Competitor Update – July 2015

Hi again everyone.

FIA Pacific Cup for 2015 has been decided, the winners being Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 for Team MRF. Congratulations to them both, and the team. Further information on upcoming rallies as below.

Malaysian Rally

  • Supplementary Regulations for this rally are now due to be available today, Monday 29 June. Please continue to check the rally website
  • Please note that the close of entries has been changed. This is now on Monday 20 July.
  • A reminder that registrations for Asia Cup 2015 close on same date, if this rally is your first nominated rally of Asia Cup 2015.
  • Entry forms and and accommodation booking forms (for Rally HQ hotel, Grand Paragon) will be available shortly.
  • As in previous years, team containers are expected to be onsite at Angsana SP on Saturday 8 August.
  • I am arranging to have customs inspections completed before the containers are delivered. There is no need for teams to be on site for the inspections, providing I have keys to locked containers.
  • As further information is available and confirmed, I will advise all concerned.

APRC Working Group meeting

  • The annual meeting of the APRC Working Group will be held on Monday 17 August at 8 am at Grand Paragon Hotel.
  • All team managers, and representatives are invited to and welcome to this meeting to discuss issues regarding APRC. Details of meeting will be available on request.
  • It is important that you as teams, as stakeholders in the APRC, are able to discuss any APRC issues with the executive and working group members. Your input is important, and we need to hear your views.

Rally Hokkaido

  • Supplementary Regulations are now available on the rally website
  • A reminder that competitors/drivers should check the validity of their civil drivers licenses for use in Japan. You will need either an International Driving Permit (IDP) which is basically a translation of your national license. Or you may be required to sit a driving test in Japan. Please check with the organisers if you are unsure.

China Rally

  • Rally Guide 1 is now available on the website or
  • Please take note of some of the dates listed in RG 1. These include accommodation requests, visa application letters, media accreditation, airport transfers etc.
  • Also note that I must have fuel orders in place to apply for the import permit by 14 August. I will be in contact with teams closer to time to organise their orders.

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
+63 908 310 5888

Swede Extends Lead in Queensland

Pontus Tidemand, Rally Queensland 2015Team MRF’s Pontus Tidemand has increased his lead in the 2015 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship after a convincing victory in the International Rally of Queensland.

Driving his Race Torque prepared Skoda Fabia S2000, the Swedish star cruised to a four minute victory after his team-mate and early leader, Indian Gaurav Gill, retired with engine failure on the final day.

The win puts Tidemand and co-driver, Emil Axelsson, 34 points clear at the head of the championship table, while Team MRF and Skoda continue to dominate the Manufacturers and Teams Cup competitions.

Despite this being his first visit to Australia, Tidemand quickly got used to the slippery and technical Sunshine Coast stages, although he initially trailed his team-mate after a puncture.

After 12 of the event’s 18 stages, Tidemand and Gill both had six stage wins, but luck wasn’t on the Indian’s side and he retired on stage 16.

It was Tidemand’s second win from three starts in this year’s APRC, and sets him up nicely as the championship moves into its second half. The win also saw Tidemand wrap up the three-event Pacific Cup, 27 points clear of the similar Skoda of Jean-Louis Leyraud.

Gaurav Gill,, Rally Queensland 2015“It was a good fight and it’s a shame it ended in retirement for Gill. But for sure it’s good for the championship and I have learned a lot on this rally, because it’s been a new surface so for me. It’s been really good,” Tidemand said.

“The team has done a fantastic job with the car and it has worked really well. Gaurav is also driving really well. It’s been a great event and I have enjoyed being here in Australia.”

Gill, along with Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall, was disappointed with his retirement, but has vowed to fight back at the next round in Malaysia.

“It was a great weekend. Unfortunately we had to retire in this way, but I am glad that I have learned a lot from fighting this weekend with Pontus,” he said.

“I thank him for the battle because it is really good to drive on the limit on every corner, on every stage through the weekend. That is a great feeling.”

The third Race Torque prepared Skoda Fabia S2000 of New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud and Australian, Scott Beckwith, finished a strong fifth.

Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, was happy to take another rally win, but was left ruing Gill’s day two retirement, and the chance of the team’s third 1-2 finish in succession.

“Pontus has once again showed that he is one of the most promising rally drivers in the world,” Heenan said.

“He is doing so much rallying around the world at the moment that new events don’t seem to bother him. He’s quickly on the pace and both he and Emil have gelled really well with the team right from the first rally in New Zealand.

“Of course it’s disappointing to see Gill drop out on the final day, as for a long time it appeared as though he was set for victory.

“But the Queensland stages are traditionally tough and getting to the finish is easier said than done.

“It was another great result for Jean-Louis as well, coming on top of his brilliant drive on home soil in the last event. His fifth place sees him retain third in the championship

“We’ll have both Team MRF cars on the pace again in Malaysia, and I’m confident that we can again push for another 1-2 finish.”

New Zealander Michael Young finished second in Queensland driving a Subaru Impreza WRX, with third place taken by Subhan Aksa in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

The next rally on the APRC calendar is the Malaysian Rally, held from August 14-16, near Johor Bahru in the south of the country.

The Malaysian Rally is renowned for being an extreme challenge for man and machine due to intense heat and humidity, and is often known as the rally of attrition.

2015 International Rally of Queensland – APRC round 3
1. Tidemand / Axelsson, Skoda Fabia S2000, 2h01m23.8s
2. Young / Read, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, +4m01.2s
3. Aksa / Arena, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +6m37.0s
4. Evans / Weston, Citroen DS3 R3, +7m05.6s
5. Leyraud / Beckwith, Skoda Fabia S2000, +10m26.8s

APRC points after round 3
1. Pontus Tidemand 108
2. Gaurav Gill 74
3. Jean-Louis Leyraud 56
4. Michael Young 55
5. Subhan Aksa 44

APRC Manufacturers’ Points
1. Skoda 117
2. Subaru 55
3. Mitsubishi 44

APRC Teams’ Trophy
1. Team MRF Skoda 242
2. Cusco Racing 55
3. Bosowa Rally Team 44

Source: Team Release
Photos by Geoff Ridder and

Tidemand Wins in Queensland

Emil Axelsson and Pontus Tidemand, Rally of Queensland 2015After a close weekend-long battle, Pontus Tidemand of Sweden has emerged victorious at the International Rally of Queensland, the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) held this weekend around Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

Tidemand, piloting a Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, fought with his team-mate Gaurav Gill all weekend with the duo creating some of the closest stage-battles in the APRC. But the intense competition came to an abrupt end in stage 16 when Gill, also in a Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, encountered engine troubles forcing him into retirement.

Tidemand says: “It was a good fight and it’s a shame it ended in retirement [for Gill]. But for sure it’s good for the championship and I have learned a lot on this rally, because it’s been a new surface… so for me, it’s been really good.

Gaurav Gill, Rally of Queensland 2015“Also the team has done a fantastic job with the car. It has worked really well. Gaurav [Gill] is driving really well, it’s been a great event, and I have enjoyed being here in Australia.”

New Zealander Michael Young, in a Cusco / EZY Racing Subaru Impreza, finished in second after another clean and consistent run, although he was not without his own troubles after hitting a bird at 180 kilometres per hour and puncturing late in the day.

“The weekend just went awesome for us. There were a few little hiccups along the way but the Cusco car was awesome and I’m really happy to have the extra support from EZY Racing this weekend,” says Young.

Michael Young, Rally of Queensland 2015“But in the afternoon we had a puncture, just near the end. Luckily we only lost 20 seconds or so and we just drove through as it was only 2km from the end. It’s just an awesome feeling, especially standing next to Pontus on the podium.”

Subhan Aksa, of Indonesia, rounded out the podium in third despite having Australia driver Eli Evans chasing him throughout the day.

Aksa says: “It is very unfortunate for Gaurav [Gill] stopping a few stages before the end. It was very challenging event for us right from day one but we are very happy to be on the podium.

“Our next rally will be in Malaysia, close to our home country. The type of road will be very similar to what we have back home and hopefully we will have some advantage there.”

A true stand-out performance of the rally was Australian Eli Evans, who piloted his two-wheel-drive Citroen DS3 to an impressive fifth overall finish, often swapping times with more powerful four-wheel-drive cars. Interestingly, Evans also won the local Australian Rally Championship round by over six minutes in the process.

Eli Evans, Rally of Queensland 2015“We’ve had a great weekend and it was only because of Gaurav’s [Gill] misfortune we got put into fourth. We couldn’t catch Subhan [Aksa] in his [Mitsubishi] Evo 10 but we drove the Citroen as fast as we could, and we had an absolute ball,” explained Evans.

Gill, while clearly disappointed as his retirement after leading the rally for so long, congratulated his team-mate and vows to fight back at the next APRC round in Malaysia.

“It was a great weekend. Unfortunately we had to retire in this way but I am glad that I have learned a lot fighting this weekend with Pontus [Tidemand]. I thank him for the battle because it is really good to drive on the limit on every corner, on every stage through the weekend. That is a great feeling.”

Just before the midday service after stage 12 Gill and Tidemand sat equal on stage wins, taking six each, before Tidemand slowly slipped away as Gill punctured in stage 15 followed by his subsequent retirement.

The next rally on the APRC calendar is the Malaysian Rally, held on the 14 to 16 of August, near Johor Bahru in southern Malaysia. The Malaysian Rally is renowned for being an extreme challenge for man and machine due to intense heat and humidity, and is often known as the rally of attrition.

International Rally of Queensland, Final Results
1. TIDEMAND / AXELSSON, SKODA Fabia S2000, 02:01:23.8
2. YOUNG / READ SUBARU Impreza WRX Sti, +04:01.2
3. AKSA / ARENA MITSUBISHI Lancer, EVO X, +06:37.0
4. EVANS / WESTON CITROEN DS3 R3, +07:05.6
5. LEYRAUD / BECKWITH, SKODA Fabia S2000, +10:26.8
6. PEDDER / MOSCATT, PEUGEOT 208, Maxi RC2, +11:12.0
7. COPPIN / KELLY, CITROEN DS3 R3, +13:55.1

Photos by Geoff Ridder and

Gill Leads After Day 1 of Queensland

Michael Young, Rally of Queensland 2015Gaurav Gill of India has emerged as the rally leader in slippery conditions after completing 10 special stages on a sunny day one at the International Rally of Queensland, the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) held this weekend around Sunshine Coast.

Gill, who last won this rally in 2010, took the lead early in his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 and kept it throughout the day despite having a spin in the morning loop to maintain a 4.6 second advantage.

Gill said: “Our day was okay. It was good but I made two mistakes which I’m very upset about. But we’re here all safe and sound, and I’m not taking any risks.

“We will change the setup of the car as there is absolutely no traction at the back of the car. We’ll put some more lock and some more grip in there [the differential]. I’m just keeping it on the road and smooth and bringing the car back. Pontus is slowly chipping time away from us but I know our speed and I know his speed.”

Meanwhile, his Skoda team-mate Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) maintained second position, even after having a puncture in the early stages and losing valuable time.

Both Team MRF Skoda drivers remain cautiously optimistic about their chances of taking the Rally Queensland win, but both maintain team points are important and they won’t take any major risks.

Subhan Aksa, Rally of Queensland 2015“I’m happy with this afternoon of the run after lunch service. This morning was little bit tricky, was not happy with the first three or four stages, but this afternoon was good,” said Tidemand.

“Tomorrow we take no big risks you know. It is important to get to the finish for the team.”

New Zealander Michael Young currently rounds out the podium in third, two and a half minutes down on the leaders in his Cusco / EZY Racing Subaru Impreza, after having a clean and consistent run in his second event in the four-wheel-drive car.

Young said: “This afternoon was a lot better. The setup changes we made at lunchtime seemed to work a lot better and it was just amazing. Straight away the car felt ten times better and I was able to push on with a bit more confidence.

“Tomorrow I just want to keep our position and stay in third. But Subhan is pushing a bit harder I think so we’ll have to manage that as best we can.”

On his return to the APRC Subhan Aksa of Indonesia drove his Mitsubishi Evolution to fourth, approximately one minute behind Young, but is vowing to fight back tomorrow after fuel issues with his car later today.

“I struggled to get into the rhythm today and on the last one [special stage] we had some problems. The fuel pressure was low and the engine kept cutting off,” explained Aksa.

Leading the Australian charge is Eli Evans in his two-wheel-drive Citroen DS3, who now sits fifth in international event despite encountering an unforeseen problem with the new car and water splashes.

“We drove hard this morning and we were able to keep in touch with the APRC guys Mike Young and Subhan Aksa in the Subaru and Lancer. But as they’ve got their groove on, they’ve been able to drive away so I can’t keep up with them now ,” said Evans.

New Caledonian veteran, Jean-Louis Leyraud, pushed hard early in the day but pulled back later in the day to finish the day in sixth in his Skoda Fabia S2000.

Eli Evans, Rally of Queensland 2015Mark Pedder (Australia, Peugeot 208 Maxi), Adrian Coppin (Australia, Citroen DS3), Atsushi Masumura (Japan, Mitsubishi Evolution), and Fuyuhiko Takahashi (Japan, Subaru Impreza) rounded out the top 10.

Day two of the International Rally of Queensland begins again tomorrow morning at 07.38am, with eight stages to run before the finish in Imbil.

To keep up to date with APRC news, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or see our website.

Results after Leg 1:
Gill / Macneall, 58:20.4
Tidemand / Axelsson, +00:04.6
Young / Read, +02:31.9
Aksa / Arena, +03:30.6
Evans / Weston, +04:02.7
Leyraud / Beckwith, +05:29.9
Pedder / Moscatt, +05:52.9
Coppin / Kelly, +07:58.3
Masumura / Nakagawa, +08:45.7
Takahashi / Ikeda, +12:19.6

Photos by Geoff Ridder and

Whether Weather Will Decide Rally Queensland

Michael Young, Rally Queensland 2015The fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), the International Rally of Queensland, is set to get away tomorrow after torrential downpours earlier in the week causing road conditions to dramatically change and posing an added challenge to drivers.

Held around Australia’s Sunshine Coast, the event takes in 18 special stages throughout the Imbil forest, but the recent rain doubled with tree lined roads has left the stages incredibly slippery and sometimes unpredictable.

Current APRC Championship leader, Pontus Tidemand (Sweden), says: “It will be tricky… To be honest, I like the roads, it’s quite fast and flowing. And for sure it’s been raining so it’s a little bit muddy and little bit tricky at this point but it’s the same for everyone.”

While Tidemand and co-driver Emil Axelsson will “focus on their own thing,” in their Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, their team-mate and 2013 APRC Champion Gaurav Gill has a different approach.

“Obviously the plan is to attack and to try and get maximum points,” says Gill, “we went testing the other day and the roads were quite slippery and wet so we made some changes to the car but we don’t know how it’s going to be tomorrow. It will be quite exciting.”

MRF Team, Rally Queensland 2015In only his second ever event in a four-wheel-drive car, New Zealander Michael Young and co-driver Malcolm Read will also be looking for a solid result in their Cusco Racing Subaru Impreza supported by EZY Racing.

“The stages are really muddy. There are quite a few really tricky places in the downhill but luckily we’re in the four-wheel-drive now. It would certainly be an extreme challenge in the two-wheel-drive but I think by the end of Saturday the stages will dry out a bit so that will help,” explained Young.

Subhan Aksa also returns to the APRC in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in his second attempt at Rally Queensland, after missing out the second round held in New Caledonia.

Aksa says: “We had to write new notes with Nicola so it’s basically a brand new rally for us. Looking at the recce, it was still quite muddy, and it would look like our rally back home in Indonesia; but it looks like it’s drying up.”

Jean-Louis Leyraud from New Caledonia also returns to the championship in his Skoda Fabia S2000 and says: “This is a good event but difficult and very challenging. The rhythm is changing all the time; you can go very fast on a wide road, then into the forest which is very narrow with some slippery parts. It’s quite interesting but I enjoy it.”

Fuyuhiko Takahashi, Rally Queensland 2015Atsushi Masumura of Japan returns in his Mitsubishi Evolution, alongside compatriot Fuyuhiko Takahashi in his Subaru Impreza.

A strong local field complements the APRC drivers, including former Pacific Cup runner-up Mark Pedder, in a brand new Argentinian-built Peugeot 208 Maxi and Adrian Coppin in a Citroen DS3. They both join two-time Australian Rally Champion, Eli Evans, who is also behind the wheel of a Citroen DS3.

The International Rally of Queensland is based out of Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane. The start ceremony took place in Caloundra town centre earlier tonight before teams head to the forest for 18 special stages. Saturday and Sunday sees the event move north to Imbil forest, approximately one hour from Caloundra.

Photos by Geoff Ridder and

Queensland a new challenge for Team MRF drivers

Gaurav Gill, Rally New Caledonia 2015The Team MRF pairing of Gaurav Gill and Pountus Tidemand will be fighting for victory in this weekend’s Rally of Queensland.

Asia-Pacific Rally Champions, Team MRF, head into this weekend’s International Rally of Queensland with two drivers separated by just three points in the overall standings.

After the opening two rounds in New Zealand and New Caledonia, Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand leads his Indian team-mate, Gaurav Gill, with both hoping to add victory on the Sunshine Coast to their resumes.

Both drivers have competed internationally recently, but in vastly different machinery. Tidemand and co-driver, Emil Axelsson, debuted Skoda’s new Fabia R5 in the Rally of Portugal and finished on the podium in the WRC2 category, while Gill won the second round of the Indian Rally Championship driving a diesel-powered SUV.

This will be Tidemand’s first visit to Queensland, and it’s another new challenge he’s looking forward to.

“Just like the two previous APRC rallies, everything is new to me this time too, even though I’m starting to get used to being in this part of the world – and the time difference,” he said.

“So far we have had great results and it obviously feels good to top the leaderboard, but we are almost half way into the season and the competition gets harder. We expect to be chased this weekend so we have to focus on the task, do our best and not bother too much about what is happening around us.

“I have heard a lot of good things about Rally Queensland and the enthusiastic fans in the area, so this is guaranteed to be fun.”

Jean-Louis Leyraud, Rally New Caledonia 2015Although he is yet to win in Queensland, Gill’s experience of the event could prove decisive in what is expected to be a great battle with his team-mate. He’s coming off victory in New Caledonia, and will be aiming to take the championship lead with a win this weekend.

Gill’s Race Torque prepared Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 will have a new engine fitted for this rally, while both cars will run fresh gearboxes. The team will also run a third car, for New Caledonian driver Jean-Louis Leyraud.

“We’re hoping for a third victory in three events,” team boss Lane Heenan said.

“We’ve had a great start to the year, and with previous success in the Rally of Queensland, both Pontus and Gaurav will be confident.

“Pontus has already done over 3000km of rallying this year, which is more than Gaurav will do for the entire season, so that should give him an advantage. But it’s also his first time in Queensland.
“Gill’s victory last weekend will be good for his confidence, but stepping out of a diesel SUV into a Super 2000 car will take some getting used to.

“Jean-Louis was also fast on his home event, and he’s comfortable and happy in the car, so we’re expecting good things from him as well.

“If we can have a consistent run over the weekend and get all three cars to the finish, we’ll be happy.”

Team MRF’s main rivals this weekend will come from the Subaru WRX of New Zealand’s Mike Young, and Indonesian Subhan Aksa in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.

Australian driver Mark Pedder will also contest the APRC component of the rally in a 1.6-litre turbo Peugeot 208 Maxi, as will Eli Evans, Tony Sullens and Adrian Coppin, all in Citroen DS3 R3s.

Competition in the International Rally of Queensland starts in the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Kenilworth at 7.30am on Saturday. Teams and enthusiasts staying in Imbil will be entertained at a free street party on Saturday night.

The rally finishes with podium presentations at the competitors’ service park in the Mary Valley Showgrounds in Imbil on Sunday afternoon, after 18 stages totalling almost 230 kilometres of forest racing.

APRC points after round 2:
1. Pontus Tidemand 70
2. Gaurav Gill 67
3. Jean-Louis Leyraud 41
4. Michael Young 26
5. Subhan Aksa 20

APRC Manufacturers’ points:
1. Skoda 78
2. Subaru 26
3. Mitsubishi 20

Source: Team Release