Malaysian Karamjit Singh surged back into the lead of the MRF India Rally on Leg 2 with a 90 second gap to second place Armin Kremer from Germany. Singh was not happy with the rough conditions though, ‘its so rough that its no fun anymore’. That didn’t stop him from blizzing the field in his Proton Pert.
Armin Kremer lost his lead on the 2nd stage of the day, but stills stays in contention for the overall APRC title, having already wrapped up the Production class for Mitsubishi. Kremer just needs to maintain his 2nd position and score bonus points on the last day to take the title. It will be anxious last leg for his MRF team as the conditions are so rough and unpredictable. Interestingly Kremer has had very shock absorber problems (although they have been changed for safety) and is the only competitor using the Reiger damper.
Italys’ Nico Caldarola holds a comfortable 3rd position on track to have his best finish of 2003. Behind this trio comes Kremers MRF team-mate Austrain David Doppelreiter have a good run, then comes New Zealander Geof Argyle languishing in 5th. It really has all gone wrong for Argyle, coming into the event leading the championship and on track to take the APRC title. Like many drivers he has suffered with suspension problems and is down to his last set of shocks, “I get about 20km out them before they start overheating and go soft, we just back-off to a touring pace and they come right”.
At least Argyle is still running as his team-mate Andrew Hawkeswood retired on stage 7 after a puncture, he broke a lower suspension arm and lost the right front wheel off his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5. Unfortunately his team had used up all the suspension parts they had so Hawkeswood had no other option but to retire from the event.
Behind Argyle and close enough to threaten his place is young Chris Atkinson in the Suzuki Ignis Super 1600. “we backed off today and picked our way through the rocks”, said Atkinson at the halfway point. Brian Green is 7th and the only remaining APRC competitor still running.
Both yesterday’s retirees, Fumio Nutahara and Katsuhiko Taguchi restarted the second leg, and set about redeeming some team prode. Taguchi won the eighth stage but his Mitsubishi succumbed to transmission failure on the ninth while Nutahara had similar problems on the eighth stage and retired.