The beautiful Pacific island of New Caledonia is the scene for the first round of the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rallye de Nouvelle-Caledonie and this year the French territory will add a new element to the series with an announcement that six teams will enter the championship under the banner ‘Team New Caledonia’.
Leading Team New Caledonia and driving a Subaru Impreza will be 55 year old Jean-Louis Leyraud who has been rallying for 35 years and competed in Morocco, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. Leyraud has been crowned New Caledonian rally champion 10 times and competed in the 2002 APRC where he finished 4th in Group N. His international experience will be invaluable as Team New Caledonia takes on the different conditions, cultures and climates of the seven round series in 2007.
Leyraud will be joined by experienced Mitsubishi drivers Daniel Palau (41yrs) and Patrick Christian (45 yrs) who are regular international competitors in New Zealand and of course New Caledonia where Palau has been New Caledonian champion 4 times and Christian finished 2nd in the 2006 series. Christian was beaten to the New Caledonian rally title in the final event by Patrick Yanai, who will also join Team New Caledonia and drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. Other drivers in the team and looking forward to the international experience are Alexis Burbou and Robert Christian.
All six drivers are hoping to finish in the top 5 and are of course looking forward to taking on the other international APRC competitors when they compete in their home event the 2007 APRC Rally of New Caledonia 13-15 April. ‘It is with great pleasure that we announce Team New Caledonia’s six car team and we plan to use it to promote and put New Caledonia on the map. This a great adventure not only for the rally crews, but also for our country’ said Gaetan Barretteau, President of the CORNC and ASANC. Further information on 2007 Rallye de Nouvelle-Caledonie can be found at www.rallye-nc.net