Karamjit Singh Wins New Caledonia

A dream run for Malaysian Karamjit Singh in his Proton PERT has put him back in contention for the APRC title taking a maximum 19 points for the 2002 Rally of New Caledonia, although Nico Caldarola remains championship leader after another good drive. The young Saladin is quickly coming to grips with his powerful Silverstone WRC Hyundai Accent and he cannot be far from an outright win.

The final day was run on the volcanic roads in the South, vastly different from the rest of the island. Singh was flying and even though he had a substantial lead felt he couldn’t slow down, “if you go slow you start day-dreaming and so I kept pushing hard. We had fun today and no punctures!”. No punctures for Singh but his Italian rival Caldarola did on the 2nd stage of the morning losing his hard won 2nd position overall to Saladin, “it’s a beautiful day we won Group N and hold the overall lead for the championship”.

Saladin finished 2nd and although six and half minutes behind the leader is really starting to push the car. “Saladins’s not afraid of the power and pushes it hard. Sure he’s gone beyond the limits but he learns fast and his feed-back to the team is good ‘he has a bright future” said his MSD team boss. Alistair Cavengh finished 4th overall and 2nd in Group N “we’re pretty happy to pickup valuable points; we had an average day but overall the result is good”.

Behind Cavenagh came perhaps the drive of the event Stu Warren from New Zealand, who recced only the first day and ran on borrowed notes: “it was pretty scary”.

If there ever was event of contrasts this was it. Everyday has been different – different weather from pouring rain to searing sun, different terrain from twisty mountain roads to flat 190kph blind crests and dips. Road surfaces that include slippery mud, hard fast cambered gravel and red volcanic soil – a ball-bearing surface making these roads as slippery as ice even in the dry. Above all the Rally of New Caledonia is memorable for being a warm friendly event on a south-seas tropical island – and a little piece of France in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

1 01 Karamjit SINGH Proton Pert A 8 1 1 2:39:32.0 – 2:39:32.0
2 05 Saladin MAZLIN Hyundai Accent WRC A8 22 2:46:03.0 – 2:46:03.0 +6:31.0 +6:31.0
3 02 Nico CALDAROLA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII N 4 11 2:46:37.0 – 2:46:37.0 +7:05.0 +0:34.0
4 03 Alastair CAVENAGH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N 4 2 2 2:49:53.0 – 2:49:53.0 +10:21.0 +3:16.0
5 11 Stuart WARREN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N 4 3 3 2:53:17.0 – 2:53:17.0 +13:45.0 +3:24.0
6 18 Gael LECERF Audi A 8 3 3 2:55:04.0 – 2:55:04.0 +15:32.0 +1:47.0
7 09 Sean GRAY Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V N 4 4 4 2:55:42.0 – 2:55:42.0 +16:10.0 +0:38.0
8 08 Brian GREEN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI A 8 4 4 2:58:31.0 – 2:58:31.0 +18:59.0 +2:49.0
9 16 Patrick CHRISTIAN Audi S2 A 8 5 5 3:01:58.0 – 3:01:58.0 +22:26.0 +3:27.0
10 12 Eugene CREUGNET Subaru Impreza A 8 6 6 3:02:21.0 – 3:02:21.0 +22:49.0 +0:23.0