McRae’s Round, Atko’s Title

Photo courtesy www.apsm.tvAlister McRae has won China Rally for a third time, after a Day 1 battle with Team MRF Gaurav Gill ended when the Indian driver’s Skoda suffered terminal engine failure on the first stage of Day 2.

Its the third event event in row where Gill has led but mechanical problems have intervened. Team MRF did have reason to celebrate though with Chris Atkinson coming home second and clinching the 2012 APRC Drivers title. Team MRF also won the teams and manufacturers award for Skoda.

Japans’ Yuya Sumiyama was 4th overall and won the Asia Cup for the second time, although the Cusco driver did have some luck, an off road excursion and a roll-over on Day 1 nearly ended his event.

Photo courtesy www.apsm.tvNew Zealander Brian Green finished 5th of the APRC competitors, the only driver to finish all six rounds of the series.

Proton were first and third on the overall podium with Juha Salo bringing his S2000 Satria home, while behind the Malaysian manufacturer totally dominated the two-wheel drive class with Karamjit Singh winning the class in China and the two-wheel drive cup for the second time.

Singh’s young team-mates Akira Bamba and Kenneth Koh made it a 1-2-3 result for the R3 Proton team, while Dream’s Team India driver Sanjay Takle in yet another Proton won the A6 class in.

China Rally – Final APRC Results

1. Alister McRae / Bill Hayes, Proton Satria Neo, 3h02m33.1s
2. Chris Atkinson / Stephane Prevot, Skoda Fabia, +1m46.5s
3. Juha Salo / Marko Salminen, Proton Satria Neo, +6m58.6s
4. Yuya Sumiyama / Naoki Kase, Subaru Impreza, +9m30.9s
5. Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen, Subaru Impreza, +12m32.9s

Photos and story by Brian Young –

Sumiyama Storms Home

Yuya Sumiyama’s has made the most of others misfortunes to take his first APRC win at his home event.

Day one of Japan’s Rally Hokkaido was dominated by Indian driver Gaurav Gill driving an MRF Tyres Skoda S2000. Gill briefly lost the lead to Alister McRae after incurring a 10 second penalty for leaving the first service one minute late, however the MRF driver soon got that back and then extended the lead with a big push on Stage 5.

Proton driver Alister McRae tried his best to stay in touch with the MRF Skoda, but was forced to back off in the afternoon when the S2000 engine started to get hot. The Scotsmen’s challenge and any hope of retaining his championship ended early on Day 2 when the engine finally cried enough.

That left Gill with a seemingly easy run to victory, but then he too suffered mechanical problems, the Skoda’s clutch failing at the start of stage SS15.

Finlands Juha Salo left the start thinking he was now in the lead but his run in first place only lasted two kilometres before the Proton driver ripped off a wheel on a hidden concrete culvert.

With the three very fast S2000 cars out of the event, it was Yuya Sumiyama’s turn to take the lead in his Group N Cusco Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. The Japanese driver held onto to the top spot to the finish, winning the APRC category and taking maximum points in his bid to win back the Asia Cup.

New Caledonian driver Daniel Palau was second in APRC and the Asia Cup, while amazingly Karamjit Singh was third in his Proton Satria also winning the two-wheel drive category.

Akira Bamba clinched his second Junior Cup title, after early leader Mike Young crashed off in SS6.Kenneth Koh was second in the Junior Title points, his Proton Satria still sporting the scratches from a shakedown roll-over.

The Asia Pacific championship now heads to China for the final round where New Zealander Brian Green now second overall in the drivers points has an outside chance of taking the title, if the current leader Chris Atkinson fails to finish.

Final Results – APRC 2012 – Rally Hokkaido

1. T.Arai / D.Moscatt, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2:09:54.5
2. Y.Sumiyama / N.Kase, Cusco Mitsubishi Evo X, +2:43.5
3. S.Taguchi / S.Hirota, Mitsubishi Evo IX, +8:16.7
4. A.Masamura / A.Nakagawa, Mitsubishi Evo X, +9:29.8
5. G.Nagayoshi / H.Baba, Mitsubishi Evo IX, +10:17.1
9. D.Palau / T.Song, Subaru Impreza WRX, +15:13.6
12. K.Singh / V.Ponnusamy, Cusco Proton R3 Satria Neo, +20:33.8

Story and photos courtesy of APSM.TV and M.Kotake.

Proton Back On Top

Photo courtesy of APSM.TVAlister McRae has won a dramatic Malaysian Rally in Proton Satria S2000, where the top spot changed four times.

Current APRC points leader Chris Atkinson took the initial lead but part way through stage 3 his MRF Skoda Fabia burst a water-pipe spraying hot cooling fluid through the cabin. Atkinson and co-driver Stephan Prevot fixed the problem in the stage but lost over 22 minutes in the process, dropping to 10th place.

Proton’s PG Andersson took over the lead and at the end of day 1 was 1 and 22 seconds in front of Indian driver Gaurav Gill. Gill had lost over a minute on the second stage, with an off-road excursion and was fighting his way back up the leader board.

Photo courtesy of APSM.TVOn the first stage of day 2, Gill’s event ended in a cloud of steam when grass caught in the radiator and the Skoda over-heated.

On the next stage rally leader PG Andersson retired with an electrical problem in his Proton, allowing team-mate Alister McRae to over the top spot and win the event.

Atkinson was fighting his way back up through the field , eventually finishing in third place.

The Australian was unable to reel in Cusco driver Yayu Sumiyama who finally finished a Malaysian Rally, after trying three times before.

Photo courtesy of APSM.TVBrian Green was 4th and by finishing every event this year, continues to hold 3rd place on the points table with 71, while McRae moves into second with 81 points. Atkinson still has a massive lead on the rest of the drivers with 126 points.

Malaysian rally star Karamjit Singh was 5th overall and winner of the two-wheel drive category in a Proton Satria 1.6.

Singh’s team-mate Akira Bamba takes over the lead in the Junior Cup after earlier points leader Michael Young crashed into a Palm Oil tree in the slippery conditions on Day 1.

Sanjay Takale in his Dream India Rally Team Proton, continued his 100% finish record in 7th place, while MRU Motorsport team-made Ivan Iskander from Indonesia was 8th.

After a difficult event Kenneth Koh was the only other finisher in the APRC category.

Final Results – APRC 2012 – Malaysia Rally
1. Alister McRae / Bill Hayes, Proton Satria Neo S2000, 02:57:31.5
2. Chris Atkinson / Stephane Prevot, Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, +00:25:25.1
3. Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +00:26:36.6
4. Karamjit Singh / Vivek Ponnusamy, Proton Satria Neo, +00:27:23.1

Story and photos: Brian Young – APRC.TV

Atko Grabs Home Win

Photo courtesy of APSM.TVChris Atkinson cruised to his first major victory on home soil and extended his lead in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship at the Brakes Direct International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast.

Starting with an overnight lead of almost two minutes, the 32-year-old driver for the Indian MRF team took a conservative approach in his Skoda Fabia S2000 on the final eight Special Stages, yet managed to double the margin to 3 minutes 57.9 seconds by the finish in the Mary Valley township of Imbil.

Scot Alister McRae scored a fighting second place for the Malaysian factory Proton team, hanging on with a misfiring engine to claim his first podium in the 2012 series. New Zealand veteran Brian Green took third place in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

On the back of a win in round one in New Zealand and second in the previous round in New Caledonia, Atkinson with Belgian co-driver Stefan Prevot wrapped up the three-round Pacific Cup competition and boosted his overall championship tally to 101 points heading into the second half of the season in Malaysia, Japan and China.

His Indian teammate Guarav Gill is second on 63 points after dominating today’s competition with seven stage wins out of eight.

Despite rising to the highest ranks of the World Rally Championship during four years as a Subaru factory driver, Atkinson waited a long time for today’s victory. “It’s one of the most special feelings to be an athlete and win your home event,” he said. “It’s been a perfect weekend. The car has been faultless and everything worked well. After the last two years when we were leading here and then had problems on the final day, it’s a bit of a relief to win. It was pretty tough out there on the roads but I wasn’t going to do anything silly and throw away a two-minute lead, so we took it carefully.”

Photo courtesy of APSM.TVWith the MRF drivers claiming 16 of the 19 Special Stages over 236 kilometres, a real challenge from defending champions Proton again failed to show although it was not for want of trying.

McRae won two stages and came close to matching the Skodas’ times on others, while teammate Per-Gunnar Andersson of Sweden took the opening stage yesterday. But both were dogged by minor mechanical problems that cost too much time to recover, although Andersson was able to fight from seventh yesterday to fourth today.

Gill too saw his podium chances slip away when a simple broken electrical wire stopped his car early yesterday.

New Zealander Michael Young scored his second FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship Junior Cup category win of the season, enjoying a tight tussle with young Japanese driver Akira Bamba throughout the two-day event.

Young and co-driver Tasmanian Daniel Willson went into the Queensland event leading the Junior Cup class following their class win in Whangarei early in April to give them an eleven point lead over Kenneth Koh, from Malaysia. However Koh was out of the Queensland rally with mechanical issues on stage five, leaving Young battling with Bamba. The Japanese driver managed to finish day one with a ten second margin over Young after Young’s two-wheel-drive Proton Satria Neo suffered some damage.

“It was a big battle with Akira all day Saturday and we’d had the Junior Cup lead virtually all day until the last couple of stages,” says Young. “We went out this morning (Sunday) determined to take the lead back and that’s what we did. We won the first 15.35 km stage by 20 seconds, giving us the lead and then we kept the lead all day to make this our second win from two events.”

Bamba won the two-wheel class (Young is not entered in this catergory) while coming home second was Sanjay Takle from India, now leading the championship fight for APRC two-wheel drive honours.

The next event in the 2012 APRC is the Malaysian Rally 13-15 July.

Gill Claims New Caledonia

The island of New Caledonia may be known as a pacific holiday destination, but for the drivers and teams in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship’s round 2 held on the island over the weekend this was no picnic.

Rally of New Caledonia proved to be one of the toughest and roughest in the six event series and only eight competitors made the finishline.

Initially the event was led by Proton’s Per Gunnar Andersson but the Swedish driver dropped time on Saturday morning with electrical problems caused by one of the many deep water-crossings. The Proton’s engine gradually lost more power through the day and team changed the head gasket at final service. Andersson set out on Sunday morning to at least get back on the podium, but his bid for points lasted only 6 kilometres before the engine stopped once again, this time with terminal damage.

Australian Chris Atkinson took over top spot in his MRF Skoda and drove at a blistering pace through the rough and very slippery southern red roads, to hold a lead of nearly two minutes on his team-mate Gaurav Gill. But the lead was to change again when Atkinson lost time when his Fabia stopped in the middle of a stage on the final morning. Again it seems the damage was caused by a water crossing.

Atkinson did get going again but only after Gill passed him in the stage and took over the lead. With the gap between them nearly 5 minutes and the next surviving competitor Brian Green over 10 minutes further back, there was no point in risking any further damage.

Gill and Atkinson drove the remaining stages in safe-mode to ensure an MRF One-two, “I’d really like to thank the team for this one, it was due to them we could keep going. Everyone had issues and I’m sorry for what happened to Chris but the main thing is that it’s still a one-two finish for MRF and the whole team can celebrate”, said a very happy Gill at the finish line.

In third spot was New Zealander Brian Green in his Mitsubishi Lancer, the kiwi also claiming top place in the New Caledonian championship. Fourth and top two-wheel drive competitor was French driver Emmanuel Guigou in a Renault R3.

Behind there was carnage. Last year’s APRC champion Alistair McRae went out on the first day after ripping off a wheel part-way through stage 2, while local driver Jean-Louis Leyruad retired his Citroen after a water-crossing. To further prove how difficult the event was only eight competitors completed the whole event.

Rally New Caledonia 2012 was an event where the mechanics and technicians really made the difference, keeping the cars going in impossible conditions. Sometimes working in thick mud and other times work in the blazing heat – its thanks to these guys that the drivers can then go out and push their cars to the limit.

The next in event in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship is the Rally of Queensland on May 25 – 27th.

Atko Claims Opener for MRF

Chris Atkinson has taken back-to-back victories at Brother International Rally of Whangarei with a 28.1 second winning margin over fellow Asia Pacific Rally Championship contender Per-Gunnar Andersson as the two-day event wrapped up.

Atkinson, an Australian, piloted a Skoda Fabia S2000 car in his and the car’s first event with Team MRF from India. Last year Atkinson won the event in a Proton Satria Neo S2000 car – the car now driven by Andersson.

Third overall and third APRC finisher was Atkinson’s team-mate Indian Gaurav Gill in a similar MRF-backed Skoda.

Of his overall and APRC victory, Atkinson said: “It’s been a great weekend. The team have been amazing. The car, the tyres, everything worked really well. It was always going to be tough being up against the factory Proton team. The MRF team came along with a brand new car and straight out of the box we were on the pace and were able to control the rally, which is great. I was just driving to beat PG; that is all I was worried about, the APRC points, and while we could have gone a bit faster in places but we were trying to judge our speed and not try doing anything we didn’t have to.

Swedish driver P-G Andersson has rallied on some of the roads used in this event when they were part of Rally New Zealand, but this was his first run in the Whangarei event. The Proton driver said: “Chris has done a great job today after being first on the road, to have the pace he has. We’ve been trying to catch up as much as we could but we couldn’t do it just by driving; he had to make a mistake, have a puncture or something else. We were trying to keep the pressure on and enjoy those roads best I could – it was great fun. There are some issues we have to clarify but we’ve moved forward with the car and I think we will be stronger for the next rally. But we have really enjoyed it.”

Karamjit Singh won the APRC two-wheel drive category driving a Proton Satria Neo even though the multiple rally champion was in some pain throughout the event after having surgery to his back only a week ago. “Really pleased to get maximum points as it wasn’t easy with the pain. It starts off our campaign in the best possible way” said Singh at the finish.

The Junior catergory was won by New Zealander Michael Young, even though the young Kiwi had a huge scare in the final stages. “We came over a crest in 4th gear, totally too fast for the next corner. We spun around and somehow we didn’t hit anything. We were so lucky!!” a relieved Young said at the finish. Second in the catergory was Kenneth Koh from Malaysia, both Juniors driving Proton Satria Neo 1.6’s.

2012 Brother International Rally of Whangarei
1 – Chris Atkinson/Stephene Prevot, Australia, Skoda Fabia S2000 (APRC)
2 – Per-Gunnar Andersson/Emil Axelsson, Sweden, Proton Satria Fabia S2000 (APRC), +28.1
3 – Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall, India, Skoda Fabia S2000 (APRC), +2:35.8
4 – Alister McRae/Bill Hayes, Great Britain, Proton Satria Neo (APRC), +3:37.6
5 – Matt Jansen/Jason Farmer, Christchurch, Subaru STI (NZRC), +4:47.7
6 – Emma Gilmour/Anthony McLoughlin, Dunedin, Subaru STI (NZRC), +5:34.0
7 – Kingsley Thompson/John Allen, Kerikeri, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO (NZRC) 10, +6:35.8
8 – Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen, Palmerston North, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10 (NZRC), +14:19.0
9 – Josh Marston/Patrick Malley, Christchurch, Ford Fiesta (NZRC), +18:10.4
10 – Jean-Louis Leyraud/Philippe Delrieu, New Caledonia, Citroen DS3, +19:07.7

Photos and story courtesy of