Subaru driver Possum Bourne has started his 2000 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship campaign with an emphatic win at the FAI Rally of Canberra, putting him within one point of series leader Karamjit Singh of Malaysia. Bourne won all three legs, to complete the event in 3 hours, 31 minutes and 57 seconds and claim maximum available points from the second round of the international series.
Last year’s APRC Champion Japan’s Katsuhiko Taguchi finished second having his first drive in a works supported Group Mitsubishi Lancer Ev0 6 and finished 6 mins 21secs behind Bourne.
The result sets up a tight fight for series leadership at the next round in Bourne’s own territory, Rally New Zealand in July. Current championship leader Malaysia’s Karamjit Singh (Proton), winner of the opening round in Indonesia, finished fifth outright and third in class. He holds a championship lead of just one point over Bourne and eight in front of Taguchi.
Bourne’s dominance in Canberra began on stage two of the three day event and extended to winning 17 of 21 competitive stages. Multiple stage wins were a key factor in Bourne’s recovery from a flat tyre, which dropped him to tenth spot following the first 26km stage of the 296km event.
In the Group N Production Car class Cody Crocker (Subaru) finished in front of Japan’s Fumio Nutahara (Mitsubishi) and Singh to come away with third place outright. In the process Crocker delivered to Team Subaru its first combined outright and production car class win at the same Asia-Pacific event.
Australia’s Neal Bates (Toyota) failed to complete Leg One after leaving the road and bogging his Corolla. Under Asia-Pacific Championship rules he was able to re-enter for Legs Two and Three, but was not classified in the overall results, despite setting a number of fastest stage times.
The Formula 2 section went the way of Japanese driver Masaki Yamada (Toyota) after hot favourite Simon Evans failed to complete the second leg with a broken front cross-member.
Event sponsor FAI Insurance parted with a special $10,000 award split between Bourne, Taguchi and Bates after they each beat the existing EPIC stage record. The world record $50,000 rallying prize FAI offered remained unclaimed, although Bourne was just 2.3 seconds short of the mark.