Competitor Update – 19 December 2016

On behalf of the APRC, I would again like to pass on congratulations to all the 2016 APRC Champions. And also of course to all the other competitors who have once again committed to the challenges of APRC rallies during the year.

A full list of 2016 Champions and the final points situation is available here.

2017 APRC Calendar

There is a delay with having the calendar for 2017 confirmed by the FIA. This is expected to be published soon.
The calendar for adoption is:

  • New Zealand 28-30 April
  • Australia 26-28 May
  • China 7-9 July
  • Malaysia 11-13 August
  • Japan 15-17 September
  • India 24-26 November

New APRC Working Group Executive

At the recent Working Group meeting in Malaysia, there was a new executive elected.
Mr Vicky Chandhok (IND) is the new President, Mr Colin Trinder (AUS) as vice President and the two executive members being H.H. Tengku Shaharin Aku Bakar (MYS) and Mr Willard Martin (NZL)

As more information is available early in 2017 I will keep you all updated.


Finally, I would like to thank all teams, drivers, co-drivers, competitors, sponsors and organisers for their support of APRC in 2016.

I trust the experience has been good for you, and I look forward to welcoming you back and working with you all again in 2017.

I will be in New Zealand until approx 10 January. If you need to contact me urgently I can be contacted on my NZ mobile, +64 21 464 921 or on email otherwise.

Wishing you all a Safe and Happy Festive Season and brighter things for 2017.

Sanjay Takale looks ahead to 2017

Sanjay Takale, India Rally 2016Pune: Chikamagalur provided perfect setting for the season finale of the 2016 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship—twisty course, narrow roads and gravel-tarmac combination—all adding to the challenge that Pune rally driver Sanjay Takale faced with utmost guts and patience in probably his last ride in Subaru Impreza WRX car.

The Cusco Racing driver, who has been driving Subaru for last few seasons after graduating from Malaysian-make Proton in which he won the 2013 FIA APRC Production Cup title, is readying for a bespoke season in 2017.

“I may actually do only the Asian rounds of APRC in 2017. I want to focus on getting miles on a new R5 car that I intend to acquire very soon,” Takale told Sakal Times in an interview after the Chikamagalur round.

“Testing and more testing is the only way out to catch up with the competition. They have been driving R5 now for a few seasons, but there is no reason why I cannot catch up with them,” said Takale of Gaurav Gill, the overall champion and about the Team MRF-Skoda.

Though Asia-Pacific region offers diverse terrains—from superfast white gravel roads in Whangarei New Zealand, to desert in China on the Mongolian border and slippery up and down course through the palm plantations of Johor Bharu Malaysia—it is Europe that provides competition in terms of fellow rally drivers.

Sanjay Takale, India Rally 2016“The competitors are less in the Asia-Pacific region and if I have to improve and think about joining the World Rally Championship in a couple of years then I need to put in miles in Europe, where the majority of worldclass rallies take place,” Takale said.

It didn’t matter where he finished in the FIA APRC Coffee Day India Rally, but Takale wanted to prove it to those who doubted his driving skills. As India was hosting the APRC rally for the first time in 10 years after Pune debuted in 2006, it was but natural for him to try his hand in the Indian championship too apart from taking part in the APRC.

Most of the placings were already decided in the APRC coming into the Coffee Day India Rally and even a ‘no finish’ by any competitors placed above would not have made much difference to the overall standings.

“In that situation, the best I could do was to finish the APRC rally and try and compete in the Indian Rally Championship meant for cars with 2000cc and more,” said Takale.

There was an outright opposition to Takale’s entry as he would be in a FIA homologated Subaru Impreza car, but after much deliberations his entry was allowed in IRC. When Takale finally won, he was almost 12 minutes ahead of the competition, showing complete domination over the drivers in Volkswagen Polo Rs and Mitsubishi Cedias.

“I just wanted to be part of the championship since it was run in my homeland. Winning was a prize that I deserved given that over the years there were many who doubted my commitment and caliber,” said Takale, who drove with Japanese navigator Noriko Takeshita through the 2016 season.

The former Raid de Himalaya champion has almost completely stopped competing in domestic championship, but for a few one-off events.

“Like in 2016, I may not take part in the Desert Storm or Raid de Himalaya. I have more bigger goals and I wanted to follow them seriously,”said Takale who also had the invitation to take part in the 4x4Fury in Dambuk, Aurunachal Pradesh, scheduled from December 15 to 18.

With the WRC as a target, the year 2017 will be crucial to get as much miles as possible in the R5 car that Takale is planning to procure from Sweden. Well-known rally driving coach, former British Champion and a WRC veteran Graham Middleton, will be providing the logistics support to Takale’s European excursions.

“The car will be at Middleton’s rally school in Wales and I plan to go to Europe frequently and put in miles through different courses. Nothing has been finalized as yet, but this is roughly the plan which will be sealed at the start of the year,” said Takale.

Story: Kirti Patil – Sakal Times

Young finishes APRC with Podium

Mike Young, India Rally 2016New Zealanders Mike Young and co-driver Malcolm finished their FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) season with an excellent second place at a very tough and torturous India Rally while also enjoying multiple APRC championship class success.

Based in the coffee plantations near Chikkamagaluru, 240 kilometres west of Bangalore, the event had a massive following of fans who had come to watch newly crowned APRC champion Gaurav Gill win on home soil. As one of the few international drivers Young was popular with the locals, and was therefore kept busy prior to the event with pre-event presentations and press conferences.

With the formalities finished and the event underway reality struck early with a down on power engine caused by the local fuel, while the tight and twisty roads soon started to cause over-heating brakes.

“The brakes get real hot and there is very little time between stages to allow them to cool down, so it was a real issue on the first morning. On the third stage and the first corner, my foot went straight to the floor. Luckily it was only 50 metres from the start and we managed to get around on the handbrake,” said Young.

Mike Young, India Rally 2016With the initial problems Young was down in fourth place, but was then was first on the scene to Germany driver Fabian Kreim’s accident that blocked the road, causing the stage to be cancelled. Once the rally continued and even though Young was struggling with a down on power engine and over-heating brakes, he was in the right spot to take over second place in the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru.

Young looked to have the position in the bag until a heavy landing over a jump was the possible cause of power steering failure on the final morning. Fortunately the Cusco EZY Racing team were able to continue, thanks to Young’s quick thinking and experienced co-driver.

Co-driver Malcolm Read made road-side repairs to the Subaru, and despite needing medical treatment for a burnt hand due to the repairs, his efforts were enough to keep the pair in the event which was the ultimate goal.

Mike Young and Sanjay Takale, Rally India 2016“Given all the challenges we had with the brakes, the engine and with the power steering I’m really happy just to finish, let alone finish second. It’s very very tough here as the roads are so tight and twisty – its tough on the car and the team,” said a relieved Young at the finish.

“Also have to say a huge thanks to Malcolm [Read] for keeping the car going. It’s not the first time he’s been able to fix the car and keep us in the event. Plus of course my Cusco team who have kept the car running all year and made this all possible. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

With the six rounds of the APRC now complete, Young and Read have managed to secure the following positions, adding six more trophies to their already impressive collection:

  • 1st Production Cup [drivers + co-drivers]
  • 1st Junior Cup [drivers + co-drivers]
  • 2nd Teams Trophy [Cusco Racing]
  • 3rd Asia Pacific Rally Championship overall [drivers + co-drivers]
  • 3rd Asia Cup [drivers + co-drivers]
  • 3rd Asia-Pacific Rally Cup Powered By Würth

Young now takes a break over the Christmas period and aims to compete again in 2017.

To keep up to date visit the Mike Young Motorsport Facebook page.

Young’s campaign is supported by Cusco, EZY Racing, Dunlop, Dreams India, Yoda Rally, Verandah Apartments and KOS Sunglasses.

Gaurav Gill Completes Perfect Season

Gaurav Gill, India Rally 2016Gaurav Gill from India, had won all five APRC rallies this year and badly wanted to win at home and in front of his huge number of passionate fans on the sixth and final APRC event for the year, the Coffee Day India Rally.

While his team-mate Fabian Kreim from Germany took the initial lead on Friday’s super-special, when the event moved into the twisty narrow roads of the nearby coffee estates Gill stamped his authority quickly, moving into a commanding lead that he held onto to the finish.

“Undoubtedly, this is my most satisfying win if only because it was achieved in India and here in Chikkamagaluru. Coming into this Rally with five wins out of five, there was pressure on me and high expectations. More importantly, I hope that my wins and the record make motorsport more popular in India and also attract manufacturers and sponsors.

MRF Skoda, India Rally 2016“It was an extremely difficult and technical rally because of the narrow, twisting route with hundreds of corners which required,” said Gill who celebrated the rare feat with his young family.

Gill’s task of winning in India was made slightly easier on Stage 4 when Kreim crashed out and blocked the road. Kreim explained “We came over a crest and into a left-hander. I think I was carrying too much speed into the corner and crashed into the stone wall on the outside. Unfortunate, but that is the nature of motorsport”.

Mike Young, India Rally 2016With Kreim out of contention Cusco driver Yuya Sumiyama took over second place but soon he was in trouble too with a lack of brakes in his Group N Subaru. Unfortunately, the lack of stopping power eventually caught the Japanese driver out and he went off-road and out of the event.

While New Zealander Mike Young was struggling with a down on power engine and over-heating brakes he was in the right spot to take over second place in the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru. Young looked to have the position in the bag until he struck further problems when his power-steering failed on the final morning. Some road-side repairs by co-driver Malcolm Read restored the power steering sufficiently to keep the pair in the event and onto their second place.

Sanjay Takale, India Rally 2016‘Given all the challenges we had with the brakes, the engine and with the power steering I’m really happy just to finish, let alone finish second. It’s very very tough here as the roads are so tight and twisty – its tough on the car and the driver’, said a relieved Young at the finish.

Coming home in third place on the podium was dream come true for Indian driver Sanjay Takale. Team-mate to Young and also driving a Cusco EZY Racing Subaru the Pune based driver was equally surprised how tough the event was ‘It was very challenging to drive these stages. We have been driving at high speeds in New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan, while these roads in the coffee plantations are more technical and you need a lot of precision’. Takale also won the India Rally Championship round to add to his trophies.

APRC results

1. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall, Team MRF, 3hrs, 39mins, 37.9secs
2. Mike Young / Malcolm Read, Cusco Racing, 03:51:10.3
3. Sanjay Takale / Noriko Takeshita, Cusco Racing, 04:03:51.0.

Gill on verge of historic clean APRC sweep

Gaurav Gill, India Rally 2016Gaurav Gill of Team MRF is poised for an unprecedented clean sweep of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship as he surged to a commanding and unassailable lead at the end of Leg-1 in the Coffee Day India Rally here today.

Gill (co-driver Glenn Macneall), who took rally driving to a level not seen before in India, ended the day with a handsome lead of seven minutes, 33.6 seconds over second-placed Michael Young (Malcolm Read) of Cusco Racing after team-mate Fabian Kreim (Frank Christian) crashed out early in the day.

Should 35-year old Delhi-based Gill, who has already sealed the 2016 APRC driver’s title his second since 2013, win on Monday when the Coffee Day Rally, concludes, he will be the only competitor to achieve the rare feat of winning all the rounds of a FIA Rally championship en route to annexing the crown.

Fabian Kreim, India Rally 2016The day clearly belonged to Gill who drove the MRF Skoda Fabia R5 with aplomb, negotiating the tight and twisty estate roads with rare mastery, especially in the unforgiving corners that flowed one into another.

“We had no problems with our car as such. The speeds were quite slow due to the nature of the route, but still it was quite challenging. Though we have a good lead, the R5 is built for speed and I have to be in my rhythm. So, there is nothing like easing off. May be, I can drive 97 per cent instead of 100,” said Gill

Mike Young, India Rally 2016While Young was struggling with loss of power and over-heating brakes in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Kreim met with a misfortune early in the day when he crashed his R5 into a stone on a left-hander.

“We came over a crest and into a left-hander. I think I was carrying too much speed into the corner and crashed into the stone. Unfortunate, but that is the nature of motorsport. I will be driving tomorrow and hope to score some leg points,” said Kreim who won the German championship recently.

Placed third in the APRC was Pune-based Sanjay Takale (Nokiro Takeshita) of Cusco Racing while team-mate Yuya Sumiyama (Takahiro Yasui) had over-heating brakes and then went off-road on Stage 7.

Sanjay Takale, India Rally 2016In sharp contrast to Gill’s absolute dominance, only seven seconds separated Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) of Mahindra Adventure and Team Yokohama 2K’s Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai) in the battle for the INRC Overall honours in the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship that was run over six Special Stages today.

Kadur also led the INRC 2000 class where he was ahead of Dr Bikku Babu (Milen George) by over three minutes.

APRC Results (provisional, after Leg-1):
1. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall, Team MRF, 2hrs, 42mins, 32.8secs
2. Mike Young / Malcolm Read, Cusco Racing, 02:50:06.4
3. Sanjay Takale / Noriko Takeshita, Cusco Racing, 03:00:06.5

Takale on a High Heading into Home Event

Mike Young and Sanjay Takale, Rally India 2016Pune-based Sanjay Takale is hoping to finish his APRC season off in the best possible way with a top finish at his home event.

The Coffee Day India Rally will take place this weekend 3-5th December in the coffee plantations near Chikmagalur, in the southern state of Karnataka.

After his best-ever result in last month’s Malaysian Rally where he finished 2nd in APRC and was the out-right winner of the Malaysian Rally Championship round, Takale is looking to the India Rally to further consolidate his position in the overall championship.

“I am very excited to be rallying in India. I can’t wait to show everyone the car, the team, and to also show all the other APRC competitors what a fantastic place India is. It will be a great event I’m sure,” he said.

Sanjay Takale,, Rally India 2016This weekend Takale has his eye on the FIA Production Cup, a category where he is currently 2nd overall and only 13 points off the class leader, his CUSCO EZY Racing team-mate Mike Young.

For Young, it’s the first time in India for the 23-year old from New Zealand and he’s looking forward to the challenge ‘We’ve done a lot of events together as team-mates so it’s nice to be in Sanjay’s home country. It’s a totally new event, new roads and terrain for me but we have a good car and good team so let’s see’, said Young before the start.