Gill Closes the Gap

Gaurav and Glenn - APRC MalaysiaGaurav Gill of India has reignited his Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) chances by winning the notoriously difficult Malaysian Rally held in Johor Bahru over the weekend, scoring maximum points to put his APRC drivers’ championship title back on track.

Gill, piloting his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 drove himself to victory, despite having some problems of his own on day one including a spin, as many of his main competitors became unstuck by the treacherous conditions meaning crews lost valuable time or were sometimes forced into retirement.

Sumiyama - APRC  MalaysiaGill said: “It was a great result for us and a great way to bounce back into the championship. It was very important for me and the team.”

When asked about his experience on the roads, Gill said: “It’s never enough here, whatever experience you have, it’s never enough. It’s definitely one of the toughest rallies in the world I think, because of the climate, the terrain and so on. This rally particularly was very very rough this year because a lot of rain prior to the rally and the roads were quite washed off and they expose a lot of stones and a lot big ruts. So definitely a big challenge.”

Mark Pedder - APRC MalaysiaOne of the many drivers to become a victim of the Malaysian roads was Gill’s teammate, Jan Kopecký, who was forced into retirement during stage 5 on day one when suspension was damaged and subsequently caused the left rear wheel to fall off.

Despite his untimely retirement, Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dressler re-joined the rally for day two, claiming the day’s results and pocketing a small number of points.

Kopecký said: “Yesterday we had a nice lead, over 1 minute, but unfortunately a suspension part broke after small jump… And today at least we score maximum points because we won the second day and still we are in the lead [of the championship].

Jun Xu - APRC Malaysia“The even more important thing for me we really good pace this weekend because this really was again new for us.”

Meanwhile, finishing the Malaysian Rally in second was former Asia Cup winner Yuya Sumiyama of Japan in his Cusco Racing Subaru Impreza while Austrailan Mark Pedder rounded out the podium in his Pedders Suspension Mitsubishi Evolution X in third.

Pedder, debuting in Malaysia for the first time in 2014, also finished second in the APRC registered drivers’ championship giving his championship chances a much needed boost like Gill, ahead of the next APRC round which he’s likely to miss.

A little over 20 seconds behind Pedder in fourth was Chinese driver Jun Xu in his Skoda Fabia S2000 ahead of Subhan Aksa in a Renault Clio and Mituhiro Kunisawa in a Subaru Impreza in fifth and sixth respectively.

Sanjay Takale - APRC MalaysiaDespite a roll-over on day one, Indian driver Sanjay Takale brought his panel-damaged Cusco Racing Subaru Impreza home in a respectable seventh place ahead of Cusco Racing teammate Michael Young, who are both focussed on the long-term outcomes of the APRC championship.

Rounding out the field in ninth and tenth was multiple Sri Lankan Rally Champion Dinesh Deheragoda who damaged his Ezy Racing Mitsubishi Lancer on day one after hitting a tree, and Tomohide Hasegawa who struggled with back problems all weekend in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

The next rally on the APRC calendar is Rally Hokkaido, held in northern Japan on September 27-28.

Malaysian Rally – APRC Results Provisional
Gill/Macneall, 03:01:23.2
Pedder/Dowling, +13:02.5
Xu/Liu, +0:21.7
Takale/Gregory, +13:57.4
Young/Read, +6:36.2

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Gill: Fightback Starts Here

Photo courtesy of Malaysian Rally is perhaps the toughest event in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. And Indian driver, Gaurav Gill, will be hoping that a new car will be just what he needs to get his Asia-Pacific Championship campaign back on track in Malaysia this weekend.

The Team MRF driver crashed out of June’s Rally of Queensland, and now trails his team-mate, Jan Kopecky, by 39 points in the battle for the title. However, his experience of the Malaysian Rally could prove decisive as the event’s slippery stages and tropical climate make this one of the toughest rallies in the world.

While Gill and co-driver, Glenn Macneall, will drive a brand new Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia S2000, team-mates Kopecky and Dresler will have a new engine fitted to their car, which could see them take a first-up Malaysian victory.

“This event is usually tricky on technical roads that are very slippery when wet,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan said.

Kopecky and Dresler - Photo by Geoff Ridder“The temperature and humidity makes this one of the toughest rallies anywhere in the world and is a real test of the crews’ stamina.

“Jan has been going to the sauna and wearing his overalls for the last few weeks to help get used to the conditions here, and both drivers and co-drivers will wear cool suits with ice water circulation to prevent fatigue.”

Team MRF will be hoping to get both cars to the finish and to consolidate their already considerable championship lead.

While they’re hoping for a dry event, rain in Malaysia can often be very localised, making tyre choice more difficult than at any other event in the championship. Temperatures during the day are expected to be around 30 degrees, with high humidity.

After a promotional start at a local shopping centre on Friday evening, the Malaysian Rally continues on Saturday and Sunday with 14 stages covering a total competitive distance of 217 kilometres.

The longest stage of the rally is the 26.32km Tai Tak stage, held twice on the first day.

After Jan Kopecky won the Pacific Cup covering the first three rounds of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, Team MRF have entered Gill in the Asian Cup, of which this event is the first round.

Other leading entries include Australians Mark Pedder (Lancer Evo X) and Tom Wilde (Renault Clio), Kiwi Michael Young (Proton Satria), and China’s Jun Xu in a Skoda Fabia.

Young Wants Title Again

Mike Young and Malcolm ReadNew Zealand rally driver, Michael Young, is focused on getting another solid result at the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in his Cusco Racing Proton Satria Neo at the Malaysian Rally based in Johor Bahru this weekend after his record breaking win at the same event last year.

The 21 year old from Opotiki in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region, became the youngest ever driver to win an APRC round at the Malaysian Rally in 2013 and says while he’ll try to replicate last year’s stunning result, he knows it will be difficult, given the complexity of the Malaysian roads.

Young says: “This is a really tough rally. You can have good grip for ages, then suddenly, nothing! That causes big problems because the trees are often right on the edge of the road, along with big ditches, so you have to be quite conservative at times to ensure a good result here, otherwise you end up hitting a tree or getting stuck.

“Then when you add the heat to the equation, it becomes even harder. The heat can affect your concentration and cause all sorts of other problems, like dehydration, so we have to be pretty vigilant with that too. We actually wear specially made cool suits to keep our body temperatures down as there is no air condition or ventilation in the rally cars.”

Young will again be joined by fellow New Zealander and co-driver, Malcolm Read, who has just finished a stint observing the World Rally Championship (WRC) event in Finland alongside Hayden Paddon.

“Last year the Malaysian Rally was our [Michael Young and Malcolm Read] first event together, so it’s kind of nice to be back here a year later, with all the titles we’ve managed to grab. Malcolm [Read] is a great asset to the team and I’d be lost, literally, without him,” explained Young.

Read adds: “The last year has been massive for me as a co-driver. There has been some amazing opportunities pop up, including the APRC with Mike [Young] and of course going to observe a WRC event but I am really looking forward to the challenge of Malaysia again this weekend.”

The Kiwi duo will contest the Malaysian event in their two-wheel-drive Cusco Racing Proton Satria Neo, respected in Asian rallying circles for its reliability on the tough, tight, slippery roads around the palm oil plantations where the event is run.

Young adds reliability will also be a key element to his result as he’s also determined to keep his championship placing’s, including, the lead in the two-wheel-drive, junior and production cups along with holding fourth in the overall APRC drivers’ championship.

The Malaysian Rally starts on Friday at 8.45pm at Angsana Complex before heading north on Saturday to Kota Tinggi for the first run of special stages. The crews will compete across fourteen of special stages on Saturday and Sunday before finishing at approximately 4.00pm on Sunday afternoon back at Angsana.

To keep up to date with Michael Young and his team during the rally, head to:

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

Competitor Update – August 2014

Here is information and updates for the remaining rallies of APRC 2014.

Malaysian Rally

Plans are in place for me to do import customs inspections next week, prior to teams arrival. Team containers are expected to be placed in Angsana SP on Friday evening 8 August, and teams will be able to access them and start prep from Saturday 9 August.

We will have access to the SP until late afternoon/evening on Monday 18 August. Please allow time for packup as required before the containers are picked up and moved to the port for shipment to Japan.

  • I expect that all AP’s for cars imported for the rally will be finalized next week. The organizers will arrange Third Party Insurance cover for these vehicles. A small fee will be payable to the organizers for the TPI.
  • I have arranged to do the export customs inspections at Angsana SP, either late on Monday 18 August, or early Tuesday 19 August. Providing I have keys for all teams containers, there is no need for team members to be on hand for this.

APRC Working Group Meeting

  • A reminder that the annual meeting of the APRC Working Group will be held at 8am on Monday 18 August, at Grand Paragon Hotel.
  • I have sent out the agenda and relevant information to all current teams and competitors. Your presence at this meeting will be important, as the group needs to know what you are thinking re future of APRC.
  • The meeting will be attended by Mr Jarmo Mahonen, FIA Rally Director.


Rally Hokkaido

  • Supplementary Regulations are available on the website
  • As in previous years, we will not have access to the Kita Aikoku SP until Monday 22 September. I plan to have all containers placed in the SP no later than midday on Monday.
  • You should have already been contacted by the organizers regarding the validity (or otherwise) of your driving licenses in Japan. If you have any doubts about this, please contact myself or the organizers directly.

China Rally

  • Rally Guide 1 is now available on the website or
  • As usual, we have to make plans well in advance for temporary import permits. I will be contacting all teams re this over next few weeks, and we can discuss in Malaysia.

Rally of Thailand

If you are having any problems accessing the above information and documents, please contact me directly and I can send you a copy.
Any other questions re the above events, or the APRC, again, please feel free to contact me directly

Murray Brown
APRC Coordinator