Young Still in the Hunt

Mike YoungNew Zealand rally driver, Michael Young, had a successful weekend at the International Rally of Queensland, doubling as the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), where he stuck to his promise of securing points for his championship campaign.

The 21-year-old from Opotiki finished the rally in fifth, securing second in both the Production Cup and Two-wheel-drive Cup categories along with winning the Junior Cup class in his Cusco Racing Proton Satria Neo.

Joined by Hamilton-based co-driver, Malcolm Read, Young also managed to finish second overall in the Pacific Cup Championship, contested over three rounds in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia, which was eventually won by reigning European Rally Champion, Jan Kopecký.

Young said: “It was a really successful weekend for us here in Australia. We stuck to our game plan and that was to finish the rally and bank good points for the championship. The Cusco Racing Proton also ran faultlessly all weekend which is a real credit to the team for giving me another great car, yet again.

“Malcolm also did a fantastic job in the co-driver’s seat. In fact, our biggest problem was a few cows and a small off on day one, so overall a pretty good weekend.”

Mike Young with Cusco Team Manager Takuya SugimuraNavigating the sometimes slippery, yet fast roads was often a challenge for the duo but they came away unscathed to maintain their Production Cup and Two-wheel-drive Cup championship leading over Australian drivers Mark Pedder and Tom Wilde respectively.

“To keep our championship lead after this event is awesome because we always knew trying to beat Mark [Pedder] and Tom [Wilde] at their home event was going to be tough. They’ve done this rally heaps of times in the past and know it really well but we didn’t let that get to us,” said Young.

Young also sits fourth in the overall APRC drivers’ championship, only 10 points behind third-placed Pedder, heading to Malaysia where Young enjoyed considerable success last year.

Mike Young“I love the Malaysian Rally. It’s tricky and it’s almost like the rally of attrition in some ways but it’s always a good challenge. Mark [Pedder] has never competed in Malaysia before so hopefully that helps us out a little too,” added Young.

The next event on Young’s calendar is the CRC Speedshow in Auckland on July 19-20. Young lines up as part of the Kiwi Young Guns display with 19 other motorsport competitors excelling in their chosen motorsport field around the world.

Young’s APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, Dunlop, Yoda Rallying, OMP, CRC Speedshow, Club Cadet and Sommet Sports.

Dramatic Rally brings Unexpected Outcomes

Jan KopeckyThe third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) held in Australia at the International Rally of Queensland, got off to a dramatic start on day one with many crews succumbing to a multitude of problems including Gaurav Gill’s shock retirement with team-mate Jan Kopecký taking the overall rally win on day two.

Gill’s low-speed accident, caused by a broken steering rack, put him off the side of a steep hill in second gear causing him and co-driver Glenn Macneall to retire from the rally during the first day.

Team MRF bosses said later the same day that the car was too badly damaged to rejoin the rally but confirmed both Gill and Macneall were okay and suffered no injuries, reiterating that the safety gear they heavily invest in did its job.

Gaurav GillPiloting his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 to victory, Kopecký eventually finished over six minutes ahead of his closest APRC rival, local driver Mark Pedder in his Pedders Suspension Mitsubishi Evolution 10, with Rally Queensland rookie, Jun Xu of China, rounding out the podium in third.

Kopecký’s biggest drama throughout the weekend was encountering cows in the middle of the road, often at high speeds, which he said caused his team great concern but overall, he’s thoroughly enjoyed the rally.

Kopecký said: “Unfortunately Gill didn’t come to the finish so we scored maximum points here. And we had some interesting experience with some cows here on this rally, that was not so nice but the stages was good and the organisation was good.

“It’s tricky here, because again recce was fully dry, fully dusty and we had some rain showers during the night which made some places really slippy.”

Mark PedderIn addition to his rally win, Kopecký also wrapped up the Pacific Cup title contested over the three rounds held in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.

Pedder echoes Kopecký’s comments but added the last stage of the rally was tense for his Pedders Suspension team.

“It’s really good to be here. We were fairly nervous going into that last one [stage] and I think that’s the slowest I’ve driven in a rally car for a long time. We kept a safe pace to get to the end and score some points.”

Although it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pedder after a puncture slowed him four kilometres from the end of the Derrier stage yesterday.

Team mate and compatriot Tom Wilde also had a successful rally despite handling issues during day one to take the two wheel drive win in his Verandah Apartments Renault Clio and finishing the rally in fourth, putting him in a good position for the remainder of the championship.

Mike Young“It was a long tough weekend, as it always is here in Queensland but we got through to the finish. We’re really happy and it is a good points haul for us. We were just off the pace to what we were expecting to be here but the car ran faultlessly all weekend thanks to the Verandah Apartments team so overall a pretty good weekend for us,” said Wilde.

Chasing Wilde in the rally was New Zealander Michael Young who finished the rally in fifth, bringing the points gap between himself and Wilde even closer yet the Kiwi maintains the championship lead.

“It’s nice to finish Queensland as last year didn’t go so well. We’re really happy; it’s good for the team with both cars home and with a good position. The car didn’t suit the fast stages but we went well in the tight twisty stuff I think.”

Young also encountered cows during the first day, causing him to lose time, in addition to a small off during stage three but it ultimately didn’t cost the 21-year-old too much.

Sanjay TakaleYoung’s Cusco Racing team-mate, Sanjay Takale from India, rounded out the top six after struggling with engine problems all weekend causing him to haemorrhage time throughout both days.

A misfiring engine is believed to be the cause of Takale’s time-loss, after he initially set fast times and diced with Young, challenging the youngster.

“We got the car home. We are losing power on the top end of the car so this [result] is the best possible option we could go for, with good points for the championship. The stages were good, along with the organisation but now I look forward to going back to Asia with rally in Malaysia.”

The next rally on the APRC calendar is the Malaysian Rally, set to be held in August around the city of Johor Bahru.

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Rally of Queensland – APRC Results
Pedder/Dowling, +6.10.9
Xu/Liu, +7.41.7
Wilde/Hayes, +9.41.2
Young/Read, +19.03.9
Takale/Gregory, +22.49.0

Story by, photos by Geoff Ridder

Young Determined to Stay Ahead

Mike YoungKiwi rally driver, Michael Young, is gearing up to tackle his third International Rally of Queensland and maintain his strong championship position at the third round of the 2014 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), held this weekend around the Sunshine Coast city of Caloundra.

Young currently sits third in the overall APRC drivers’ championship however he leads the Production Cup, the Two-wheel-drive Cup and the Junior Cup, and says he wants a solid points haul to keep his lead.

“I am now comfortable driving the Cusco Proton so I am really looking forward to the rally. Obviously our aim is to finish well within the points to keep our lead but that is easier said than done of course, especially here in Australia,” explained Young.

“The roads here are very fast and require a lot of commitment along with solid pace-notes to make sure you get it right. I’m fortunate enough to have Malcolm [Read] co-driving for me again at this event as we’ve been working together on refining our notes and getting them accurate.

Mike Young“Plus there are a few new stages in Queensland this year, which makes it fair for everyone, although there is one stage that I will take it easy on after our crash here last year. It’s something that is in the back of my mind but I have to try and forget about it.”

Despite the new stages and warnings of tricky sections, Young also admits the roads seem to suit his driving style which is a big advantage considering he has to keep ahead of two Australian drivers who have done this event numerous times throughout their career.

Young is 21 points ahead of local driver Mark Pedder in the Production Cup and leads Two-wheel-drive Cup rival Tom Wilde by 22 points in the respective classes.

Mike YoungWhile Young feels confident ahead of this weekend, his Cusco Racing team have been working hard since New Caledonia to repair damage caused by treacherous conditions there and also ensuring the Cusco Racing Proton Satira Neo is correctly set up for the different conditions in Australia.

“Our Cusco Racing team has been working incredibly hard and replacing a lot of components underneath the car to make sure we’re good to go this weekend. They’ve also refreshed the gearbox and I can’t thank them enough for all of their hard work,” says Young.

The International Rally of Queensland starts with a free street party on Friday night at Caloundra’s Kings Beach Park, before crews tackle 236.97 kilometres over 16 closed special stages. The rally is based out of Caloundra with the service park in the small rural town of Imbil.

Young’s APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, Dunlop, Yoda Rallying, OMP, CRC Speedshow, Club Cadet and Sommet Sports.

Source: Press Release. Photos by

MRF Ready for the Wet

Esapekka LappiThe Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is in Australia this weekend for the International Rally of Queensland, where Team MRF drivers Gaurav Gill and Jan Kopecky resume their battle for supremacy.

With one win apiece from the first two rounds, in New Zealand and New Caledonia, Gill and Kopecky come into round three of the championship equal on points, with both needing a win to move into a clear lead. Driving their Team MRF Skoda Fabia Super 2000s, their championship battle has, not surprisingly, been close. Both drivers are the class of the APRC field, with Gill the reigning title holder, and Kopecky last year’s FIA European Rally Champion.

“They’re both extremely talented and competitive drivers,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said this week.

“While Gaurav has done the Rally of Queensland several times before, this will be Jan’s first time, however he has shown that he has the experience to win events first time out. So we’re expecting another really close battle this weekend.

“We’ve never implied team orders in the past, and we won’t be starting that this weekend. Both drivers will be itching to gain an advantage and will be going for the win. It should be exciting to watch!”

Despite being held on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, based out of Caloundra, the weather is looking like being wet for the rally, which will make conditions even more tricky than normal.

Esapekka LappiDrivers have regularly stated that the forest roads around Imbil have very little grip, and if the forecast rain arrives, then conditions could be treacherous.

It was conditions similar to that which saw Gill’s car needing repair after an off-road excursion in New Caledonia that saw him drop from first to second place by the end of the event.

Since that rally, Gill has been busy, and last weekend won the Rally of Maharashtra, the first round of the Indian Rally Championship.

Both Gill and Kopecky will have a short test session on Wednesday morning, before the rally begins on Saturday.

The International Rally of Queensland will again be based in the Mary Valley, with the service park and event HQ located in Imbil, around two hours north of Brisbane. It is the sixth time the event has been a round of the APRC.

A revised itinerary has dramatically reduced the amount of liaison distance this year, with the majority of the stages being used twice, and two stages being run three times.

The rally is run over a total of 16 stages, over a mixture of fast flowing and sometimes twisty forestry roads. The longest stage of the rally is 35.72km in length.

After a ceremonial start in Caloundra on Friday night, the rally runs on Saturday and Sunday. The event is also round three of the Australian Rally Championship.

Source: Press Release. Photos by

Competitor Update – June 2014

International Rally of Queensland

Photo courtesy of

  • Rally Guide 2 is now available online Please note a revised itinerary is included in RG2.
  • A reminder that the close of entries for Rally Queensland is Wednesday 4 June. Please ensure your entry is in by 5pm (QLD time).
  • For teams having AQIS inspections, these will take place at Russells Transport, 118 Freight St, Lytton 4178, Brisbane. Same place as in previous years. Unless planned otherwise, this will take place on Friday 13 June.
  • Team containers will be moved to pre-event SP at Oaks Oasis, Caloundra on Saturday 14 June.
  • I can be contacted from Friday 13 June on local mobile +61 410 289 266

Malaysian Rally

  • Rally Guide 1 is now available online along with draft itinerary
  • Entries for Malaysian Rally (and Asia Cup registrations – if you wish to nominate Malaysian Rally as your first event of Asia Cup) will open next week and will close on Monday 14 July

Fuel orders

For competitors who are wanting a FIA compliant fuel supplied at upcoming events, you will need to place orders with me by end of June. Details of the fuel and final dates for confirmed orders are available on request.

If you have any questions on any of the above, or if you have any problems accessing the event information, please make contact with me directly.

Murray Brown – APRC Coordinator