Atko Gets Hyundai Test Gig

hyundai-02-300Current Asia Pacific Rally Champion Chris Atkinson is the latest addition to Hyundai’ s test programmme.

First Juho Hanninen, then Bryan Bouffier and now Chris Atkinson: Hyundai’s test driver roster continues to swell with the addition of the ex-factory Subaru pilot. Atkinson, 33, has been a bit-part player on the world stage since Subaru’s withdrawal at the end of 2008 but gets the chance to support the main Hyundai testers Hanninen and Bouffier for the remainder of the year.

“This is such an exciting project and to be a part of Hyundai’s push back into the WRC by helping develop the i20 is a massive thing to be a part of,” said the Australian. “After visiting the Hyundai Motorsport factory three weeks ago, I am hugely impressed by the team’s commitment and achievements so far. I have a lot of experience of many different WRC cars and events, and I will utilise this knowledge to support the development of the 2014 i20 WRC car.”

Atkinson’s last outing in the world championship was on Rally Mexico in an Abu Dhabi-backed Citroen DS3 WRC. He had been in line to return to the squad on Rally Finland but lost out to Kris Meeke.

As well as the Citroen, Atkinson has experience of Ford’s Fiesta RS WRC and the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, while he’s sampled Proton’s Satria Neo S2000 and a Skoda Fabia S2000 in the past, making him an ideal candidate for the Hyundai job.

Hyundai Motorsport chief Michel Nandan said: “It is great to be able to integrate Chris into [the] Hyundai Motorsport testing line-up for this season and I am convinced he will bring a lot of valuable WRC experience. Chris will support the work of our main test drivers Juho and Bryan. With the combined expertise of all three test drivers, we will be able to benefit from thorough and comprehensive input at every test session.”

Story by Graham Lister – Maxrally.com


APRC Stronger with Wurth

WurthWurth, a global German company with interests in the automotive industry, has joined forces with the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) this year to ensure the competing crews have all the gear they need to finish the challenging championship.

Before this month’s International Rally of Queensland (12-14th July) got under way, Wurth delivered much needed products to the APRC competitors, which was warmly welcomed by team mechanics and drivers as Wurth products are known to withstand the brutal punishment rally cars endure, particularly here in Australia.

President of the APRC, Steven Kennedy, said it was great to have the backing of such a well-respected company for the APRC and he hopes the strong relationship between the two continues to flourish in the future.

“It is a major step forward for the APRC, and also for Wurth who will now be able to expand their markets throughout the Asia Pacific region. Both ourselves [APRC] and Wurth are excited about the involvement in the championship,” said Kennedy.

“The feedback I’ve already had from teams is fantastic. They’re all very happy with how Wurth’s products are performing out there on the stages.”

Wurth Australia’s CEO, Mr. Serge Oppedisano, said “rallying is the ideal stage to demonstrate the strength and durability of Würth’s product range. The need for high quality, performance orientated products are critical to the success of rallying.”

Team Manager for the APRC’s leading team Team MRF, Lane Heenan, says that the Wurth products are always the first choice for his team because their products are strong, reliable and can be purchased in any of the countries the APRC visits.

“We use Wurth products for everything, from lubricants to cleaners, to cable ties to strong paper towels for cleaning,” said Heenan.

“We can also get access to their products all over the place so it makes it incredibly easy from a logistical point of view.”

Heenan says his team can be using up to 20 different Wurth products at any given event and says he was pleased when Wurth joined forces with the APRC.

“It was good to hear they had come on board with the APRC. Their products are good for all of the teams here and it’s great to have a company involved that is interested in what we do, and related to what we do too.”

Wurth Australia were out at the International Rally of Queensland (12-14th July) all weekend, showing their support to the hundreds of fans and families that have come to see some action and offering advice to many of the competing crews.

Rallying is known as a family sport around the world and the majority of drivers thank their family, and “rally-family”, such as their mechanics, for their success and Wurth can relate to the importance of that family.

The Wurth Group, which operates in over 80 countries worldwide with a total of 64,000 employees, has been a family owned, operated and orientated company since its inception back in 1945, making the distinct connection between their company and the APRC and the importance of close relationships in achieving success.

Further information available at www.aprc.tv


Four to Tango for Knowles

RQ13-SimonKnowles-APSMtv-300While 12 people helped guide Esapekka Lappi to victory on the International Rally of Queensland last weekend (we know this because we’ve seen the photo), Simon Knowles relied on the support of three people to clinch the FIA Pacific Cup in true David versus Goliath style.

The Australian veteran trailed Lappi’s Team MRF Skoda colleague Gaurav Gill following the opening two rounds in New Zealand and New Caledonia but took full advantage of Gill’s exit in Australia to snatch the title spoils in a Mitsubishi Lancer co-driven by his wife Margot and worked on by a two-person team of mechanics.

“We’ve had a great weekend and to get the Pacific Cup is just incredible,” said Knowles. “We really feel for Gaurav but to finish first, first you must finish. Considering there is only four of us; myself, Margot and two service crew guys, we never expected this but we’re really happy. But even if we’d finished second, I will still feel as though we’d have won. We’re a four person team going up against the big boys.”

Knowles claimed the Pacific Cup by three and a half points from Gill, who retired in Queensland with a rear strut failure. Australian Matt van Tuinen finished third in the final standings despite a back injury – sustained in a crash in New Caledonia – ruling him out of competing on home soil.

Source: Richard Rogers – www.maxrally.com


Lappi Fights Back

Photo courtesy of apsm.tvFinland rally star, Esapekka Lappi, has won the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the International Rally of Queensland with a significant winning margin of over 18 minutes.

Lappi, who now leads the APRC Drivers Championship subject to organisers’ final approval, took full advantage of his fellow competitors’ misfortunes to drive his Skoda Fabia S2000 to the win.

“We had some confidence problems to start but found it [our confidence] yesterday afternoon,” said Lappi, “but the last two stages were horrible actually, narrow and very slippery. We had to drive very carefully.”

Photo courtesy of apsm.tv“This win means a lot and is really good for the championship. It’s sad our team-mate Gaurav [Gill] had some problems and had to retire but we certainly enjoyed the rally.”

Gaurav Gill, the only potential challenger to Lappi after Day 1, had to retire from the competition after a right rear strut broke in the morning loop of stages.

“It broke off in a straight piece of road!” said Gill, “I didn’t hit anything but maybe it had fractures in it from somewhere else. I’m really disappointed but we will fight back in Malaysia.”

Following Gill’s retirement, Japan’s Atsushi Masumura had moved up to second place where he stayed for most of the afternoon until a puncture in the last stage cost him his podium place. All Masumura had to say was, “we are very very sad.”

Photo courtesy of apsm.tvLocal husband and wife team, Simon and Margot Knowles were able to capitalise on Masumura’s misfortune and move up to second place in the APRC results, and more importantly, take the Pacific Cup Championship win, at their home event.

“We’ve had a great weekend and to get the Pacific Cup is just incredible. We really feel for Gaurav [Gill] but to finish first, first you must finish, apparently,” said Knowles.

“Considering there is only four of us; myself, Margot and two service crew guys, we never expected this but we’re really happy.”

Rounding up the podium was Sanjay Takale from India who was rewarded with the third place after a consistent drive over the weekend.

“I was lacking some confidence at the start after our crash at shakedown but we got our confidence back as the event progressed,” said Takale who now sits second in the APRC Drivers Championship, subject to official confirmation from organisers.

Photo courtesy of apsm.tvAustralian Adrian Coppin, in a Ford Fiesta R2, put on a stellar performance against the international drivers and was rewarded with second place in the International Rally of Queensland event, separate to the APRC registered drivers results.

Further down the field, it was Japan’s Hiroshi Asakura who took out the two-wheel-drive class after Michael Young of New Zealand rolled off the road, forcing him into retirement before the final service.

“I’m still not exactly sure what happened,” said Young, “but a bump in the road caused the car to unbalance sending us wide and into a bank. We then spun backwards down the road and somehow ended up upside down in the ditch.”

The next round of the Asia Pacific Championship is set to be held at the Malaysian Rally on the 23-25 August, 2013. Full details of the International Rally of Queensland APRC television coverage will be released shortly.

The team from APRCtv would also like to take this opportunity to extend their deepest condolences to all of those affected by the tragedy that occurred at the International Rally of Queensland today. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.

Story and photos courtesy of aprc.tv

Rally of Queensland 2013 – FIA APRC Results
1. Esapekka Lappi /Janne Ferm, ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, 2h08m43.8s
2. Simon Knowles /Margot Knowles, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +20m14.6s
3. Sanjay Takale / Sean Gregory, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +20m14.3s
4. Hiroshi Asakura / Osamu Yoda, PROTON Satria Neo, +37m50.7s


Lappi Sparks Title Fight

Esapekka LappiEsapekka Lappi has moved back into the lead of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship by winning the International Rally of Queensland today (Sunday). The 22-year-old from Finland, co-driven by Janne Ferm, claimed a commanding victory, his second of 2013, with Australian Simon Knowles clinching the FIA Pacific Cup.

But while Lappi celebrated, there was frustration for his fellow Team MRF ŠKODA driver Gaurav Gill. The winner last time out in New Caledonia was in trouble on Saturday’s second stage with a puncture before two spins caused the Indian driver further delay and handed Lappi a lead of more than two minutes starting Sunday’s final leg.

Although Gill went quickest on today’s opening two stages, his pace did little to trim Lappi’s commanding advantage, which grew considerably when Gill retired at the completion of stage 15 after his Fabia Super 2000 suffered a rear strut failure.

“It broke off in a straight piece of road,” said Gill, who had started the gravel event leading the APRC. “I didn’t hit anything but maybe it had fractures in it from somewhere else. I’m really disappointed but we will fight back on the next round in Malaysia.”

Gill’s failure to finish means that Lappi – who had struggled for confidence on Saturday morning due to inconsistent grip levels on the damp forest stages – now tops the championship standings once again with an advantage of 6.5 points over his team-mate. Privateer Simon Knowles was another beneficiary of Gill’s exit by wrapping up the FIA Pacific Cup, which was made up of the opening three rounds in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.

Subaru Impreza driver Sanjay Takale, from India, won the FIA APRC Production Cup and scored runner-up APRC points to maintain second place in the overall standings, having slipped back with a puncture on leg one.

Japan’s Hiroshi Asakura claimed two-wheel-drive honours in a PROTON Satria Neo. But there was despair for his Cusco Racing team-mate Michael Young, who rolled his Toyota Vitz on stage 15. “A bump in the road caused the car to unbalance sending us wide and into a bank,” said Young. “We then spun backwards down the road and somehow ended upside down in the ditch.”

The accident compounded a tough weekend for the emerging New Zealander, who was slowed by a puncture on Saturday.

WHAT THEY SAID:
Esapekka Lappi (Finland), first position: “This win means a lot and is really good for the championship. It’s sad our team-mate Gaurav had some problems and had to retire but we certainly enjoyed the rally. We had some confidence problems to start with but found our confidence yesterday afternoon. But the last two stages were horrible actually, narrow and very slippery. We had to drive very carefully.”

Simon Knowles (Australia), FIA Pacific Cup winner: “We’ve had a great weekend and to get the Pacific Cup is just incredible. We really feel for Gaurav but to finish first, first you must finish. Considering there is only four of us; myself, Margot and two service crew guys, we never expected this but we’re really happy.”

FIA APRC RESULTS (after 21 special stages, 222.91 kilometres):
1 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 2h08m43.8s
2 Simon Knowles (AUS)/Margot Knowles (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +20m14.6s*
3 Sanjay Takale (IND)/Sean Gregory (MYS) Subaru Impreza WRX STI +20m14.3s
4 Hiroshi Asakura (JPN)/Osamu Yoda (JPN) PROTON Satria Neo +37m50.7s
* Registered for FIA Pacific Cup points only

FIA APRC Production Cup: Sanjay Takale (IND)/Sean Gregory (MYS)
FIA APRC Team Trophy: Team MRF ŠKODA
FIA Pacific Cup winner: Simon Knowles (AUS)/Margot Knowles (AUS)
FIA APRC Junior Cup: No eligible finishers
FIA APRC Rally Cup 2WD: Hiroshi Asakura (JPN)/Osamu Yoda (JPN)

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS (full standings at www.fiaaprc.com):
Overall drivers: 1 Lappi 78pts; 2 Takale 75; 3 Gaurav Gill 71.5; 4 Michael Young 28; 5 Hiroshi Asakura 28. Overall co-drivers: 1 Ferm 78; 2 Gregory 75; 3 Glenn Macneall 71.5; 4 Daniel Willson 28; 5 Osamu Yoda 23; 6 Takumi Takahashi 5. Manufacturers: 1 ŠKODA 113.5; 2 Subaru 76; 3 Mitsubishi 71.5; 4 PROTON 18; 5 Toyota 14. *Subject to anti-doping checks being carried out.

EVENT DATA:
Stage winners:
Leg one, Friday July 12 and Saturday July 13, 111.24 kilometres:
SS1: Showgrounds 1 (2.02kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS2: Showgrounds 2 (2.02kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS3: Gibber 1 (6.00kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS4: Derrier 1 (21.22kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS5: Breakneck South 1 (4.18kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS6: Kandanga 1 (15.35kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS7: Pomona Dash 1 (6.85kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS8: Pomona Dash 2 (6.85kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS9: Gibber 2 (6.00kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS10: Derrier 2 (21.22kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS11: Breakneck South 2 (4.18kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS12: Kandanga 2 (15.35kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN

Leg two, Sunday July 14, 111.67 kilometres:
SS13: Million LA 1 (14.56kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS14: Mitchell Ck 1 (8.85kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS15: Breakneck North 1 (4.70kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS16: Derrier Reverse (21.20kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS17: Gibber Reverse (5.68kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS18: Million LA 2 (14.56kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS20: Breakneck North 2 (4.70kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS21: Big Derrier (28.57kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)

Rally leaders:
SS1-2: Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS3: Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS4-21: Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000

NEXT ROUND: Malaysian Rally, August 23-25

MORE INFORMATION: Visit the official FIA APRC website at www.fiaaprc.com or www.aprc.tv

Issued by Mediatica Limited on behalf of Asia Pacific Sports Media, PO Box 69, Opotiki, New Zealand 3162

International media enquiries: media@mediaticaworld.com
APRC enquiries: murray.brown@xtra.co.nz
Television enquiries: brian@apsm.tv


Coppin vs the Young Gun

Innate MotorsportCanberra rally driver, Adrian Coppin is looking forward to the opportunity to lock horns with the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship’s (APRC) young gun, Michael Young in Round 3 of the championship, to be held on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.

The FIA APRC rally series is contested on events in China, Japan, Malaysia, New Caledonia and New Zealand as well as Australia.

Coppin is the youngest factory supported driver in the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) and is currently leading the Australian Championship’s 1600 Cup and the International Cup and is 8th outright in the title chase.

At the International Rally of Queensland, Coppin will be driving his Castrol Edge supported Ford Fiesta R2 while Young, who currently leads the 2013 APRC Junior Cup championship, will be driving his Cusco Racing sponsored Toyota Vitz RS. The Toyota Vitz is sold in Australia as the Toyota Yaris.

“I am really looking forward to competing against Michael this weekend.” Coppin said. “I don’t know much about his car as it only made its debut at the New Zealand round a couple of months ago but he [Young] is a making a name for himself in the regional championship. He has a similar level of experience to me [Coppin] and is driving a car that is of a similar specification to mine, so I am keen to see how our times compare. I am looking to increase my speed, so competing against strong competitors like Michael in comparable vehicles helps push me to find my limits.” Coppin said.

Coppin had a good result in this event last year, finishing 3rd outright in the 2WD event and having his first taste of the podium champagne and is hoping to taste the rewards again.

There is also a slightly more pragmatic reason for entering the APRC event as well, and that is the television audience. “Both my major supporters, Ford and Castrol, are global brands so the opportunity to reach 463 million households in 183 countries via the television coverage of this round of the APRC is an important commercial consideration as negotiations for next year get underway” Coppin said.

Before the event starts, with a Super Special Stage at the Nambour Showgrounds on Friday night, Coppin will test his Ford Fiesta R2 in the Mary Valley on Wednesday, complete recce of the special stages on Thursday and undertake a range of promotional duties for the APRC.

The team is cross entered in the Australian Rally Championship and will secure points for Ford in the manufacturer’s title. Ford is currently 3rd in this title chase.

The local Maroochydore Ford dealer, Pacific Ford. will provide logistical support to the team again this year.

PHOTO: Michael Young driving his Toyota Vitz RS at Round 1 of the 2013 FIA APRC.