The forty four car field for the 2004 Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua, round three of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, will be a race between past Asia Pacific, European and New Zealand Rally Champions.
2003 Asia Pacific Rally Champion and 2002 European Rally Champion, Armin Kremer of Germany has been seeded number one for the event. Along with co-driver Timo Gottschalk in the MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8, Kremer leads the APRC point’s race after consistent results in the championships first two rounds in Canberra and New Caledonia.
Starting second on the road will be double Asia Pacific Rally Champion and 2002 Production World Rally Champion Karamjit Singh of Malaysia. Singh and co-driver Allen Oh driving a Proton PERT have been a regular visitor to New Zealand in past years, with a best result of third at last years Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua. Singh is currently second in the 2004 APRC points race after victory in the first round at Canberra in May.
Leading local driver Geoff Argyle and co-driver Steve Smith start at three in the Team Total Lubricants Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8. Argyle, a twice former New Zealand Rally Champion heads to Rotorua third in the APRC, following his first international rally victory in New Caledonia last month.
Starting behind Argyle will be 1999 Asia Pacific Champion, Katsuhiko Taguchi of Japan in the second MRF Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8, and 2002 Production Champion Nico Caldarola of Italy in a Subaru Impreza.
Australian driver Chris Atkinson in one of two works Suzuki Ignis Super 1600’s will start at six, followed by Team Subaru New Zealand driver Chris West in the ex Possum Bourne Production specification Subaru Impreza. Westy and co-driver Garry Cowan will be followed by Masterton’s Richard Mason and Hamish Fenemor also in a Subaru, with Ralliart NZ driver Mark Tapper starting ninth in the Ralliart NZ Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7. Completing the top 10 is Finland’s Vesa Mikkola in the second works Suzuki, Mikkola the son of World Rallying great, Hannu Mikkola.
Tough competition is also expected from leading Group A competitors, and Parker Enzed New Zealand Rally Championship front runners Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland), Todd Bawden (Hibiscus Coast), Glenn Smith (Hawera), Lewis Scott (Wellington) and past National Champion Neil Allport (Auckland), all driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6.
The forty four car international field includes 10 international drivers from seven different nations.
The event also incorporates the Waiariki Institute of Technology Clubman’s Rally, round 3 of the CPS NZ Limited Top Half Rally Series. This event will follow the APRC field competing on the same roads, with a field of thirty four competitors to take the start.
Event information including maps and tickets will be available from Tuesday July 6th at Rally Headquarters, Millennium Hotel, Rotorua. All proceeds from ticket sales are shared with local community groups who assist with providing marshals for the event.
The 2004 Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua begins with a ceremonial start on the evening of Thursday 8th July at City Focus in the heart of Rotorua with two days of competition, before concluding back at City Focus on the afternoon of Saturday 10th July.