Subhan Wins Indonesia’s National Rally Title

Subhan Aksa closed his season in style as he won the Sriwijaya Rally in Banyuasin, South Sumatra, on Sunday to clinch the National Rally Championship crown.

Subhan and navigator Hade Mboi of Pertamina Bosowa finished the two-day, 145.71-kilometer rally in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 17.2 seconds.

Rizal Sungkar of Pertamina XP Rally came in second, while Sadikin Aksa, Subhan’s teammate, took third place.

With the victory, Subhan tops the national championship with 80 points. Rizal finished with 59.5 points, while Sadikin ended the season in third with 45 points.

“I’m very pleased with this trophy,” Subhan said on Sunday. “I’ve been in the national rally championship since 1999 and, finally, I took my maiden national title.”

The South Sulawesi driver said the race was close as Rizal pushed his Mitsubishi Evolution VIII all the way on the Banyuasin Musi Landas Plantation gravel track.

However, Rizal’s car suffered mechanical problems near the end of the race and he could not catch Subhan.

“I tried hard to overtake [Subhan], but my engine’s coil was melting and in the last stage the water got trapped in my car a bit so I couldn’t make it go faster,” Rizal said.

Subhan benefited from the absence of Rifat Sungkar, who has dominated the national rally in recent years. Rifat, Rizal’s older brother, won the title in 2007 and 2008.

Rifat did not enter this season’s championship and switched to the FIA Asia Cup rally. He finished the Asia Cup season in third place.

Subhan finished second in the first series in Penajam Paser Utara, East Kalimantan, in August. He went on to claim the second series in Makassar, South Sulawesi, in October, a race that also served as the sixth series of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Subhan said he wanted to follow Rifat’s path by competing in international championships. He raced in the Asia-Pacific Rally in 2006 and 2008, and the 2007 World Championship before withdrawing due to a lack of funds.

“I think I have the capability to compete in international events. Finance will likely be my biggest problem,” he said. “It takes a lot of money to be in international championships, but I’ll work hard to find more sponsors so I can race abroad in 2010.”

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