Veiby holds off charging Gill

On his first attempt rallying in the Far East and his first rally after the massive crash in Finland 2 weeks ago, Ole defeated the odds to comfortably win the rally by 4 minutes ahead of teammate Gaurav Gill. With the win Ole further extends to his lead in the championship points table.

6 stages made up leg 2 of the rally covering a total of 77km. The stages were damp and slightly muddy. Although the overcast sky threaten for a massive down but the rain held on till the end of the rally. In other words, perfect condition for rallying in Malaysia.

After the problem he had yesterday Gaurav Gill drove his MRF Skoda Fabia R5 like he stole it. He battled all day to take 2nd spot from Jari Ketomaa all day and finally took the 2nd spot on the last stage SS14 by a mere 18 second.

Impressive bit driving from Jari Ketomaa to fend off the advancing Guarau Gill but indeed the Skoda R5 is the faster car. He however is pleased with the pace of the cars and looking forward for the next round in Japan.

Gaurav Gill, International Rally of Johor 2017
Michael Young scored his best result in recent years when he finished 4th. Yuya Sumiyama rounded up the top on his first drive with the Cuscu Fabia R5. The car requires a different technique to drive flat out, so rather than going for podium positions and risk going off the road, Yuya maintained a constant learning pace to the finish the rally.
Sunjay Takale, International Rally of Johor 2017
Abhilash PG was the only retirement of the rally. He retired with gearbox failure after SS10. Leg 2 restartes Sanjey Takale and Robert Blomberg finish the leg 2 in 6th and 7th respectively. Both Sanjey and Robert gained valuable experience from the rally. Sanjey learning to drive his new Mirage R5 and Robert learning to drive in the humid conditions of the rally.The prize giving ceremony was held at the Johor Circuit a later in the afternoon the drizzling rain witness by a huge crowd of motorsports enthusiast.

Rally Hokkaido is the next stop of the APRC. It will be held from the 15th to 17th of September.

Final Results
1. Ole Christian Veiby, MRF Team Skoda, 03:02:39.1
2. Gaurav Gill, MRF Team Skoda, +4:41.7
3. Jari Ketomaa, MParts Mitsubishi Mirage, +18.7
4. Robert Blomberg, MParts Mitsubishi Mirage, +2:18:09.7
Source: Event Release

Veiby Leads in Tough Conditions

The extreme heat and humidity for today’s 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the Tai Tak Plantation here was a challenge for both international, as well as local drivers.

Friday’s heavy downpour in parts of Johor, coupled with today’s hot weather, provided a muddy terrain, making it a very challenging rally for most participants.

It was a true test of man and machine as competitors tackle seven stages over 158 kilometers. The longest stage of the day was the 31.67km Tai Tak-Pipeline stage that was run twice.

“The heat and humidity was extreme and I had difficulty adapting to it and I went off the road,” said Mparts Robert Bloomberg.

Johor’s rally stage has always been known to be fast, flowing and technically challenging routes, with high humidity of more than 80 per cent, and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius with heavy rainfalls and muddy terrain.

Gaurav Gill, International Rally of Johor 2017
Among the top drivers, Ole Christian Veiby of Norway, described the muddy terrain as being a very challenging rally. “It was a difficult rally for me, I went off a couple of times and dented both sides of my car. I was lucky to get away with it” said the Team MRF driver.

Despite that, reigning APRC champion Gaurav Gill of India could not maintain his overall position after he hit a tree stump which badly damaged his steering. “I hit a tree during the Tai Tak Plantation during the second stage and can’t fight for overall standings,” he said.

For Finland’s Jari Ketomaa, the demanding Tai Tak Plantation terrain took a toll on his car during the early stages of the rally. “The plantation’s terrain was difficult and I broke my car’s driveshaft twice. However, I managed to finish the race with only using two-wheel drive,” said the MParts AB driver.

Japan’s Cusco Racing drivers Yuya Sumiyama and Michael Young were more cautious due to the terrain conditions. “I’m still learning the Skoda R5,” said Sumiyama. Indian driver P.G. Abilash however said that the rally was okay for him despite finding the terrain slippery.

Gaurav Gill, International Rally of Johor 2017
Leg 2 of the The International Rally of Johor 2017 resumes with another loop of 6 stages in Kota Tinggi.

Source: Event Release

New Cars Spice Up Malaysia

With the title fight the most exciting for years the third round of the 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) will really heat up this weekend as the competitors’ line-up for Malaysia’s Rally of Johor, an event known for its extreme weather, heat and humidity.

After reigning champion Gaurav Gill won the opening round in New Zealand with MRF team-mate Ole Christian Veiby finishing second, the Norwegian fought back with a victory at Rally Canberra in Australia. In the championship standings Veiby is now leading, but just two points ahead of Gill.

While he has no experience of the Malaysian conditions Veiby may have a slight edge, fresh from the intense competition of the WRC he will also have the use of a near new Skoda R5 that was delivered to the MRF Racetorque prior to the event.

Discount Gill at your peril though as for a start the heat in Malaysia is similar to his home in Delhi India, while the 35-year-old and last year’s winner has vast experience of the narrow ditch-lined plantation tracks. It’s going to be an interesting battle.

Gaurav Gill and Stephane Prevot, International Rally of Johor 2017
And while the MRF drivers lead the points race, Finland’s Jari Ketomaa and Robert Blomberg from Sweden are starting to threaten the Skodas as the MPart Mitsubishi engineers find more speed and performance from their AP4 Mirages. The team and Ketomaa started their APRC campaign in Malaysia last year, so with plenty of data and experience they will hopefully be on or near the pace of the R5 Skodas.

A third car was sent from MPart’s base in Sweden to Malaysia for experienced APRC Indian driver Sanjay Takale, however its journey was severely delayed and the race is on to prepare the Mitsubishi for the start. With plans to compete in Japan and his home event in India, Takale may end up using Rally of Johor to sort and learn his new car.

Cusco Skoda, International Rally of Johor 2017
Japan’s Cusco Racing makes a welcome return to the APRC with New Zealander Mike Young in a Group N Subaru Impreza. His Japanese team-mate Yuya Sumiyama was entered in a similar car but at the last minute a deal was done by the team to buy the MRF Skoda that Veiby used for the Pacific rounds.

There was an excited buzz around the team at pre-rally testing with Sumiyama quickly on the pace of the Skoda’s and Mitsubishi. Given his experience of the Malaysian conditions and third overall here last year in a Group N car ‘Sumi’ may well spring a surprise.

Adding to the line-up of drivers from India is PG Abilash who will drive a Group N Subaru Impreza, a car that featured in the 2009 Malaysian Rally when it was driven by Australian Cody Crocker who went on to become the APRC champion that year.

With Gill and Veiby running MRF Tyres, the Mitsubishi’s of Ketomaa, Bloomberg and Takale on Michelins, Young supported by Dunlop Japan and Sumiyama using Yokohama tyres, the battle of the tyre brands will add a further element of interest to the event.

Having the best car and tyres will come to nothing though if you can’t handle the heat and humidity of the Malaysian plantations. When temperatures inside the cars often exceed 50Cs it’s the one event where a cool-suit (ice cooled water pumped through a special shirt warn under driver’s overalls) and plenty of water and mineral drinks is essential to beat dehydration.

After a super special stage gets the rally underway on Friday evening, the Rally of Johor will see competitors tackle seven stages over 158 kilometres on Saturday. The longest stage of the day is the 31.67km Tai Tak – Pipeline stage, that will be run twice. On Sunday, a further six stages will face competitors, over a competitive distance of 76.24 kilometres.

With hot and humid conditions expected, and the high chance of torrential rain, the event will be a real test of man, machine and tyres – something all the drivers and teams relish.

Heat is on for Young

Impressive Kiwi youngster Mike Young will be back behind the wheel of a rally car for the first time in nearly nine months as he prepares for the International Rally of Johor in Malaysia this weekend.

Young has confirmed a drive at two rounds of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship with Japanese team Cusco and will line-up in Malaysia and Rally Hokkaido in Japan next month.

“Cusco have been really loyal to us over the last few years so it is good to be back with them,” Young told The Herald. “It is also good to be back rallying again – I think it has been about nine months of being out of a rally car so looking forward to it more than I usually am.

“We did do the Canberra Rally but we crashed quite badly in testing so we didn’t even get to do the rally.”

The 24-year-old bucked the trend with how he launched his rallying career, opting to look overseas first rather than the domestic route.

Mike Young, Rally Malaysia 2016
“Most people do a few club rallies and then do the national championship for a while before looking to go overseas,” Young said.

“I did most of my rallying in the first year in Malaysia of all places. It was a lot cheaper for sure. It meant we were in front of much bigger audiences and then we went to Japan and they obviously love their rallying there.

“In that way it has been really good. Doing international events is good for the CV. I do wish I could more on the national championship though.”

Mike Young, Rally Malaysia 2016
Young had been expected to compete in the next round the domestic championship but withdrew as he worked on plans to get into the WRC event in Australia later this year instead.

“I definitely do want to do more because those rallies are so competitive these days,” he explained. “The Goldrush Coromandel Rally for example – there are about 12 different people that could win that rally. The New Zealand Rally Championship is so strong with the AP4 cars and drivers that can do so well.”

He is close to announcing a seat in a front-wheel drive Citroen DS3 R3 for Rally Australia and hopes to have it confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

“We are definitely getting closer – we are just looking at tyres. When you do a WRC event you are meant to use WRC approved tyres and they are a little bit more expensive than normal. We are just working through that.”

Source: Dale Budge, NZ Herald

Skoda pair in fight for Johor

Ole Christian Veiby, Rally of Canberra 2017
With the third round of the 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), International Rally of Johor in Malaysia (11–13/08/2017), coming upthe title fight so far is the most exciting since years.

After reigning champion Gaurav Gill and co-driver Stéphane Prévot (IND/BEL) of Team MRF ŠKODA won the opening round in New Zealand with Ole Christian Veiby and Stig Rune Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR) finishing second, the Norwegian pair fought back with a victory at Rally Canberra in Australia ahead of their teammates. In the championship standings Veiby is now leading with two points ahead of Gill.

With two ŠKODA drivers fighting for the 2017 title the Czech manufacturer brand can look back on unparalleled success in the APRC. Every championship winner since 2012 was driving a ŠKODA. Now the brand is aiming at another title with the most successful rally car in its category, the ŠKODA Fabia R5.

ŠKODA youngster Ole Christian Veiby is well prepared for the Malaysian adventure. After strong results in the World Rally Championship (WRC 2) – and his maiden category win at Rally Poland – he currently lies second in the WRC 2 standings. At Rally Finland he was in the lead again before going off the road in spectacular style.

After the third APRC round, the China Rally, was cancelled due to logistical reasons, teammate Gaurav Gill on the other hand returns to competition after a break of more than two and half months. He will try to compensate this lack of practice with his experience of having competed in Malaysia in recent years. ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek emphasises: “Although I am really looking forward to see another round in the fight between experienced Gaurav Gill and our promising newcomer Ole Christian Veiby at the Rally of Johor, the victory in the APRC manufacturers category remains our main goal.”

Gaurav Gill, Rally of Canberra 2017
At the Malaysian APRC round, officially known as International Rally of Johor, the teams have to face 14 demanding special stages of 236 kilometres on small, fast and soft gravel roads on palm oil estates close to Kota Tinggi. The rally stages around the city, north of Johor Bahru and close to the border to Singapore, are arguably amongst the best in the country.

Fast, flowing and technically challenging roads all the way through, spiced up with high humidity of more than 80 per cent, temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius combined with heavy, temporary rainfalls are challenging the competitors. “I think, the best way to prepare myself for the rally is to do some work out in a sauna, wearing full clothes and my racing overall,” O.C. Veiby looks ahead to his Malaysian premiere. The International Rally of Johor starts on Friday evening at Johor Circuit, where the winner will cross the finish line on Sunday.

Source: Team Release

Competitor Update – 21 July 2017

International Rally of Johor

  • We have come up with a service park layout that will allow for containers to be included in your service area, as well as access to the pit workshops.
  • Team containers are expected to be delivered to the Johor Circuit, on Saturday 5 August. I am planning for the customs inspection process to take place on Friday 4 August.
  • For the export to Japan following Rally of Johor, it is expected that export customs inspections will take place on Monday afternoon, 14 August at Johor Circuit. This means team containers will need to be packed and ready for inspection by approx midday on Monday 14 August.
  • Please remember the prize giving dinner that will be held on Sunday 13 August. As per Supp Regs Art 15 and V4 APRC regulations 56.2.1, it is a requirement for crew members to attend this.
  • Entries for International Rally of Johor and APRC Asia Cup close today, Friday 21 July. Please ensure you have done this.

APRC Working Group meeting

  • The annual APRC Working Group meeting will be held on Monday 14 August, following Rally of Johor.
  • Final details and agenda are yet to be confirmed, however, this meeting will take place at Rally HQ hotel in Johor Bahru, starting at 8 am.
  • The Working Group meeting is an important part of the planning and management of APRC. As teams have discovered in recent years, the WG wants to hear the views of teams/competitors. Your presence at the meeting is important, your views and opinions are valuable and necessary to make the APRC better.

Rally Hokkaido

  • Supplementary Regulations are available online
  • Access to Kita Aikoku will be from 0900hrs on Monday 11 September
  • A reminder to teams and competitors. It is now a requirement for the holders of the FIA carnets to present themselves to Japan Customs in Tomakomai.
  • FIA carnet holders MUST present themselves, with their passports, to the Tomakomai Customs office on Friday 8 September at 9 am. In association with my agent in Tomakomai, we are working on a plan to do this as a group. Once confirmed I will provide details.
  • The most important thing at this stage is that you are in Tomakomai on Friday 8 August. This will normally mean you would need to fly in to Sapporo airport Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Coffee Day India Rally 2017

  • India Rally 2017 Rally Guide 1 is available online
  • As per 2016, this rally will be based in and around the Coffee Day coffee plantations around the city of Chikmagalur.
  • Closer to time, I will be providing further details on shipping and logistics and further event information. Please continue to check the rally website for more information.

Asia Cup registration, APRC regulation change

  • A reminder that registrations for Asia Cup now close on Friday 21 July, the same date as close of entries for Rally of Johor.
  • Registration forms are available on the APRC website
  • With the cancellation of China Rally, Asia Cup will now consist of 3 rallies, Malaysia, Japan and India. All 3 rounds will count towards final results for Asia Cup, APRC 2 Asia Cup and APRC 3 Asia Cup.
  • The APRC executive, and with approval of the FIA Rallies Commission, has agreed to waive the requirement under APRC Regulations (2017 FIA RRSR V4) Art 5.3 and Art 5.4.3 where competitors are required to pay the entry fee to organisers for all nominated rallies, even if any rallies are not entered or competed in.
  • Please note that the above changes are effective for 2017 only. There is expected to be a revision of registration requirements prior to 2018. All other requirements of APRC registration have NOT changed for 2017.
  • If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact me directly.

2WD APRC 3 Cars available

Have you ever wanted to seriously compete in APRC, and are comfortable driving a state of the art 2WD R2 rally car?
There will be RHD R2 cars available from Rally of Johor onwards, for use in Asia Cup, Malaysia, Japan and India. And for a full APRC programme in 2018. If you would like to know more about these cars, please just drop me an email.

If you have any questions at all on any of the above, or any other aspect of APRC 2017, please feel free to contact me directly.

If having problems accessing or downloading any of the forms and information as mentioned above, please contact me directly and I can email copies.

Murray Brown
APRC Coordinator
+63 908 310 5888