Under exceptionally difficult conditions, four Mitsubishi drivers placed in the top 9 after the conclusion of the Rally Canberra on Sunday, March 12th. David Hills of Australia took his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII (N4) to an impressive 4th overall followed by veteran Japanese driver Taguchi in 6th. Fellow countryman Atsushi Masumura took 7th in the Mitsubishi CT94. Rifat Sungar of Indonesia finished 8th on his first outing on the event driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII.
Top honors went to Subaru’s Cody Crocker of Australia who got his 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship campaign off to an ideal start by winning the first round on his home event.
The Australian round of the 2006 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is the first of eight events that will be played out throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Each event will showcase the diverse terrain and culture unique to each country. Registered crews must undertake to participate in a minimum of three events in Asia and two in the pacific region, with scores from six of the eight events counting towards the series title.
The opening round took place in Australia’s national capital of Canberra. Exceptionally tough conditions awaited the competitors. Leg one on Saturday was made up of 117km of competition across 8 stages and Leg 2 on Sunday included 9 special stages, which ran 104km in the hills west of Canberra. In total, the event took in 17 stages based around the Sutton Driver Training Center service park. The podium finish commenced at 3.00pm at Kowen Central in downtown Canberra. Although it’s winter in most parts of the world, down in Australia it’s summer and the high temperatures and rough roads took their toll on the contenders over the 2-day event. By Sunday afternoon just nine competitors had finished the event.
Mitsubishi’s Jarkko Miettinen and co-driver Mikko Markkula showed incredible skill and speed on opening day placing 2nd overall. Although Mitsubishi had the hopes on the talented newcomer from Finland luck was not with him when he was forced to retire on SS6 on Saturday after experiencing trouble with the transmission about 8km into the stage. Because he was only able to run in 5th gear he could not keep up the pace he had anticipated. Mechanics later confirmed that the select shifter pin had come loose. Meanwhile, veteran APRC driver Katsuhiko Taguchi was also one of the top contenders from the opening day until he blew his turbo approximately 10km into SS9 of Leg 2 on Sunday. He was forced to run at low speed and limped into the service area. His crew managed to change the turbo but Taguchi was not able to keep the heat on, thwarting his goal of winning the opening event. However, he maintained a steady pace for the remainder of the event and subsequently finished a well-deserved 6th overall. Quite a feat when only nine where able to finish the arduous event.
“After our earlier problems we are very lucky to come back to 4th position for the APRC. The stage times improved so it was quite a good drive this time. Unfortunately we had a turbo problem and our engine oil was almost gone, but we made it back to service. The mechanics did a great job to change the turbo in the 20-minute service break – perfect job. But we lost a lot of time and dropped from 2nd to 4th position. However we still picked up 7 points for the weekend – lucky seven!! Mark (Stacey) and I worked well this weekend, the car went well and we’re looking forward to the next event,” said Taguchi, who is looking forward to taking on the next event the Rally of New Caledonia
The second round of the 2006 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the contenders to the Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie (May 20-22).
Final Results – Rally Canberra 2006
1. Cody Crocker/Ben Atkinson, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2:27:18.6
2. Dean Herridge/Bill Hayes, Subaru Impreza WRX, +1:02.6
3. Eli Evans/ Matt McAdam,Subaru Impreza WRX, +5:39.9
4. David Hills/David Callaghan, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, +7:57.7
5. Hiroshi Yanagisawa/Tadashi Misaizu Subaru Impreza WRX, +9:08.0
6. Katsuhiko Taguchi/ Mark Stacey Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, +11:35.5
7. Atsushi Masumura/Seiichiro Yayanagi, Mitsubishi CT9A, +13:33.2
8. Rifat Sungkar/ M Herkusuma, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, +15:25.2
9. Denis Stevens/Amy Stevens, Subaru Impreza WRX, +29:47.7
Source: Mitsubishi Motorsport