Muta wins Malaysia

MR13-Muta-Day2-300Japanese driver, Shuhei Muta, has driven his way to first overall at the 2013 Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship despite competing on these roads for the first time in his life but perhaps was aided by the unusually fine weather conditions.

Driving his Cusco Subaru Impreza, Muta kept to his promise of “driving steady,” throughout the rally was awarded with the victory after his main rivals retired due to mechanical issues or off road excursions.

“This was my first time in Malaysia. It was difficult and tough but very happy to win. I only come here for experience and to study the roads so I didn’t push, I just try to finish,” said Muta.

“Now I look forward to Hokkaido [Japan] because it’s my home rally and of course we can push.”

MR13-Young-SS7-300Following Muta was New Zealander, Michael Young, who put in a stellar effort in his Cusco TRD Toyota Vitz and finished in second place after battling with Chaiyan Longton all weekend.

“It’s great, we’re absolutely stoked,” said Young, “this result is great for our championship fight but the next round in Japan is also important for us as it’s both Cusco’s and Toyota’s home rally.”

“The guys [service crew] all did an amazing job this weekend and so did Malcolm [Read] who read the pace notes faultlessly all weekend.”

Rounding out the podium in third, was Chaiyan Longton in a Suzuki Swift, who lost significant time to Young after a gearbox failure during the first day and a puncture on day two.

MR13-Longton-Day1-300However, it was a double win for Young as he also took out first place in the APRC registered drivers’ championship ensuring his APRC campaign is back on track.

Gaurav Gill has also ensured his APRC campaign remains strong after winning the second day of the rally and now sits in first, half a point ahead of team-mate Esapekka Lappi with just two rounds to go.

“We made a mistake yesterday and went off the road, damaging the radiator. We decided not to continue to save the engine for today,” said Gill, “It was another learning curve for us but we were still able to score maximum points for the championship so that was good.”

“The gap between Lappi and I is now really close but Japan is next and I really like that event. We should be able to push there.”

Sanjay Takale, another top APRC championship contender, also re-joined the Malaysian Rally today but got stuck in a ditch during the morning stages and was unable to continue the day.

MR13-Hasegawa-Day1-300Meanwhile, Tomohide Hasegawa also had more problems with his Mitsubishi Evolution but managed to bring the car home to finish the rally and score valuable points for his Asia Cup campaign.

Two-wheel-drive competitor, Hiroshi Askaura in a Proton Satria Neo, also finished day two after an early retirement yesterday and also scores Asia Cup points.

MR13-Lappi-Mud-300Unfortunately 2012’s Asia Cup winner, Yuya Sumiyama, failed to finish the rally after leading the Asia Cup battle for most of the event when his Subaru Impreza’s engine failed prior to the midday service leaving him stranded.

The APRC’s next event is Rally Hokkaido in Japan, set to be held on the 27-29 September 2013. Both the APRC drivers’ championship and the Asia Cup battle will continue on the northern island of Japan on roads many of the drivers are familiar with and enjoy driving on.

Story and Photos courtesy of aprc.tv


Young Takes APRC Glory For Toyota

Photo courtesy of KotakeToyota driver Michael Young has claimed his maiden victory in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship as title rivals Gaurav Gill and Esapekka Lappi both hit trouble on the Malaysian Rally, which finished today (Sunday) following two days of dramatic competition in the sun-baked plantations north of the event base in Johor Bahru.

While Lappi was unable to restart following his retirement with engine failure on Saturday’s fifth stage, Gill returned to the action on the final morning and scored sufficient leg bonus points to move to the top of the APRC standings by half a point with two rounds remaining. Elsewhere, Shuhei Muta triumphed for Subaru as the three-event FIA Asia Cup got underway.

Gill was the first of the expected frontrunners to falter when contact with a bank on stage four left his Team MRF ŠKODA-entered Fabia Super 2000 beyond immediate repair. The Indian had been on top form prior to his early exit having won the opening three stages. His misfortune handed top spot to team-mate Lappi, whose lead lasted until the following test when his Fabia’s engine failed and triggered the Finn’s second retirement of 2013.

With both MRF ŠKODA drivers out, Sanjay Takale seized the initiative in his Subaru Impreza only to retire on stage five with fan belt failure. Like his fellow countryman Gill, Takale – second in the APRC points prior to the start – also returned to the action on Sunday but only managed to complete one stage before going off the road and stopping for good.

Photo courtesy of KotakeAs Gill cleaned up the Sunday stage wins by going fastest on all of leg two’s seven runs, New Zealander Young and new co-driver Malcolm Read performed without fault in the intense heat to claim top APRC points in their Cusco Racing-run Toyota Vitz RS. Young, aged 20, is understood to be the youngest winner of an APRC round.

Yuya Sumiyama, the defending Asia Cup champion, had been leading the division following Lappi’s exit only to retire his Impreza on stage 11. His misfortune promoted fellow Japanese Shuhei Muta into the class lead in a similar Cusco Impreza. With Gill and Lappi out of contention in their pacesetting ŠKODA Fabias, Muta also claimed the overall event victory.

As well as landing the APRC honours, Young took second in the Asia Cup with Thailand driver Chaiyan Longton third in a Suzuki Swift. Tomohide Hasegawa’s heroics were rewarded with fourth place after the Japanese was forced to limp his Mitsubishi Lancer through the bulk of Saturday’s stages with a broken turbo.

WHAT THEY SAID:
Michael Young (New Zealand), APRC winner: “It’s great, we’re absolutely stoked. This result is great for our championship fight but the next round in Japan is also important for us as it’s both Cusco’s and Toyota’s home rally. The service crew all did an amazing job this weekend and so did Malcolm [Read] who read the pace notes faultlessly all weekend.”

Shuhei Muta (Japan), FIA Asia Cup winner: “This was my first time in Malaysia. It was difficult and tough but I’m very happy to win. I only came here for experience and to study the roads so I didn’t push, I just try to finish. Now I look forward to Hokkaido because it’s my home rally and of course we can push.”

Gaurav Gill (India), FIA APRC points leader: “We made a mistake yesterday and went off the road, damaging the radiator. We decided not to continue to save the engine for today. It was another learning curve for us. The gap between [Esapekka] Lappi and I is now really close but Japan is next and I really like that event. We should be able to push there.”

FIA APRC RESULTS (after 15 special stages, 219.90 kilometres):
1 Shuhei Muta (JPN)/Takahiro Yasui (JPN) Subaru Impreza WRX 3h16m37.3s
2 Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL) Toyota Vitz RS +35m51.3s
3 Chaiyan Longton (THA)/Nipaporn Asaisart (THA) Suzuki Swift +39m36.2s
4 Tomohide Hasegawa (JPN)/Osamu Yoda (JPN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo +1h02m33.4s*
* Registered for FIA Asia Cup points only

FIA APRC Team Trophy: Cusco Racing
FIA Asia Cup winner: Shuhei Muta (JPN)/Takahiro Yasui (JPN)
FIA APRC Junior Cup: Michael Young (NZL)
FIA APRC Rally Cup 2WD: Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)

PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS (after 4/6 rounds, full standings at www.fiaaprc.com):
Overall drivers: 1 Gaurav Gill 78.5; 2 Esapekka Lappi 78pts; 3 Sanjay Takale 75; 4 Young 66; 5 Hiroshi Asakura 33. Overall co-drivers: 1 Glenn Macneall 78.5; 2 Janne Ferm 78; 3 Sean Gregory 75; 4 Malcolm Read 38; 5 Daniel Willson 28; 6 Osamu Yoda 23; 7 Takumi Takahashi 10. Manufacturers: 1 ŠKODA 120.5; 2 Subaru 114; 3 Mitsubishi 88.5; 4 Toyota 41; 5 Suzuki 24; 6 PROTON 21.

EVENT DATA:
APRC stage winners:
Leg one, Friday August 23 and Saturday August 24, 138.08 kilometres:
SS1: Angsana 1 (2.50kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS2: Tai Tak-HQ 1 (26.32kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS3: Tai Tak-Fishpond (17.69kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS4: REM 1 (22.53kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS5: Tai Tak-HQ 2 (26.32kms): Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)
SS6: Tai Tak-Fishpond (17.69kms): Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)
SS7: REM 2 (22.53kms): Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)
SS8: Angsana 2 (2.50kms): Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)
Leg two, Sunday August 25, 81.82 kilometres:
SS9: Tai Tak-Court House 1 (12.83kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS10: Tai Tak-Lukut 1 (12.57kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS11: Tai Tak-Mawai 1 (14.26kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS12: Tai Tak-Court House 1 (12.83kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS13: Tai Tak-Lukut 1 (12.57kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS14: Tai Tak-Mawai 1 (14.26kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS15: Angsana 2 (2.50kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)

APRC event leaders:
SS1-3: Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS4: Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS5-15: Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL) Toyota Vitz RS
NEXT ROUND: Rally Hokkaido (Japan), September 27-29
MORE INFORMATION: Visit the official FIA APRC website at www.fiaaprc.com or www.aprc.tv
ENDS

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Takale banks Solid Points

Sanjay TakaleIndian driver, Sanjay Takale, has driven himself to an excellent second place in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (ARPC) drivers’ standings after featuring in the points table at all three events held so far this season despite going head to head against factory based teams.

Privateer driver, Takale, has been the only registered driver in the APRC championship who has not only finished every round, but also scored points at all three events in 2013, against leading drivers, Esapekka Lappi, and experienced compatriot Gaurav Gill, despite finding the roads in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia tricky.

“The roads, especially in New Zealand and Australia are very very fast compared to my home rallies like India and Malaysia,” explained Takale, “I do like the roads around New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia but I am really looking forward to driving in Asia again because it is more like my regional championship.”

“We also have a new car this year so I was still trying to get used to that too. It has more horsepower than my old car but is very nice to drive.”

The MRU Subaru Impreza WRX made its debut with Takale at the International Rally of Whangarei in May and has seen Takale move further up the leader board at each event as he becomes familiar with the car’s features and handling.

However the main focus for Takale and his MRU team is now the Asia Pacific Cup which is set to be contested over three rounds held in Malaysia, Japan and Thailand, and while Takale remains optimistic about his APRC campaign, he is also well aware of the unexpected challenges he may face.

“The Pacific rounds were fantastic without a doubt as I scored maximum points and drove with confidence despite some problems in Queensland. But while second position in the APRC is very enticing, rallying is a difficult business and anything could happen in the next few rounds,” explained Takale.

“But Malaysia is like my second home. I drive the Subaru which is built and maintained by MRU Motorsports, who is a Malaysian based team, and I have been competing there since 2010 so I hope I can do well here.”
Ultimately though, Takale would simply like to win his class at the Malaysian Rally and extend his points lead over class rival, Hiroshi Asakura, of Japan.

“I want to finish well ahead of [Hiroshi] Asakura to gain maximum bonus points to seal up the N4 Production Cup class and not take the title fight to Japan. It would be wise for us to win in Malaysia because I have opted to skip the final round in China, where [Hiroshi] Asakura should be able to score maximum points, so we’ll try to extend the points gap beyond his reach here in Malaysia.”

The next round for Takale and the MRU Subaru team is the Malaysian Rally, set to be held on the 23-25 August, 2013 held near the city of Johor Bahru.

The photo is free to use for editorial purposes. Please credit Asia Pacific Sport Media. The first photo shows Sanjay Takale in action during the International Rally of Queensland in July.

For interviews, further information of alternative and/or larger versions of the images and any other media queries, please contact:

Alana McIsaac, Asia Pacific Rally Championship Media
M: +64 27 515 7157
E: alana.mcisaac@gmail.com

Sanjay Takale’s 2013 APRC Calendar
Round 1: 18-19 May, International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand
Round 2: 14-16 June, Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie, New Caledonia
Round 3:13-14 July, International Rally of Queensland, Australia
Round 3: 24-25 August, Malaysian Rally, Malaysia
Round 4: 28-29 September, Rally Hokkaido, Japan
Round 5: 06-08 December, Thailand Rally, Thailand