Three New Cars Add Spice to Malaysian Rally
APRC.TV | 11 AUGUST 2017
the title fight the most exciting for years the third round of
the 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) will really
heat up this weekend as the competitors¡¯ line-up for Malaysia¡¯s
International Rally of Johor, an event known for its extreme weather,
heat and humidity.
reigning champion Gaurav Gill won the opening round in New Zealand
with MRF team-mate Ole Christian Veiby finishing second, the Norwegian
fought back with a victory at Rally Canberra in Australia. In
the championship standings Veiby is now leading, but just two
points ahead of Gill.
he has no experience of the Malaysian conditions Veiby may have
a slight edge, fresh from the intense competition of the WRC he
will also have the use of a near new Skoda R5 that was delivered
to the MRF Racetorque prior to the event.
Gill at your peril though as for a start the heat in Malaysia
is similar to his home in Delhi India, while the 35-year-old and
last year¡¯s winner has vast experience of the narrow ditch-lined
plantation tracks. It¡¯s going to be an interesting battle.
while the MRF drivers lead the points race, Finland¡¯s Jari Ketomaa
and Robert Blomberg from Sweden are starting to threaten the Skodas
as the MPart Mitsubishi engineers find more speed and performance
from their AP4 Mirages. The team and Ketomaa started their APRC
campaign in Malaysia last year, so with plenty of data and experience
they will hopefully be on or near the pace of the R5 Skodas.
third car was sent from MPart¡¯s base in Sweden to Malaysia for
experienced APRC Indian driver Sanjay Takale, however its journey
was severely delayed and the race is on to prepare the Mitsubishi
for the start. With plans to compete in Japan and his home event
in India, Takale may end up using International Rally of Johor
to sort and learn his new car.
Cusco Racing makes a welcome return to the APRC with New Zealander
Mike Young in a Group N Subaru Impreza. His Japanese team-mate
Yuya Sumiyama was entered in a similar car but at the last minute
a deal was done by the team to buy the MRF Skoda that Veiby used
for the Pacific rounds.
was an excited buzz around the team at pre-rally testing with
Sumiyama quickly on the pace of the Skoda¡¯s and Mitsubishi. Given
his experience of the Malaysian conditions and third overall here
last year in a Group N car ¡®Sumi¡¯ may well spring a surprise.
to the line-up of drivers from India is PG Abilash who will drive
a Group N Subaru Impreza, a car that featured in the 2009 Malaysian
Rally when it was driven by Australian Cody Crocker who went on
to become the APRC champion that year.
Gill and Veiby running MRF Tyres, the Mitsubishi¡¯s of Ketomaa,
Bloomberg and Takale on Michelins, Young supported by Dunlop Japan
and Sumiyama using Yokohama tyres, the battle of the tyre brands
will add a further element of interest to the event.
the best car and tyres will come to nothing though if you can¡¯t
handle the heat and humidity of the Malaysian plantations. When
temperatures inside the cars often exceed 50Cs it¡¯s the one event
where a cool-suit (ice cooled water pumped through a special shirt
warn under driver¡¯s overalls) and plenty of water and mineral
drinks is essential to beat dehydration.
a super special stage gets the rally underway on Friday evening,
the International Rally of Johor will see competitors tackle seven
stages over 158 kilometres on Saturday. The longest stage of the
day is the 31.67km Tai Tak - Pipeline stage, that will be run
Sunday, a further six stages will face competitors, over a competitive
distance of 76.24 kilometres.
hot and humid conditions expected, and the high chance of torrential
rain, the event will be a real test of man, machine and tyres
- something all the drivers and teams relish.