The 2005 Rally of Thailand was won by Finnish driver Jussi Valimaki in an MRF Mitsubishi Lancer. With speeds exceeding 200kph the fast Thailand roads suited the power of the Mitsubishi and Valimaki dominated the event by winning 15 of the 16 stages. The expected challenge from current P-WRC leader Toshi Arai didn’t eventuate and “Fast Jussi” won the event easily by 1 minute and 23 seconds, “I expected to be more tight, but for sure I wanted to win this rally, we want to challenge Arai here because we have nothing to lose. The championship was sealed, this was our target and very happy about the result”.
Arai tried everything to beat Valimaki, but found the fast roads didn’t suit his Subaru. While he would have liked to win in Thailand the Japanese driver has his focus on the WRC Rally of Australia where he hopes to wrap up the Production World Rally Championship. ” I’m a little disappointed not to beat Jussi and finish second, but this event has been good practice for Australia because road is quite fast and quite tricky also”.
The only driver to beat Valimaki was his team-mate Katsu Taguchi and this was on stage 3. Unfortunately Taguchi’s event came to an abrupt end on stage 7 – the Japanese driver going straight ahead at a junction and smashing his Mitsubishi into a tree ” A little bit too fast, no not a ‘little bit’ – much too fast!!” said Taguchi as he surveyed the damage to his car.
On the podium for the third time this year was Malaysian driver Kan Chi Hong, driving a Mitsubishi for the Chinese based Wan Yu Rally Team. Kan struggled with suspension problem on both days but stayed ahead of Kiwi Geof Argyle who finished 4th – the New Zealander also suffering suspension and shock absorber problems. Dermott Malley finished 5th, Brian Green 6th and Mitsuhiro Kunisawa 7th.
The next and final event in the 2005 APRC calendar is Rally of China 26-28 November.
Results – 2005 Rally of Thailand
1. Jussi Valimaki / Jarkko Kalliolepo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.04.20
2. Toshi Arai / Tony Sircombe Subaru Impreza WRC STi 2.05.43 +1.23
3. Kan Chee Hong / Bernard Chin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.08.28 +4.08
4. Geof Argyle / Grant Marry Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.11.39 +7.19
4. Dermott Malley / Jagdev Singh Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.12.15 +7.55
5. Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.15.06 +10.46
6. Mitsuhiro Kunisawa/Visut Sukosi Subaru Impreza 2.15.49 +11.29