.

Official Final Classification for MR10:

1. Katsu Taguchi MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 03:19:07.7
2. Gaurav Gill MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +01:24.1
3. Rifat Sungkar PERTAMINA Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX +26:58.6
4. Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya MRU Motorsports Subaru Impreza WRX +29:22.5
5. Chris Atkinson PROTON R3 Malaysia Proton Satria Neo S2000 +46.32.7
DNF. Alister McRae PROTON R3 Malaysia Proton Satria Neo S2000 SS11 (Engine Failure)
DNF. Karamjit Singh GSR Pennzoil Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII SS1 (Broken Diff) / S13 (Steering Problem)
DNF. Hiroshi Yanagisawa Cusco Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X SS12 (Over Time Limit)
DNF. Yuya Sumiyama Cusco Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X SS2 (Crash into ditch)
DNF. Tomohide Hasegawa Hasepro World Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII SS7 (Broken Diff)

Official Final Classification for APRC Round 1:

1. Katsu Taguchi MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 03:19:07.7
2. Gaurav Gill MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +01:24.1
3. Rifat Sungkar PERTAMINA Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX +26:58.6
4. Chris Atkinson PROTON R3 Malaysia Proton Satria Neo S2000 +46.32.7
DNF. Alister McRae PROTON R3 Malaysia Proton Satria Neo S2000 SS11 (Engine Failure)
DNF. Karamjit Singh GSR Pennzoil Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII SS1 (Broken Diff) / S13 (Steering Problem)
DNF. Hiroshi Yanagisawa Cusco Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X SS12 (Over Time Limit)

Katsu Taguchi : “Well, it was a good week for us in the end. I had some problems in the morning today as it rained suddenly and it became very slippery. But by the 11th stage, we knew we were in line for victory and so we could afford to take it easy. But it was still difficult.”

Gaurav Gill : “It couldn’t get better than this for Team MRF. It is the first time we have won in Malaysia which is the most difficult round in the APRC season. The Malaysian Rally is the most demanding of all rounds of the APRC.

I am very happy with my second place, something which was doubtful due to the brake overheating problem I had on Saturday. It is the best possible result for us and I’m very happy for the team and for Katsu as well.”

Chris Atkinson : “I can’t tell you how good it is to be back in a rally car again! And what a rally car! The Satria is amazing, a real driver’s car. Shakedown was good for us, it started dry and then poured with rain, so we got a good idea of what the car was going to do in both conditions.

This event was about getting a result for PROTON, once we’d lost our chance of winning, so I was driving with that in the back of my mind. We had an electrical problem on the first stage which was a bit of a blow, but we were bang on it for the next one.

The conditions were hard going on this event. I remember doing the Jordan Rally at 45 degrees and thinking that was tough, but this was much harder than that. The good thing about the Satria is that you really have to work at it to get the best out of it, which is fantastic, but maybe not quite so fantastic when it’s so hot and humid in the car! The iced towels at the end of each stage have never felt so good!

There’s definitely more to come from me and the PROTON, but I’m massively encouraged at the start we’ve made in Malaysia. Okay, the result isn’t what we wanted, but I’m rallying again and soon we’ll be winning again.

One more thing, I want to say a big thank you to Chris Mellors and the guys at MEM for the work they did, the car was awesome, and to everybody at PROTON. There was a real buzz about the factory in Malaysia and it’s going to be a special feeling for us all when we turn this potential into rally wins.”

Alister McRae : “I don’t think I have ever seen so much enthusiasm for a rally programme as I saw in Malaysia in the run up to last week’s event. It was incredible. There was so much support from the PROTON factory, the Malaysian government and all the people out there. It was a genuine honour to be driving the car on PROTON’s home event.

And even better, we were setting the pace and leading the rally. I really thought we were heading for that dream result; PROTON and the MEM team deserved to win the Malaysian Rally. The car was sensational, a real credit to all the boys at MEM who have worked tirelessly through the winter to make the Satria Neo S2000 the quickest car in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

We had a small problem with the fan on the engine yesterday [Saturday], but it’s testament to the engine that, even in the harshest and hottest conditions I’ve ever competed in, this engine just kept on running. Maybe the problem we had on the third stage today [Sunday] was related to that.

The conditions really were that tough. I’m a Scot, so I’m used to torrential rain – but it’s usually 35 degrees cooler when it’s raining where I come from! There are so many positives to take away from Malaysia, it’s just made me more excited about the season to come. The APRC title is there for us to win and we’ll be back on track in Japan next month.”

The next round of APRC will be contested at Rally of Hokkaido, Japan on 22nd-23rd May

The 2010 APRC calendar :

Round 1 : 24th-25th April – Malaysian Rally
www.malaysianrally.com
Round 2 : 22nd-23rd May – Rally of Hokkaido, Japan
www.rally-hokkaido.com
Round 3 : 3rd-4th July – International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand
www.rallywhangarei.co.nz
Round 4 : 31st July-1st August – Rally Queensland, Australia
www.rallyqueensland.com.au
Round 5 : 28th-29th August – Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonia
www.rallye-nc.net
Round 6 : 25th-26th September – Rally Indonesia
www.rallyindonesia.com
Round 7 : 6th-7th November – China Rally
www.autosports.org.cn

Photo: Nazim Idris
Editorial : Nazim Idris / APRC Driver Interview

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