Fabian Kreim Steps Up for Skoda

Fabian Kreim, 2015 Rallye LitermontŠKODA Motorsport will return to the International Rally of Whangarei, the opening round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, with a two car team of ŠKODA Fabia R5 rallycars for German driver Fabian Kreim and Indian rally star Gaurav Gill. ŠKODA drivers have dominated the International Rally of Whangarei and the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) since 2012 taking victory the last four years running.

23-year-old German rally ace Fabian Kreim will make his first visit to New Zealand with the ŠKODA MRF Team. Kreim is the current driver for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team in the German Rally Championship (DRM) where he won five races and finished second in the 2015 championship. Kreim also has experience in the World Rally Championship, finishing eighth in his WRC 2 class debut at last year’s Rally Germany. The 23-year-old will be partnered by experienced co-driver Frank Christian in the ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Fabian Kreim and Frank Christian“I am absolutely delighted to be able to take on the challenge of the APRC with ŠKODA,” said Kreim. “All the rallies are obviously completely new to me, and I will have a lot to learn. However, I hope I can establish myself among the front-runners and challenge for race wins as quickly as possible at these international events.”

Indian rally driver Gaurav Gill also lines up for the ŠKODA MRF Team. The 2013 APRC champion and winner of the 2014 International Rally of Whangarei has been a regular visitor to New Zealand and is renowned for his attacking driving style. Gill will contest his first event at the wheel of the team’s new ŠKODA Fabia R5 rallycar and will be on hand to offer valuable advice to his new team-mate Fabian Kreim on the unique Whangarei conditions.

ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek is excited by the teams 2016 driver lineup as it seeks to continue its unstoppable run of Driver, Co-driver and Manufacturer titles since 2012. “We want to continue our winning run in the APRC and are delighted to have a talented young driver at the wheel of the Fabia R5, in the form of Fabian Kreim. We are giving him a great chance to continue his development and gain valuable experience on gravel. The APRC is ideal for this. The rallies in the populous Asia-Pacific region, with our core market of China, are particularly important to ŠKODA. For this reason, we want to be at our best again with the experienced and successful ŠKODA MRF team.”

The International Rally of Whangarei is the opening round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. The event commences on the evening of Friday 29th April with the rally start in central Whangarei where fans can meet the cars and stars up close before they attack two passes of the night time Super Special Stage at Pohe Island. Leg one continues on Saturday heading as far north as Kawakawa for eight special stages on the fast flowing cambered roads the rally is famous for, while Sundays final leg heads south of Whangarei for a further six stages. A total of 275 kilometres of competitive stages make-up the event.

Competitor Update – 29 March 2016

  • We have received information from the FASC (organiser of China Rally) regarding China Rally 2016. You will already be aware that the rally venue will be changed from Longyou, to ZHANGYE.
  • Because of the change of venue, I can advise that the local government of Zhangye has agreed to pay the logistics costs for the movement of team containers to and from Zhangye. This applies to international teams only.
  • This is a significant offer and will benefit all teams going to Zhangye.
  • We are waiting for final details, once these are available I will pass them on.
  • A reminder that registrations and entries for Rally Whangarei close on Monday 4 April.

Any questions, please get back to me.

Murray Brown
APRC Coordinator
+63 908 310 5888

Competitor Update – 22 March 2016

International Rally of Whangarei

  • For clarification, the rally hotel known as the Kingsgate Hotel, now trades under the name Distinction Whangarei. Details can be found on their new website http://www.distinctionhotelswhangarei.co.nz/
  • Plans for team containers to be cleared and delivered to Northtec, Whangarei are in place. Teams involved in MPI quarantine inspections will be advised of location and date for this to happen. This is expected to be Thursday 21 April or Friday 22 April in Auckland.
  • Team containers are expected to be available at Northtec pre-event service area from approx midday on Saturday 23 April
  • All foreign registered cars are required to go through a WOF inspection before being issued with approval to drive on NZ roads. This is highlighted in RG1 (page 9) Please contact me directly if you have any questions about this. I will be on site in Whangarei to assist with this.
  • Third party insurance is required for all vehicles, please refer to RG1 (pages 13 &and 14)
  • A reminder that the Rally HQ and service park will be located at Toll Stadium, 51 Okara Drive, Whangarei.

2016 FIA APRC regulations

  • Please note that there is an updated version of the 2016 regulations, available on the FIA and APRC websites
  • These were updated on 2 March 2016 to correct some small errors. Specifically the number of minutes applied for penalties under V4 – Article 41.4
  • I remind you of the changes to V4 Article 46 – restart after retirement/Rally 2. The intention is to have as many competitors as possible to finish the rally, with penalties imposed for missed stages.
  • Article 46 applies to those cars and crews that restart the rally after missing, or failing to complete, a special stage or stages.

As always, any questions on any of the above, please contact me directly.

Murray Brown
APRC Coordinator
+63 908 310 5888

Japanese Line Up for Whangarei

The 2016 International Rally of Whangarei will welcome four Japanese teams to compete in the first round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Cusco Racing, Ahresty Rally Team, Cherish Rally Team, and Astronaut Rally Racing are currently shipping cars and equipment to New Zealand, especially for the event starting 29th April.

Mike Young, Rally Hokkaido 2015Cusco Racing, by far the most experienced Japanese rally team in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) will enter the series for a tenth season and will run Subaru Imprezas built in-house for their international drivers, Mike Young from New Zealand and Sanjay Takale from India.

The Cusco Racing team have won numerous FIA titles including the APRC’s Asia Cup four times, the APRC Production Cup three times and for the past two years have finished second overall in the driver’s championship with Young and co-driver Malcolm Read.

Ahresty Rally TeamLooking to add to their international experience is the Ahresty Rally Team with driver Fuyuhiko Takahashi and co-driver Shigeru Ikeda entered in a Subaru Impreza GRB. Ahresty Corporation is a large manufacturer of automotive parts and their team has a long history in Japanese Rally Championship events. Lead driver Takahashi has taken part in Rally Japan five times and Rally Hokkaido eight times with his best result being 5th overall in last year’s Rally Hokkaido. Ahresty and Takahashi made their international debut in the International Rally of Queensland last year and head to Whangarei aiming to gain more international rally experience.

The Cherish Rally Team is returning to New Zealand after driver Makoto Kawahara enjoyed his first experience of Whangarei’s gravel roads. The Japanese driver successfully competed and finished 2013 Rally Whangarei with co-driver Sae Kitagawa and the Cherish Rally Team, managed by former APRC Champion Katsu Taguchi, a regular competitor on New Zealand roads. ‘Cherish’ is a team and rally shop owned by Taguchi’s father Seiichiro Taguchi who gained a large following of Kiwi rally fans while competing in the World Championship Rally of New Zealand in the eighties and nineties.

Makoto KawaharaWhile neither Katsu nor Seiichiro Taguchi is able to be in New Zealand for the 2016 event, Kawahara will have the benefit of experienced co-driver Osamu Yoda to guide him. Kawahara will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 carrying a colour scheme based on Peaches and Muscat grapes that his home region of Okayama in the southern part of Japan’s Honshu Island, is famous for.

Tatsuo Koizumi has also experienced the New Zealand roads, competing in the WRC Rally of New Zealand in the mid-nineties. Koizumi is the CEO of an electrical technology company called ‘Astronaut Co., Ltd’ and as a passionate rally fan decided on his return to the sport, to form his own team ‘Astronaut Rally Racing’. With fond memories of the New Zealand roads Koizumi has opted to enter International Rally of Whangarei in a Subaru Impreza GRB, prepared by Streetlife and coordinated by Prolinks.

Kouzumi’s co-driver for this event is Takumi Takahashi who competed in the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally Championship alongside Hiroshi Asakura, the pairing unfortunately experiencing a large crash in their Subaru Impreza at Rally Whangarei.

The four strong entry of Japanese Teams is warmly welcomed to the 2016 event by Willard Martin, Chairman of the International Rally of Whangarei organising committee. “New Zealand has enjoyed a long history of hosting Japanese competitors at our International events and we are delighted to welcome the four teams to Whangarei next month.”

The International Rally of Whangarei starts with an opening ceremony on the evening of 29th April on the Te Matau ā Pohe bridge followed by two days of competition, comprising over 275 km of fast gravel stages to the north and south of Whangarei.

Source: Event Release

Cusco Expand in 2016

Sanjay Takale, Malaysian Rally 2014Cusco Racing’s parent company Carrosser announced their motorsport plans for 2016 with a varied programme that includes the FIA ​​Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), the All Japan Rally Championship (JRC), Super endurance series, TGR 86 / BRZ race activities, the All Japan Dirt Trial Championships and Gymkhana Championship.

In the APRC Carrosser will continue support for EZY Racing’s driver Mike Young from New Zealand and after a year off, Sanjay Takale from India will return to the sport. Both drivers will register for the whole six round championship, driving Cusco built Subaru GRB-WRX’s with support from Dunlop tyres.

Mike Young, Rally Thailand 2013The team will be joined at the Asia Cup rounds by Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyama who will drive a newly developed AP4 car based on a Toyota Vitz, with a 1600cc turbo charged engine and a Carrosser built 4WD system. Cusco Racing ran a standard TRD version of the Vitz in 2013, driven by Young, winning the Asia Cup and Production Cup.

“With the phasing out of Group N from international competition, we see the AP4 cars as the future of the sport for our region”, said Carrosser President Tsutomu Nagase.

Sanjay Takale, Rally Queensland 2014The AP4 regulations were approved by the FIA and APRC after MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) collaboratively developed the technical regulations based on a new generation of 4WD turbocharged rally cars eligible for competition in both National and International events within the Asia Pacific region.

The philosophy of AP4 is to establish a set of technical articles that allow rally teams to build locally, or buy cars of parallel design from overseas such as Maxi cars, that will be of a similar specification and performance to each other and to that of the FIA R5 / S2000 Category cars, but at significantly lower cost.

Source: Team Release