Young Takes Two Titles

MIT_7566-2-300New Zealander Michael Young secured the two-wheel-drive Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and junior cup titles with a round to spare after dominating the class at Rally Hokkaido in Japan over the weekend.

The 20 year old led the two-wheel-drive class and junior cup from the first stage but drove steadily to ensure a finish this year after failing to finish Rally Hokkaido for the previous two years.

“I finally finished Rally Hokkaido, third time lucky. It can’t get much better than this really. Even though it tried to stop me right at the end, nothing was going to stop me from finishing this time so I’m pretty happy.”

A potentially rally ending rock found its way into Young’s path in the penultimate stage, which Young could not avoid. The Cusco TRD Toyota Vitz suffered a puncture, forcing Young and Kiwi co-driver Malcolm Read, to change the tyre in only four minutes, just prior to the last stage of the event.

MI4_9240-300“There was a massive rock right in the [racing] line where I just couldn’t avoid it, the road was too narrow. I’m pretty sure Malcolm [Read, co-driver] felt it from what he said so I guess we got lucky that it didn’t do any more damage.”

Young’s APRC two-wheel-drive championship success comes after an excellent year in the Cusco TRD Toyota Vitz which saw the team also take their first APRC overall round win in Malaysia little over a month ago.

The Junior Cup, a class introduced to encourage young drivers to compete in the APRC with added benefits, was also tied up by Young over the weekend.

Even with one round in China to go, Young’s main rival, Hiroshi Asakura, cannot take the two-wheel-drive title from Young as the point’s gap between the two is too large.

MI4_9593-300“It’s just awesome. I had a great team behind me this weekend and their support meant I could finally achieve my goals this year which were to win the two-wheel-drive championship, and the junior cup,” said Young.

“Having my sponsors at the event helped too. Cusco, TRD and Dunlop were all there to support me and it certainly made a huge difference to have them all there.”

Japanese rally fans also flocked to support the Toyota driver due to his backing from multiple Japanese companies.

“The fans are great too. They are always so happy to meet you and I’m sure we could have been signing autographs all day if they’d [organisers] let us,” laughed Young.

RH13-MikeYoungSS2-APSMtv-300The next round for Young and co-driver Read is Rally Thailand, set to be held on 7-8 December, north of Bangkok.

This event is the final round of the Asia Cup series where Young sits in second place, equal with Yuya Sumiyama, last year’s Asia Cup winner, 22 points behind leader Shuhei Muta.

Young also sits third in the APRC drivers’ championship standings, with only one round to go in China, where Young is unlikely to compete.

Young’s APRC campaign is supported by CUSCO, Toyota Racing Developments, Dunlop and Yoda Rallying.


Gill Goes Ahead in Japan

Gill Claims Rally HokkaidoIndian driver Gaurav Gill is one step closer to clinching the 2013 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title after taking a dominant victory on this weekend’s Rally Hokkaido at the wheel of his Team MRF ŠKODA Fabia S2000. Title rival and team-mate Esapekka Lappi was forced to retire for the third time this season when suspension failure on his Fabia thwarted his charge.

Forming the penultimate round of this year’s coveted Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Rally Hokkaido is synonymous with fast and often narrow gravel roads. The stages caught out a number of drivers over the course of a three-day event based in and around the rally base of Obihiro.

Yuya SumiyamaLappi was the first APRC driver to fall foul of the tough Japanese tests when he incurred suspension damage on Saturday’s ninth test. With the Finn unable to restart on day two, Gill began Sunday’s stages with a comfortable lead. The Team MRF driver adopted a cautious driving approach in order to secure crucial championship points and now leads the overall standings by 13.5 points.

Last year’s FIA Asia Cup champion, Yuya Sumiyaya, finished second overall and also took a win for Subaru in the Asia Cup. Fellow countryman Shuhei Muta finished three minutes adrift of Sumiyaya, securing the runner-up spot and holding onto the Asia Cup lead with one round remaining.

Sunjay TakaleFurther down the field, MRU Motorsports driver Sanjay Takale was keen to make amends for a mistake on the previous round in Malaysia and leave Japan with as many APRC points as possible. The strategy paid off as the Indian drove a mature rally in his Subaru Impreza to finish second placed of the APRC competitors. Takale was also been crowned the winner of the APRC Production Cup after securing enough points to take the title with one round still remaining.

Coming home third out of the APRC crews was Malaysian Rally winner Michael Young (Cusco Racing). The New Zealander won both the two-wheel-drive and Junior Cup sections in his Toyota Vitz. Fourth place went to Young’s team-mate Hiroshi Asakura who entertained the home crowds in his PROTON Satria Neo.

Mike YoungWHAT THEY SAID:

Guarav Gill (India), first position and FIA APRC points leader: “It’s been a really tough weekend – a very long, hard rally and it’s not been easy at all so we’re relieved to win today. We started off with a good battle with Esapekka Lappi but then he had some problems so we were left with the advantage. Today we had to play smart, keep out of trouble and thankfully it paid off in the end. We were cruising this morning but I think we actually drove too slowly – these cars can be more difficult to drive when you’re not on the limit because there isn’t much traction so we needed to up the pace to ensure we finished with no dramas. We’re just happy to have made it to the end in one piece and with more points for the championship.”

Yuya Sumiyaya (Japan), FIA Asia Cup winner: “We are very happy to have finished with maximum points. Today’s stages were high speed so we tried to keep the car on the road and keep hold of the lead. Anything can happen on these roads as they are very rough on the car – the smallest mistake could put you out of the rally. Now we look ahead to the next Asia Cup round in Thailand which is a new rally for me. It’s going to be tough to beat (Shuhei) Muta again but we will push there and see what we can do.”

Michael Young (New Zealand), Junior and 2WD winner: “I’ve finally finished Rally Hokkaido, third time lucky. I’m really happy to win junior cup and two-wheel-drive, it can’t get much better than this.”

FIA APRC RESULTS (after 18 special stages, 232 kilometres):

1. Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL), ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, 2h26m26.2s
2. Yuya Sumiyama (JPN)/Naoki Kase (JPN), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +5m53.3s *
3. Shuhei Muta (JPN)/Takahiro Yasui (JPN), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +10m07.5s *
4. Sanjay Takle (JPN)/Sean Gregory (MYS), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +30m24.6s
5. Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL), Toyota Vitz, +31m58.8s
6. Hiroshi Asakura (JPN)/Takumi Takahashi (JPN), PROTON Satrai Neo, +39m59.6s
* Registered for FIA Asia Cup points only

FIA APRC Team Trophy: Team MRF ŠKODA
FIA Asia Cup winner: Yuya Sumiyama (JPN)/Naoki Kase (JPN)
FIA APRC Junior Cup: Michael Young (NZL)
FIA APRC Rally Cup 2WD: Michael Young (NZL)/Malcolm Read (NZL)

PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS (after 5/6 rounds, full standings at www.fiaaprc.com)

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

Overall Co-drivers: 1 Glenn Macneall 117.5; 2 Sean Gregory 104; 3 Janne Ferm 78; 4 Malcolm Read 64; 5 Takumi Takahashi 30; 6 Daniel Willson 28; 7 Osamu Yoda 23
Manufacturers: 1 ŠKODA 158.5; 2 Subaru 145; 3 Mitsubishi 104.5; 4 Toyota 55; 5 PROTON 29; Suzuki 24

EVENT DATA

APRC Stage Winners

Friday September 27 and Saturday September 28, 171.98 kilometres:
SS1: Satsunai River 1 (2.46kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS2: New Ashoro Long 1 (29.11kms): = Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN), Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS3: Yam Wakka 1 (23.49kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS4: Rikubetsu Long 1 (4.63kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS5: New Ashoro Long 2 (29.11kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS6: Yam Wakka 2 (23.49kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS7: Rikubetsi Long 2 (4.63kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS8: Yam Wakka 3 (23.49kms): Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN)
SS9: New Ashoro Long 3 (29.11kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS10: Satsunai River 2 (2.46km): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
Leg Two, Sunday September 29, 60.02 kilometres::
SS11: Otofuke Reverse 1 (6.30kms): Yuya Sumiyama (JPN)/Naoki Kase (JPN)
SS12: Honbetsu Reserve 1 (10.85kms): Shuhei Muta (JPN)/Takahiro Yasui (JPN)
SS13: Pawse Kamuy 1 (10.40kms): Yuya Sumiyama (JPN)/Naoki Kase (JPN)
SS14: Otofuke Reverse 2 (6.30kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS15: Honbetsu Reserve 2 (10.85kms): Yuya Sumiyama (JPN)/Naoki Kase (JPN)
SS16: Pawse Kamuy 2 (10.40kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS17: Satsunai River 3 (2.46kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)
SS18: Satsunai River 4 (2.46kms): Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL)

APRC Event Leaders

SS1-2: Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS3–5: Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS6-8: Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000
SS6-8: Gaurav Gill (IND)/Glenn Macneall (NZL) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000

NEXT ROUND: China Rally, November 2-3

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

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