New Zealand crew Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen left the opposition feeling stunned when they pulled off a sensational win in the international Malaysian Rally 2003.
Driving an SR Motorsport Subaru Impreza STi, the duo were handed the win on the penultimate stage, when the gearbox of Karamjit Singh’s and Allen Oh’s Proton PERT lost all drive. Up to that point, Brian had been driving rapidly but carefully in slippery conditions, comfortably holding second place. Despite their pre-event prediction of taking all three podium places, the PERT team were left with just one, as the 1.6 liter Wira of Adrian Lam and Sanjeev Menon was the only PERT car to finish.
Veteran rally driver Brian Green and his young co-driver Fleur Pedersen were naturally ecstatic at taking their first international rally win, and the news spread rapidly back to New Zealand, where the pair are popular and regular competitors.
The car meanwhile ran like clockwork throughout the three-day event. The SRMS Impreza, run with support from Shell Malaysia, Silverstone High Performance Tires, Performance Additives, and Mofaz, suffered only one failure during the gruelling event. Leaving Parc Ferm on day two, the crew noticed the intercom was not functioning, and this required the replacement of cheap 9 volt battery! Aside from this, the reliability was so good the service crew had time to clean and polish the car at the end of each day. Clearly, their pre-event preparation work had been undertaken with consummate professionalism.
Before returning to New Zealand, Brian complimented the whole team by saying “I really can’t find fault with anything, or suggest any improvements. I’m very much hoping Fleur and I will be able to return for Round 6 of the Perodua AAM Malaysian Rally Championship in September, and I intend to bring other Kiwis here to experience Malaysian rallying” he continued.
Conditions throughout the three-day event were very changeable. Following three weeks of persistent heavy rain, the stages were extremely muddy and slippery. But during the event, the weather was mostly hot which allowed the stage surfaces to dry. Making the right choice of tires was especially difficult, and Brian was very satisfied with the efforts of the Silverstone technicians, who had to make many adjustments to compounds and tread patterns during the event.
Team Manager Paul Russell was delighted with the result, and noted “This is something I hadn’t even dreamed of achieving on only our second rally. Getting the car to the finish, and giving the crew an enjoyable weekend were really our only objectives” he said. “When it looked like they could take a podium place I was more than satisfied, but actually winning the rally is something that hasn’t really sunk in.”
“I feel really sorry for Karamjit and Allen, who came so close to the win, but that’s rallying. The last hour of the event was a nail- biting time for us, as we waited for the car to return to the final time control” he continued. “But Brian, Fleur and the whole team did a fantastic job, and here we are with the win.”
He also noted, “Our only regret is that our other car was unable to start the rally. Driver Natalie Barratt was unable to compete due to personal reasons, and returned to the UK. We fully respect her decision, and sincerely hope she will be able to return in the not too distant future to experience the quality of Malaysian rallying” he concluded.
The Malaysian Rally 2003, held in the southern state of Johor, was observed by the FIA for possible inclusion in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. If the Perlis Motorsport Club is successful in its bid, Brian and Fleur will have gained valuable experience for future rallies here. And to ensure they return soon, the team is working hard to re-prepare cars for the sixth round of this year’s Championship, to be held in the plantations around Sepang, on September 27th and 28th.