APRC China Rally – Subaru and Mitsubishi battle for title

While the race for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship drivers and co-drivers title is all over with Australia’s Cody Crocker and Ben Atkinson only needing to cross the start-line in next weekends China Rally to take the honors for a second year, the battle for the manufacturers title is very tight – only two points separate Subaru and Mitsubishi.

Subaru have dominated all year with 4 wins for Cody Crocker, aided by podium finishes from his Motor Image team-mate Rifat Sungkar and the Cusco Subaru of Hiroshi Yanagisawa. After six rounds Subaru has 74 points, but only a 2 point lead over rival Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi have stayed in the hunt by winning outright in New Caledonia and Indonesia and only once were they not represented on the podium with a top three finish.

Heading to China the MRF Mitsubishi team are on top form with Jussi Valimaki’s win in APRC Rally Indonesia, then a week later the Finn wrapped up the Finnish National Rally Championship Title. Team-mate Katsu Taguchi is on fire too with an outstanding performance at WRC Rally of Japan, 8th overall, winning Group N and earning himself a WRC point. On the other hand Crocker will have no pressure on him with the drivers title wrapped up and therefore he will be able to make it a straight fight, with the added knowledge that Subaru dominated the event last year, while Mitsubishi failed miserably.

In the drivers championship 2nd and 3rd will be decided between Valimaki on 49 points and Taguchi on 47 – no one else can get close to them. Fourth is a battle between Kumar on 28 points, Yanagisawa 27 and Sungkar on 24. Kumar won’t compete in China and his team-mate Brian Green has an outside chance of taking the spot as the kiwi currently sits on 18 points.

China Rally begins with a ceremonial start and superspecial on Friday afternoon (9th Nov) and after 223 kilometres of competitive stages finishes back in Longyou on Sunday afternoon. The event is also the final round of the China Rally Championship and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. A huge field is expected from the China National series, while no IRC cars will be present as their championship was wrapped up by Peugeot in the pen-ultimate round – Rallye du Valais. However competitors in Mitsubishi, Honda or Volkswagen cars are eligible to score points in the IRC drivers and manufacturers championships.