The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is off to a flying start for Japan’s Katsu Taguchi who with co-driver Mark Stacey, led from start to finish in the opening round held last weekend in New Caledonia. Driving a MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 prepared by RaceTorque Australia, Taguchi used all his prior knowledge of the very tricky and fast event to establish a handy lead of 43 seconds on his new Australian team-mate Scott Pedder at the end of the first leg. That gap was extended on Day 2 when Pedder crashed out in the twisty Katrakoin stage leaving Taguchi to cruise to the finish and celebrate his first APRC win in two years.
“This is a very very good result for us and a good start for our Asia Pacific championship, we got the maximum 16 points. It was not an easy event, quite difficult stages and I must concentrate all the time. I’m now looking forward to Canberra, its an event I like but it will be a big fight with new teams joining the APRC. We have new tyres from MRF for Canberra and hopefully we’ll have the opportunity for some testing’, Taguchi said at the finish line.
In 2nd place was Dean Herridge in a CUSCO Subaru – an excellent result considering this was the Australians first trip to New Caledonia, ” this was an event full of firsts, first time with the CUSCO team, first time with Chris (Murphy) and first time in New Caledonia. I said at the start I’d be really happy to get on the podium, 2nd is a great result for us – roll on Canberra!!” said an elated Herridge at the finish.
New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud entered in the APRC Pacific Cup was 3rd overall, while kiwi Brian Green was 4th overall and 3rd in APRC.
The Katrikoin stage claimed Scott Pedder and Hiroshi Yanagisawa. The CUSCO car of Yanagisawa went off in the slippery mud and rolled over and out.
There will be a real battle in Canberra (Round 2) where Cody Crocker and Rifat Sungkar will start their 2008 APRC campaign for MotorImage Subaru. A new team from Arai Motorsport will join the APRC in Canberra with a new shaped Subaru for the very fast Takuma Kamada.
Rally New Caledonia – Final Overall Results
# : APRC registered
P : Pacific CUP