APRC Top 10 – No. 2 – Mike Young

Mike Young, Hokkaido Rally 2015At 22 years-old Mike Young might still be considered a Junior driver, but 2015 was the New Zealanders fourth full year in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and after winning a number of FIA titles in two-wheel drive cars, his Japanese based Cusco EZY Racing team decided it was time to promote him to a Group N turbo charged, four-wheel drive Subaru.

Young revelled in the upgrade, quickly on the pace at his home event in New Zealand battling for second with Gill, right up until the last stage and the last corner when a slight off course excursion was enough to drop Young back to third place by a mere 1.9 seconds.

Nevertheless a podium place was a great start to his championship.

Click here to watch Mike Young in action during the 2015 APRC season.

“Third’s an extreme bonus for us, first time in a four-wheel drive and still trying to learn the car I would have been happy for fourth, so third and get to spray some champagne is pretty awesome for us”, Young said at the finish.

Mike Young, Malaysian Rally 2015Skipping New Caledonia, Young’s next event was in Australia and again he out paced his closest opposition to settle into third behind the two MRF Skoda’s. When Gill’s engine let go near the end of the rally, Young was there to slot into second. A great result, further consolidating his position in the championship.

During the mid-year break Young was invited to join the Elite Motor-Sports Academy in New Zealand along with his co-driver Malcolm Read. After an intensive 7 days of rigorous physical, mental and educational training Young came out tops ahead of the other eight contestants.

Following that week of physical training that included hydration and extreme heat testing, Young was perfectly setup for the Malaysian Rally where in-car temperatures are often over 50 degrees celsius and where the Oil Palm plantation stages are narrow and rough. The team got off to a great start in stage one and things were looking good early on; second fastest at the first split, although maybe too fast.

After a long straight Young under-steered off at a right-hander destroying the front left suspension against a steep bank. The Cusco EZY Racing Subaru limped on for a few kilometres, but when Young and Read stopped to attempt repairs they found the jack doesn’t work. It was game over for Leg one, however the team did an amazing job to get the car fixed and running for day two where Young picked up some valuable championship points.

Mike Young, Hokkaido Rally 2015Next up was Cusco’s home event Japan where it was time for redemption. After stage two, Young sat in second place and was subsequently penalised four minutes for leaving refuel late when the car wouldn’t start due to a faulty fuse; possibly a legacy of the Malaysia crash. Young made up for the time loss with a determined drive in atrocious weather conditions fighting his way back to second, winning a stage along the way, and clinching more valuable points.

China was a real test, even on good days with its multiple surfaces. This year the rain added a new challenge, although it turned out to be the least of Young’s problems. The Kiwi duo were third fastest on Friday’s super-special, but they quickly discovered the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru had no power-steering on the San Men Yuan mountain stage, one of the tightest and highest in the championship with 40 uphill hairpins.

Young continued to wrestle his Cusco EZY Racing Subaru through the afternoon stages, including a repeat of San Men Yuan, only to roll on the final test of the day after a combination of exhaustion and heavy steering caught the Kiwi out.

With the help of spectators the pair soon had the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru back on its wheels and although there was some ominous noises coming from the car, it somehow made it back to the service park inside the 30 minute late penalty allowance. With just a three-man service crew, it was a frantic 45 minutes to repair the damage and change the power-steering pump.

With more than half the rally still to run the following day, and still with no power-steering, Young and Read battled through to the finish; one of only three competitors to do so. It was a real team result and the reward was winning the FIA Production Cup title and second overall in the drivers championship. At final service Young said, “I’ve been up four mountains this weekend with no power-steering, even on our roof at one point thinking it was all over, but we never gave up so really happy to make the finish”.

Plans are now underway for Young to compete in the 2016 APRC Championship with the first event kicking off at his local event, New Zealand, in April. To stay up to date with the team over the off-season, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MikeYoungMotorsport

Young’s 2015 APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, EZY Racing, Dunlop, Yoda Rallying, KOS Sunglasses, Verandah Apartments and Sanjay Takale.

Story: apsm.tv

APRC Top 10 – No. 3 – Gaurav Gill

Gaurav Gill, International Rally of Queensland 2015Third place in both the Würth Cup and the drivers’ championship might sound a reasonable achievement, but for former APRC champion Gaurav Gill it represented major disappointment. Certainly, it was a trying season – the Indian ace plagued by problems from the very outset.

He suffered the acute frustration of being caught and passed by his team-mate in New Zealand when his Skoda was suffering from handling problems. There was a glimmer of hope for Gill’s championship and the Würth Rally Cup chances when he won outright in New Caledonia leading from Stage 3 and holding off a challenge from his MRF Skoda team-mates on the undulating dirt roads of this picturesque Pacific Island.

Click here to watch Gaurav Gill’s 2015 APRC season.

However his hopes were dashed at the next event, in Queensland, when — after leading for most of the rally — he was forced to retire not far from the finish with a blown engine. Then, in Malaysia, starting first on the road put him at an immediate disadvantage, as long grass repeatedly blocked the Skoda’s radiators, forcing him to pull-over three times on one stage alone. Second was an OK result considering the circumstances.

Gaurav Gill, International Rally of Queensland 2015Gill arrived in Japan hungry for victory, but unfortunately luck was still against him: On the second stage of the event his Skoda suffered a broken rear driveshaft. With three-wheel drive the Skoda is totally unpredictable and after an off course excursion there was no other option but to retire. From that moment on Gill’s and co-driver Glenn Macneall’s season was over. Any chance of challenging for the championship gone.

At the next event, in China, Gill was over his disappointment and highly motivated to finish the championship on a high. “I really haven’t had a good year this year, so I’m really looking forward to having a good rally” he said at the start.

In the mountains on Stage 3, San Men Yuan, everything was looking good for Gill, he held a 19-second advantage and was driving with confidence, despite the clouds that made visibility difficult. But then his bad luck returned – a puncture turning his lead into a 17-second deficit to his teammate.

Gaurav Gill, Malaysian Rally 2015On the next test, he bounced back, on attack, setting a blinding pace. Once again he was fastest on the stage split times – 11 seconds up after just four and half minutes, but once again it all went wrong for Gill cutting a corner that pitched the Skoda into a multiple roll. Gill was unhurt but the stage stopped when it was discovered Macneall had a broken collar-bone. Thankfully at the finish ceremony the following day, Macneall his arm in a sling, was well enough to accept the prize-money for third place in the Würth Cup.

Gill did finish his season on a high with overall victory on the APRC India Rally, although he was entered in the National Rally not the international Asia Cup category.

In 2016 Gill is expected to return to the APRC driving an MRF Skoda R5.

APRC Top 10 – No. 4 – Hitoshi Takayama

Hitoshi Takayama, Rally China 2015Fourth in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Cup powered Würth was Japanese driver Hitoshi Takayama, who’s main target in 2015 was the FIA Asia Cup and chose the Malaysian Rally as his first ever international event.

Unfortunately Takayama’s international campaign didn’t get off to the ideal start when his Group N Subaru had a major engine problem during shakedown and while his Immens Motorsports team worked all night to fix the engine, Takayama and co-driver Hideki Takeyabu had to walk over the start-ramp on foot.

Click here to watch Hitoshi Takayama’s 2015 APRC season.

Hitoshi Takayama, Malaysian Rally 2015Thankfully the next day their Group N Subaru was back up and running – Takayama quickly on the pace and after the first 3 stages in 4th place. Late in the day Takayma went off the road, probably a result of the late night and dehydration but recovered to eventually finish in 5th place.

With Japan’s Rally Hokkaido next, Takayama was confident he’d be able improve and after Stage 3 was in second place, but lost time on stage 4 with a time consuming puncture, dropping to 11th. The rest of the event was a fight back for Takayama and with a string of second fastest stage times, eventually hauled himself back to 4th overall.

Hitoshi Takayama, Rally China 2015Next up for Takayama was China Rally and as a tarmac specialist was looking forward to the concrete stages. However China turned out to be another wet event, the narrow concrete roads slippery and worse, the gravel sections quickly turning to thick mud. Takayama adapted quickly to the conditions and while others faltered bought his Subaru back to the finish in second place overall.

It’s was a great result considering it was his first international season and even better, shortly after China Rally, when no APRC registered competitors entered India Rally, Takayama was declared the winner of the APRC’s Asia Cup.

Story: Brian Young – apsm.tv

Competitor Update – December 2015

2015 APRC Champions

On behalf of the APRC, I would again like to pass on congratulations to all the 2015 APRC Champions. And also of course to all the other competitors who have once again committed to the challenges of APRC.

A full list of 2015 Champions and the final points situation is available on the APRC website, www.fiaaprc.com

2016 APRC Calendar

  • There is a delay in finalising the calendar for 2016. This is expected to be done early in January 2016
  • The dates for the first 2 rallies, New Zealand 29 April – 1 May and Australia 17 – 19 June, are confirmed
  • Pacific Cup will comprise of New Zealand and Australia
  • Asia Cup will comprise of Malaysia, Japan, China and India
  • Junior Cup will comprise New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Japan

2016 APRC Regulations

The 2016 FIA Regional Rally Regulations (including V4 – APRC) can be found at the following location: http://www.fia.com/Regulations/regulation/fia-regional-rally-championships-117?search_api_views_fulltext=&page=1

Please note the following significant changes in the main body of the regulations:

  • Art 48.2.2
  • Art 51.2.1
  • Please also note the following changes to V4 – APRC (from page 58)
  • Art 1
  • Art 4.2, 4.3, 4.4
  • Art 5.4.2, 5.4.4
  • Art 13.2.6
  • Art 14
  • Art 41.4
  • Art 46.2

If you have any questions on the above changes, please get back to me.

International Rally of Whangarei 2016

  • Rally Guide 1 is available on the rally website www.rallywhangarei.co.nz
  • While retaining many of the features that we have become used to over the last 10 years, 2016 will see the HQ relocated to the Toll Stadium, along with a new service park located adjacent to Toll Stadium.
  • As in previous years, a pre-rally service area will be available at the Northtec facility prior to moving to the rally SP.

Finally, I would like to thank all teams, drivers, co-drivers, competitors and sponsors for their support of APRC in 2015. I trust the experience has been good for you, and I look forward to welcoming you back and working with you again in 2016.

Wishing you all a Safe and Happy Festive Season and better things for 2016.

Ho, ho, ho...

Please feel free to contact me for further information on any of the above items.

Kind regards
Murray Brown
APRC Coordinator

Who Were the Top Ten Drivers this Year

After a typical season of extremes in the 2015 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship one constant through the season has been the stand-out performance of Swedish driver Pontus Tidemand who comprehensively won the FIA APRC Drivers title, the Pacific Cup and a new championship category for 2015 the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Cup powered by Wurth.

The Ten Top drivers APRC TV programme can be viewed on-Line – here’s the story of 10th through to 5th place.

Eugene CreugnetBefore looking at Tidemand’s successful season here’s a run-down of the top drivers in the championship using the points from the Würth Cup, a new competition for 2015 and open to all competitors (registered or unregistered) who compete in the APRC section of each rally.

In this part we look at tenth through sixth and Equal tenth are two drivers from the Pacific, Eugene Creugnet from New Caledonia and Eli Evans from Australia, both with 20 points.

Creugnet entered his home event in a much used Mitsubishi Evo 9 and hounded the international drivers in their high powered Skoda S2000’s. Although he got as high as third spot at one point, Creugnet eventually had to settle for 4th overall after one of the stand-out drives of the event, especially given the age and power of the car.

Eli EvansEvans 20 points came from a great result at his home event the International Rally of Queensland.

Pushing the limits and sometimes beyond, Evans had his Citroen DS3 into third place after two stages, but with only two-wheel drive not even Evan’s expertise could keep the faster turbo powered four-wheel drive cars at bay. Evan’s only conceded one place though finishing 4th place overall.

Genki Takeuchi, 2015In ninth place was Genki Takeuchi from Japan who had a one-off run in the Malaysian Rally for the Cusco Racing Team. Takeuchi arrived into the heat and humidity of Malaysia with no international experience and after a cautious start, where he was just 7th after the first stage gradually increased his pace through the event to bring his Group N Subaru home in an excellent 4th place.

The Malaysian Rally was the debut event for some new high-powered Mitsubishi Lancers built by the Chinese Wan Yu Rally Team. The team had flown in former APRC champion Jussi Valimaki to drive the lead car, but when the Finnish driver went out early with turbo problems team owner and driver Fan Fan was there to take over the challenge. A regular in the Malaysian Rally Championship, Fan Fan used his knowledge of the weather conditions and stages through the Oil Palm Plantations to secure a podium place for the team, finishing third and 23 points in the Würth Rally Cup.

Atushi Masumura, 2015Atushi Masamura was the only non-registered drivers to tackle two Asia-Pacific Rally Championship events and he put himself on the board with four points in Australia, a country where the Japanese driver has done most of his international rallying. On his home event in Hokkaido Japan, when the rains came down on Day One, Masamura was in his element holding off the opposition as the conditions deteriorated, finishing the leg in 2nd. When the rain finally stopped on the last day, Masamura slipped from second to third overall but it was still enough to scoop 24 Wurth points and take him to 7th on the table.

Subhan Aksa, 2015Indonesia’s Subhan Aksa has a lot of experience in the rally world including a couple of years in the World Rally Championship and while he only entered two events this year he scored big time in both rallies. Driving a Group N Mitsubishi prepared by Team Ralliart New Zealand, Aksa got his campaign off to a good start with 4th place on the fast roads in New Zealand, even though along the way he had some gearbox problems that prevented him from challenging for a podium place.

The next event for Aksa was Australia and like everyone he found the unpredictable conditions at Rally Queensland a real challenge. Starting 4th on Day 2 Aksa had fuel starvation problems and then fended off the hard charging Evans to finish Queensland in 3rd place and 6th in the Wurth Cup points.

Of all the drivers entered in the 2015 APRC New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud was the most experienced starting his career over 40 years ago in a BMW 2002 and since then driven a huge variety of cars. No surprises then when Leyraud turned up at the first round in New Zealand with a Skoda Fabia S2000.

Jean-Louis Leyraud and Scott Beckwith, 2015New Zealand went according to plan, Leyraud finishing in 5th place, the priority to learn the car in readiness for his home event in New Caledonia. Leyraud is a legend on the Pacific Island and with his years of experience has an intermit knowledge of the roads and conditions. Leyraud was in his element taking the fight to his MRF team-mates on the northern roads than can only be described as fast flowing roller-coasters.

In second place after the third stage, Leyraud had to give way to his MRF team-mates eventually finishing third and on the podium in front of his home crowd.

Next up for Leyraud was Rally Queensland, Australia and after two events in the Skoda and with increased competition, time to up the pace. Leyraud had a big moment near the end of day 1 when the Skoda landed heavily after one of the many big jumps, taking off the front left guard in the process, but no time lost. Leyraud wrapped up his APRC campaign with 5th place in Australia and used the opportunity to make a surprise announcement, “I’m going to retire, I can change my mind, but you have stop one day”.

Hitoshi Takayama and Gaurav Gill finished 4th and 3rd respectively, they are the next part of our review of 2015 APRC.

2016 APRC Brochure Out Now

The 2016 APRC brochure is now available for download here.

With events held in China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia, and TV coverage in those countries plus Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, the APRC overs incredible exposure to a huge audience in the Asia-Pacific region.