APRC Opens Door to More Cars in 2014

Rally Thailand 2013 - Mike Young Toyota VitzExciting new rules first proposed by the APRC Working Group and now approved by the FIA will allow a greater range of cars to compete in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Any car that complies with the JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) RJ and CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport Ltd) G2 regulations is eligible to compete in the APRC without the need for detailed homologation documents.

The JAF RJ rules allow a wide range of production cars to be used with minimal modifications, whereas the CAMS G2 regulations will allow two-wheel drive cars to be built similar to FIA R3 specifications, without having to go through an extensive homologation process.

Another enhancement to the APRC for 2014 is a new Teams Award option where, if a team nominates to enter a car in 6 APRC events they can, have a different driver/co-driver for events – and each driver/co-driver will score points in the Championship.

Rally Queensland 2013 - Brendan Reeves MazdaPeter Macneall from APRC Executive said “This is good news for the championship, especially opening up the range of competition cars that can compete. The JAF RJ cars are very standard, less than Group N, however it means cars like the Toyota 86 & Subaru BRZ are eligible as well as models from Mazda, Nissan and Suzuki. We have been working with the FIA on this for the past 12 months and they have now recognised that the Regional Championships need more freedoms in order to attract competitors”.

“For competitors who want cars with more development and power the CAMS G2 regulations will allow teams to build cars equivalent to FIA R3. An example could be the Toyota Yaris (Vitz) that won the APRC 2WD category in 2013 could now be built into a fully-fledged R3 equivalent”.

“The changes to the Team Award, allows a team to run a second or third car for customer drivers. There are many competitors who want to compete in APRC events, but not the full season. This way they can compete in part of the championship and still score some drivers points”, said Macneall.

Cars already approved for any other FIA Regional Championship will remain eligible for the APRC. This may include vehicles such as the maxi cars already locally homologated in Argentina and the VW Polo R2 from South Africa.

More modified cars such as the Maxi cars currently being built in New Zealand will be still be required to go through the homologation process with their National Sport Association.

The opening round in 2014 is the Rally Whangarei, New Zealand 12-13 April, followed by seven rounds in seven countries including New Caledonia, Australia, Indian, Malaysia, Japan, China and Thailand.

For full details on the new regulations, please see the FIA Regional Rally Sporting Regs.

In all cases the cars will need to meet the FIA Safety requirements.

Further information: www.fiaaprc.com and www.aprc.tv
CAMS Group G 2014 Regs (DRAFT ONLY): CAMS Draft Rally 17 Group G 2014 v3a
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APRCtv
Twitter: https://twitter.com/APRCtv

Young Wins Asia Cup

Thailand 2013 - Young on SS13New Zealanders Mike Young and Malcolm Read are the 2013 Asia Cup champions, after the kiwi pair drove their Cusco Toyota Vitz to victory on the very tough Thailand Rally.

It was a rally of absolute attrition – first Thailand’s Chaiyan Longton retired with engine failure on stage one. Then Asia Cup points leader Shuhei Muta from Japan retired on the second stage with engine failure in his Subaru.

Young came close to retirement on this stage too, when a rock wedged itself in one the Toyota’s rear wheels. Crossing the finish-line on three wheels, co-driver Read did road-side repairs to keep them in the event.

Thailand 2013 - Sanjay TakaleOn day 2 Yuya Sumiyma held a big lead and it was looking like he would be Asia Cup champion for a second year, when on stage 8 he too retired , clutch failure ending the Japanese drivers event. On the same stage fellow Japanese driver Tomohide Hasegawa in a Mitsubishi, retired with fuel pump problems.

Indian driver Sanjay Takale then held the APRC lead, only to retire on the very last test, stage 13 with gearbox issues.

With Sumiyama and Takale out of the event, APRC victory went to third placed Young, capping off a hugely successful year in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship for the twenty year-old New Zealander with three international titles – the FIA Junior Cup, the FIA two-wheel drive Cup and finally the FIA Asia Cup.

Thailand 2013 - Sumiyma - Leg 1“Its unbelievable, at the start of this week I never even thought about being Asia Cup champion but its been such a crazy event, up and down and we’ve ended up on top. The events so tough on the cars, its hot, dusty and rough, its all about who makes it to the finish – thanks to Cusco, Toyota and Dunlop for making it happen”, said Young at final service.

Thailand Rally is the final APRC event for 2013, with the series kicking off again in 2014 with New Zealand’s Rally Whangarei in April.

Thailand Title Decider

Cusco Service at Rally Thailand 2013This weekend is Thailand Rally – Kings Cup, the final round of the APRC’s Asia Cup.

Thailand is in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment, however there is no sign of the unrest taking place in Bangkok and as its the Kings birthday this weekend those troubles seemed to have slowed for the moment. Thailand Rally is based at Saha Farms complex near Lophuri, 140 kilometres north-east of Bangkok.

After a win in Malaysia and 2nd place points in Hokkaido, Japanese driver Shuhei Muta in a Group N Subaru Impreza leads the Asia Cup by 22 points, from his Cusco team-mates Yuya Sumiyama and Michael Young – equal second on 46 points.

Last year’s Asia Cup winner Sumiyama, also driving a Subaru had a poor start to his 2013 campaign with engine failure in Malaysia, but a win in Hokkaido has put him back in with a chance to retain the title. But even if he wins outright, Sumiyama can only take the title if Muta has a DNF or finishes lower than 5th place.

With two solid finishes, New Zealander Michael Young has put himself in contention for the cup title, although given he’s driving a 1600cc front-drive Toyota Vitz he’s going to have to rely on both his team-mates having problems in their turbo 4WD cars. “My main aim here is to make it a Cusco 1-2-3 in the Asia Cup, but to do that I have to stay ahead of Hasegawa too”.

Mike Young Testing at Rally Thailand 2013Another to have finished each of the two events so far, Tomohide Hasegawa driving the Hasepro Mitsubishi Evo 10 is fourth with 38 points.

Other contenders include India’s Sanjay Takale (23 points) driving an MRU prepared Subaru Impreza . Takale had a DNF in Malaysia and scored all his points in Japan where he also wrapped up the Production Cup. Thailand’s Chaiyan Longton who had a stand-out performance in Malaysia with third overall, didn’t compete in Japan but starts his home event with 25 points.
From Sri Lanka comes Dinesh Deheragoda driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, new to the series but hoping to get some experience for a 2014 APRC campaign.

After two days of recce the drivers report the roads in good condition, narrow, rough in parts and as there’s been no rain for weeks, there is lots of dust.

A 24 kilometre all tarmac stage on Day 2 will add to the mix of surfaces and tyre strategy. Shakedown and the official start is today (Friday), followed by two days of competition over 230 kilometres.

Story and photos by Brian Young – www.apsm.tv

Triple Victory for MRF Skoda

Gill and Lappi Shake HandsIndian star Gaurav Gill has described winning the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship* as an “amazing feeling” after he secured the coveted title spoils with second place on China Rally Longyou today (Sunday).

Driving for Team MRF ŠKODA alongside navigator Glenn Macneall, Gill finished runner-up to team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm in his Fabia Super 2000. He could have challenged for victory had he not lost approximately three minutes stopping to change a puncture on stage six.

Gill’s title triumph is the second in a row for the Race Torque Engineering-run Team MRF operation following Chris Atkinson’s success in 2012. ŠKODA has successfully defended its APRC Manufacturers’ crown, while Team MRF ŠKODA is the winner of the APRC Teams’ award ahead of Cusco Racing of Japan.

Esapekka Lappi SS5“We’re really happy,” said ŠKODA Motorsport’s Pavel Hortek. “We fulfilled what we planned to do at the beginning of the season, to win again all the championships in both categories. My thanks to the winning crew Garav Gill and Glenn Macneall. This is very important for them, especially for Gaurav who deserves very much to finally win the APRC after trying for so many years.”

Gill, 31, has enjoyed a hugely successful APRC season in 2013 with victories in New Caledonia and Japan and second-place finishes in New Zealand and China. Meanwhile, Lappi’s first place in China marked his third victory of 2013. However, non-scores in New Caledonia, Malaysia and Japan ruled him out of the title fight, although his win in China means he finishes runner-up to Gill in the final standings.

India’s Sanjay Takale, the APRC Production Cup champion, finishes third in the final table for Subaru with New Zealander Michael Young claiming an impressive fourth overall. Young is also the winner of the APRC Junior Cup driving a Toyota Vitz.

Esapekka Lappi SS7China Rally Longyou once again lived up to its reputation as one of the most challenging events on the APRC calendar. Based in the Zhejiang province in eastern China, 400 kilometres from Shanghai, the stages use a mixture of gravel and concrete roads. But with rain falling, drivers reported the concrete sections were extremely slippery. They also faced two rock-strewn mountain stages, while brake problems and a spin for Lappi on Saturday morning added to the drama.

FIA APRC RESULTS (after 13 special stages, 230.92 kilometres):
1 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 3h01m46.9s
2 Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +5m37.4s

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS (after 6/6 rounds):

Gaurav Gill, 145.5
Esapekka Lappi, 117
Sanjay Takle, 104
Michael Young, 92
Hiroshi Asakura , 53

APRC Drivers’ champion: Gaurav Gill
APRC Co-drivers’ champion: Glenn Macneall
APRC Manufacturers’ champion: ŠKODA
APRC Teams’ champion: Team MRF ŠKODA
APRC Production Cup champion: Sanjay Takale
APRC Junior Cup champion: Michael Young
APRC 2WD champion: Michael Young

Gaurav Gill – 2013 Champion

Skoda Team 2013
Gaurav Gill and Glen Macneall are the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally Champions after finishing Day 1 of China Rally and taking an unbeatable lead in the championship standings.

“This is definitely the highlight of my career so far, we’ve come close on several other occasions and this year wasn’t easy either. I have to thank the team, my co-driver Glenn (Macneall), Skoda and a big thank you to MRF tyres too as they’ve stuck with me all these years and so its nice to reward them and my country”.

Gill had a trouble-free day, except for a puncture on the afternoon loop. “We stopped and changed it loosing 2-3 minutes, but the main thing is to get it the car back here”.

Gill’s team-mate Esapekka Lappi from Finland leads the event by 4 minutes. There’s still one day to go, before the finish when the MRF Skoda team can celebrate on the APRC podium, the manufacturers and team prize.

Michael Young, from New Zealand, was the only driver in with a shout of preventing Gill from taking the title, despite his front-wheel-drive Toyota Vitz giving away a stack of performance to Gill’s pacesetting Skoda Fabia Super 2000. But Young’s non-appearance means Indian driver Gill cannot be caught in the championship charge.

Team MRF: Almost There

Rally China 2013 Gaurav GillTeam MRF head into the this weekend’s China Rally Longyou perfectly placed to win all three Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) titles.

Indian driver, Gaurav Gill, currently holds a 13.5 point Drivers’ title lead in his Skoda Fabia S2000, with Skoda and Team MRF are also on track to win the Manufacturers and Teams’ Cup awards respectively.

Gill’s Finnish team-mate, Esapekka Lappi, has endured bad luck in recent rounds of the APRC, but a strong finish in China should see him move up to second in the championship race.

As they were in previous years, the China Rally Longyou’s shakedown stage and stage one are all held at the Shiyuan Motorsports Complex, while the special stages for Legs 1 and 2 are run through bamboo forests.

“It’s a really tricky event, because about 55 per cent of the rally’s stages are run on concrete,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said.

“The stages tend to wind their way up mountains with twisty roads and plenty of hairpins, then they open up on the downhill sections on the other side.

Rally China 2013 Gaurav Gill“They can be quite rough and rutted as well, so the cars need to be strong enough to take that.”

The Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabias have been the cars to beat in this year’s APRC, with Gill and Lappi winning four of the five events held so far.

Gill, with Australian co-driver, Glenn Macneall, only has to finish the rally to secure his first APRC title, while Lappi starts the rally in great form, having finished second in the S2000 category at the recent Sanremo Rally in Italy.

“The championships are there for the taking, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves and need to ensure we get both cars to the finish,” Heenan added.

“Tyre wear will be a critical factor over the event’s 13 stages, with the gravel tyres sure to take a pounding on the concrete sections.

“However, we’ve planned well for the final round of this year’s championship, and feel confident that we’ll be celebrating three titles on Sunday evening.”

Weather conditions for the event are expected to be fine and mild, with temperatures in the 15 to 23 degree range.

Neither of the Team MRF drivers have won the event before, with this being Lappi’s first visit to the rally.

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS after 5 of 6 rounds: 

Overall drivers:
1 Gaurav Gill 117.5;
2 Sanjay Takale 104;
3 Michael Young 92;
4 Esapekka Lappi 78;
5 Hiroshi Asakura 53

1 ŠKODA 158.5;
2 Subaru 145;
3 Mitsubishi 104.5;
4 Toyota 55;
5 PROTON 29;
6 Suzuki 24

Photos courtesy of: APSM TV (Asia Pacific Sports Media and TV)