Hat-Trick for new Skoda R5

Skoda Fabia R5, Rally Germany 2015With his win at the Rally Germany, asphalt king Jan Kopecký (CZ) clinched the hat-trick of wins for the ŠKODA Fabia R5 in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2). There was also a first: 33-year-old Kopecký and his co-driver Pavel Dresler (CZ) celebrated the debut WRC 2 win on asphalt for ŠKODA’s new rally car. And with a large lead of more than four minutes after 374.43 timed kilometres.

“Jan Kopecký, Pavel Dresler and the entire ŠKODA Motorsport team have done a superb job. The first WRC 2 win on asphalt is particularly special. Firstly, because after the two wins on gravel in Poland and Finland, we have now proven that our new ŠKODA Fabia R5 is a winning car on any surface. Secondly, because Germany is the most important market for ŠKODA in Europe. However, this win is simply the motivation for us to continue to work hard for future successes,” summed up Michal Hrabánek, Motorsport Director at ŠKODA. ŠKODA development board member Dr. Frank Welsch was also delighted by the team’s performance, after experiencing it first hand on the stages and at the service park in Trier.

In Kopecký/Dresler he witnessed a ŠKODA works team that drove in a league of its own in the WRC 2 at the Rally Germany. The successful duo took the lead on the first stage and continued to extend it on the narrow asphalt roads through picturesque vineyards. The reigning Asia-Pacific champion was in control at all times and fascinated tens of thousands of fans in glorious sunshine on the dreaded stages. “We are delighted with this win! That was a rally to enjoy in a fantastic car. Once again our ŠKODA Fabia R5 proved what an outstanding rally car it is,” said the old hand.

Pavel Dresler and Jan KopeckyAfter four wins in four races, Kopecký is on track to win the title in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR). Kopecký will be back in action in the national championship at the Barum Czech Rally Zlin this coming weekend. Kopecký: “We are already really looking forward to the Barum Rally with thousands of enthusiastic rally fans in our home country.”

The second ŠKODA works team of Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) shone at the ninth event of the FIA World Rally Championship season with seven best times in WRC 2. A mistake on the second special stage at the Rally Germany put paid to any hopes of a top result. “After this mistake we were able to gain valuable experience here. We will be back on the attack in the next races and hope to do better,” said Lappi.

The new front-runner in the WRC 2 championship standings is reigning champion and Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q). On his debut in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 in the area of customer racing, the top driver worked his way up into fourth place in the classification after an impressive chase. The 22-year-old ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver Fabian Kreim (D) also hinted at his talent with top times in the Fabia R5.

Rally Germany – final standings WRC 2
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZ/CZ), ŠKODA Fabia R5 3:47:18.8 hrs.
2. Camilli/Veillas (F/F), Ford Fiesta R5 + 4:13.8 min.
3. Giordano/Sarreaud (F/F), Citroën DS3 S2000 + 6:14.7 min.
4. Al-Attiyah/Baumel (Q/F), ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 6:36.5 min.
5. Breen/Scott (IRL/GB), Peugeot 208 T16 R5 + 6:54.0 min.

Source: Team Release

Competitor Update – 25 August 2015

APRC Fuel Supplies 2015

  • You will be aware of the incident that happened recently in the port of Tianjin, China. As this involved the handling and storage of dangerous goods, this has had a dramatic effect on the fuel shipments to APRC rallies.
  • Fuel due to be shipped to Japan for Rally Hokkaido was rejected at the port of export. This is a direct result of the Tianjin incident.
  • As a further complication fuel shipments in to China have been suspended. The Xingang port is one of the ports affected in Tianjin.
  • At this stage I am unsure as to ability to ship fuel to India for India Rally. I will keep you informed as situation develops.

Rally Hokkaido

  • Rally Guide 2 is due to be available on 28 August. Please check the rally website www.rally-hokkaido.com
  • Entries for Rally Hokkaido close on Friday 28 August, at 1800hrs
  • Registration for Asia Cup (if Rally Hokkaido is your first nominated rally) closes at same time, ie Friday 28 August.
  • If you are wanting to order pump fuel through the organisers (refer Supp Regs Art 8) you will need to have your orders placed by Friday 3 September. Order form is available on the rally website.
  • A reminder also for media accreditation, applications for accreditation close on Friday 3 September.
  • If you have not already done so, the organizers have arranged special rates for rental cars for Rally Hokkaido participants. Please refer to the link available on the website.

China Rally

  • China Rally will be held in Longyou again this year.
  • Supplementary Regulations are available on the rally website www.fasc.org.cn
  • Detailed import invoices to process the temporary import in to China need to be sent to China by 15 September. As in previous years I will prepare these on behalf of teams. I will ask teams to confirm the details on the invoices before I send these to China.
  • There is the possibility of an FIA approved fuel to be available in China through one of the local teams. If you are interested in details on this, please let me know.

Coffee Day India Rally

  • Plans are coming together for India Rally. Within next few weeks I expect more information to be made available by the organisers.
  • Currently I am expecting to have all containers moved under customs bond from Chennai, to Bangalore. Customs inspections are expected to take place in Bangalore on approx 2-4 December and then have containers available at Chikkamagaluru by Monday 7 December.
  • Please note that currently organisers are planning 2 separate service parks for Leg 1 and Leg 2. It will not be possible to re-locate the team containers. Alternative transport options are being investigated.
  • As more information becomes available I will pass this on.

Vehicle Livery

  • A general reminder to teams when considering livery (stickers/painting) of your rally cars. I refer you to FIA Regional Rally Sporting Regulations V4 (APRC) Article 18.2.4.
  • When preparing your livery, please ensure you allow for the reserved space as provided for under this article.

If you are having any problems accessing the above information and documents, please contact me 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

Malaysia Bites Young

Mike Young, Malaysian Rally 2015After showing good pace during shakedown and second fastest on the Rallysafe split-times Mike Young’s Malaysian Rally ended in spectacular fashion, clouting a bank half-way through the first stage. The New Zealander managed to keep his Cusco EZY Racing Subaru Impreza going for a few more kilometres before pulling over to save further damage to the car.

Back at the service park in Johor Baru, Young said, “Definitely not the rally we were hoping for, a small mistake but it was enough to end the rally. The Malaysian rally can bite hard and very easily.

“I carried too much speed through a left hand corner and with only 40m to the next corner it was impossible to scrub enough speed off for the next right. The impact with a bank was enough to push the front guard in and break the left hand lower arm. We tried to continue but with the tyre rubbing against the guard it caused the tyre to go flat. At that point we decided to stop to avoid further damage to the car.”

“A disappointing end especially with all the support we’re getting from EZY Corporation who are based in Singapore. We have to look at the positives and learn from our mistakes, we will be better and stronger for Hokkaido”.

It was Young’s first DNF since partnering up with fellow New Zealander Malcolm Read exactly two years earlier on the 2013 Malaysian Rally. Since that event, the kiwi pair have finished all ten events they’ve started.

The CUSCO EZY Racing team did an amazing job of rebuilding the left front suspension and panel-beating the front guard back into shape to get Young and back onto the stages for Day 2.

Mike Young, Malaysian Rally 2015
The pair were immediately back on the pace and just to show what might have been, were second fastest time on Stage 9, then a string of third places.

At the finish podium Young was feeling a bit more up-beat after completing Day 2 “Today brought my confidence back, setting a second fastest time in the first stage and top 3 in the next 3. Pouring rain and a flat tyre in the last stage destroyed any chance of recovering some points though – we only ended up with only one point for the whole event. Onwards and upwards from here on, we are ready to hit the reset button in Hokkaido. It’s a rally we love and one I always look forward to being Cusco’s home rally.”

The extra point gained in Malaysia was enough to move Young into third equal in the ‘FIA Asia Pacific Rally Cup powered by Würth’ and the New Zealander easily leads the Production Cup after his competitor in this class, Subhan Aksa from Indonesia did not start in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s result does make winning back the FIA Asia Cup Young won in 2013 slightly harder, however this sub-category is based on the best three results from the four Asian events. Three good finishes in the remaining APRC events of 2015, could change everything.

Tidemand Wins ‘Extreme’ Malaysian Rally

Pontus Tidemand, Malaysian Rally 2015Pontus Tidemand’s third win of the season gives him a commanding lead in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Swedish star Pontus Tidemand has taken a hard fought victory in the fourth round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), extending his series lead over team-mate Gaurav Gill.

Driving his Team MRF Skoda Fabia Super 2000, Tidemand and co-driver, Emil Axelsson, took a victory of nearly two minutes in hot and steamy conditions like they had never before experienced.

Such was the heat in Malaysia that drivers and co-drivers wore cooling vests throughout the rally. The humid conditions also took a toll on the rally cars, with many of Team MRF’s rivals failing to finish.

“I was prepared that the heat would be close to unbearable, but it was actually even tougher than I expected” Tidemand after spraying the victory champagne on Sunday afternoon.

“This is the most extreme rally experience I have ever had, and I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life.

“But the fact that it was so tough makes us treasure our win even more, and it is a nice feeling to know that you are capable of more than you think.

“I am very satisfied with my own and Emil’s performance, but also very impressed by the other participants and the teams that work so hard in the heat.

“Now I’m really looking forward to the last two APRC rounds!”

Despite winning in Malaysia last year, the event wasn’t as kind to India’s Gaurav Gill and Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall in 2015.

Pontus Tidemand, Malaysian Rally 2015Running first on the road on day one, they were slowed regularly with grass clogging the radiator, causing the engine to overheat and having to stop on several occasions.

“The temperature went up and we had to stop and remove the whole front bumper, and so we lost nearly a whole minute,” Gill said.

However, despite his disappointment, Gill was thrilled with Team MRF’s success, and the team’s fourth win of the season.

“Great result for Team MRF, with both cars back at the end. It is good for the championship and the team.

“It’s been a crazy weekend for us though, especially with the tall grass in the stages, and to top it off, we had a diff problem on the final day, but it’s great to finish in second place.”

Pontus Tidemand’s victory now sees him move 43 points clear of his team-mate in the overall championship standings, with a big gap back to third placed drivers Jean-Louis Leuraud (New Caledonia) and Mike Young (New Zealand).

Skoda’s lead in the APRC Manufacturers’ Championship has now grown to 80 points over Subaru and Mitsubishi, while Team MRF / Skoda have an unassailable lead in the APRC Teams’ Trophy.
Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said that the Malaysian Rally was once again a tough event for both drivers and cars.

“There was lots of long grass on the stages, and both our drivers had to stop in stages several times to clean the grass from the radiator ducts as the cars were overheating.

“Gill had a few more stops, and that was basically the difference at the end of Leg 1, and Pontus was able to maintain that advantage to the finish.

“But the Team MRF Skodas again performed well and we’re happy with another 1-2 finish, and our fourth victory of the season.”

The next round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is Rally Hokkaido in Japan, to be held from September 18-20.

APRC points after Round 4
1. Pontus Tidemand 147
2. Gaurav Gill 104
=3. Jean-Louis Leyraud 56
=3. Michael Young 56
5. Subhan Aksa 43

APRC Manufacturers’ points
1. Skoda 156
2. Subaru 76
3. Mitsubishi 46

APRC Teams’ Trophy
1. Team MRF Skoda 311
2. Cusco Racing 78
3. Bosowa Rally Team 44
4. Wan Yu Rally Team 23

Source: Team Release

Boiling Hot Win for Tidemand

Gaurav Gill, Malaysian Rally 2015It takes a large amount of concentration and perseverance to even make it through Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Swedish rally driver Pontus Tidemand did more than that – after two competitive days in massive heat, he took yet another valuable win for ŠKODA Motorsport and MRF Tyres in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

Just like expected, Malaysian Rally became the most demanding challenge so far this year. To be focused and fast is not enough here; the heat and the humidity offer the biggest competition, both for crews and cars. The cooling vests that the drivers and co-drivers use only helps to a certain limit and with short liaison distances, there is not much time to fill up with fluids, which makes it more difficult to keep the concentration and easy to make mistakes. The cars become overheated with the heat taking its toll on components such as tyres and dampers.

“I was prepared that the heat would be close to unbearable, but it was actually even tougher than I expected” said Tidemand. “This is the most extreme rally experience I have ever had and I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life” said Pontus with a smile. “But the fact that it was so tough makes us treasure our win even more and it is a nice feeling to know that you are capable of more than you think. I am very satisfied with my own and Emil’s performance, but also very impressed by the other participants and the teams that work so hard in the heat. Now I really look forward to the last two APRC rounds!”

Fan Fan, Malaysian Rally 2015
“It started pretty okay for us and we had some really good stages, but towards the afternoon it was on the verge of what you can handle. Considering that feeling, we are happy that we could give that little bit extra and just stand the heat long enough to get to the finish on Saturday.”

Tidemands MRF team-mate Gaurav Gill from India is a past winner in Malaysia, however his event was plagued by grass clogging the radiator air in-takes causing the engine to over-heat, forcing him and co-driver Glenn Macneall to stop on numerous occasions, especially on day 1 when they were first car on the road. Gill focussed on the positives though at the finish, “Great result for team MRF, both cars back at the end, good for the championship and the team. Its been a crazy weekend for us though, especially with the tall grass in the stages and to top it off we had a diff problem today”.

Third place was China’s Fan Fan who eased off the pace in the final stages when the rain hit and to conserve the Soueast Motor Mitsubishi Lancer EX for the next APRC round in Japan.

Genki Takeuchi, Malaysian Rally 2015Cusco Racings Subaru Impreza driver, Genki Takeuchi finished the rally fourth and Immens Motorsports Subaru Impreza of Japanese Hitoshi Takayama rounded out the top 5. The two Japanese drivers were competing in their first international events and were separated by just 33 seconds at the finish.

The last classified finisher was Kazuhiro Hayashi with co-driver Osamu Yoda in a 2wd Proton Satria Neo. “It was a rather nervous event for me as I was concern on finishing the event and not doing any damage to the rented rally car” said Hayashi when he arrived back at the finish.

Missing from the list was Sri Lankan driver Dinesh Deheragoda who retired on Sunday afternoon after an alternator belt broke resulting in an overheating engine and no power-steering.

Dinesh Deheragoda, Malaysian Rally 2015EZY Racing driver Mike Young from New Zealand returned to compete on Sunday, after a heavy crash on Stage 1. “The Cusco team did a fantastic job to repair the car and allow us a run on Sunday” said Young.

Sunday night, straight after the ceremonial finish the crews packed the cars in their containers to be shipped to Japan for Rally Hokkaido, 18th to 20th September, Round 5 of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Team MRF target Malaysia

Gaurav Gill, Malaysian Rally 2014The Rally of Malaysia provides some of the toughest stages in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

After winning all three rounds of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) so far this season, the dominant Team MRF squad are eyeing a fourth win at this weekend’s Rally of Malaysia.

Driving Skoda Fabia Super 2000s, Swedish star Pontus Tidemand leads his Indian team-mate, Gaurav Gill, by 34 points, but knows his first visit to Malaysia won’t be easy.

Traditionally, the Rally of Malaysia dishes up temperatures of around 30 degrees, with 95% humidity – something that the young Swede or his co-driver, Emil Exelsson, aren’t at all familiar with.

“The heat will definitely be our worst enemy during the weekend,” Tidemand says.

Jan Kopecky, Malaysian Rally 2014“It is nice for a day on the beach, but when you are not used to these temperatures and you are also trapped in a car with a lot at stake, the challenges you usually face at a rally become even bigger.

“But the will to succeed is there and it will be fun to challenge myself and push my own limits. It becomes even more exciting now that you compete just as much with yourself as you do with your actual competitors.”

Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall were convincing winners in Malaysia last year, so come into this event with plenty of confidence, despite retiring from the previous APRC round in Queensland in June.

“It was unfortunate not to get the result we were after in Queensland, but we had a great battle with Pontus and I’m looking forward to renewing that competition in Malaysia this weekend,” Gill said.

“I have a lot of experience of this event, and that gives me confidence to achieve a good result.”

Tidemand and Gill will face a new challenge in Malaysia, with 2005 APRC champion, Jussi Valimaki, returning to drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. The Finnish star last contested the event in 2007.

Tidemand and Gill’s other main rivals are likely to be New Zealander Mike Young in a Subaru WRX, and Indonesian Subhan Aksa in a Lancer Evo X.

The Rally of Malaysia is widely regarded as the roughest of all APRC events, putting extra strain on not only the drivers and co-drivers, but on the cars they drive over the narrow and twisty stages.

Team MRF’s Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia S2000s have not only been the fastest cars in the APRC in recent seasons, but have also been the strongest and most reliable.

“The Skoda Fabia S2000 is the most successful S2000 car ever, and we are confident the cars and MRF Tyres are up to the task of winning at each event we attend,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said.

“The APRC gives us such diverse conditions that the car needs to be capable of coping with widely varying roads – whether that be that smooth, flowing roads of New Zealand, or the rougher plantation roads in Malaysia.

The event is based in the city of Johor Bahru in western Malaysia, and after a ceremonial start on Friday night, the crews will tackle 14 special stages, totalling 226.56 km, on Saturday and Sunday.

Although the event is generally slower than other APRC rounds, deep ditches on the outside of corners provide an extra challenge for competitors to negotiate.

The Malaysian Rally has been part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship since its inception as a regional rally championship in 1988.

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