The FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship is the region’s premier rally Championship and the 2011 season will see 11 drivers competing in 6 rounds starting in Malaysia this weekend (1-3 April).
Reigning champion Katsu Taguchi from Japan, returns to defend his Crown with the MRF Tyres Team driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. Long-time friend and co-driver Mark Stacey will return to the APRC and call the notes for Katsu.
In 2010 Taguchi’s team-mate Gaurav Gill finished only 3 points behind and second in the drivers championship. The young Indian is quick enough to take the title in 2011. The MRF team’s biggest competition will come from Australian’s Chris Atkinson and his Scottish team-mate Alister McRae. Both are former WRC drivers and will drive for the factory backed Proton team using the latest S2000 Satria Neos.
Last year, these two teams provided most of the competition and it will be interesting to see if the R4 spec’d Mitsubishi’s can foot it with the very quick and nimble Protons.
The Pertamina Cusco Racing Team will also be looking to chalk up a win this season with Rifat Sungkar behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, while kiwi Brian Green will drive a variety of cars through the series as he too chases the drivers title.
This year will also see the debut of the Soueast Motor Kumho team who will field 3 Evo 10s driven by China’s Hao YUAN and Fan Fan as well as last year’s China Rally winner and triple British champion Mark Higgins from Britain.
For the first time in several years, two drivers have entered the APRC in the 2WD class. Malaysia’s Gunasaleen Rajoo has entered a Suzuki Swift while Akiro Bamba has entered the main competition in his Proton Satria 1.6 at the same time as competing for the inaugural Junior Cup.
In each country the main APRC teams will be joined by competitors entered in either of the Pacific or Asia Cups.
Competitors compete for the cups in the three events of that region…. and over 20 twenty drivers have registered for this part of the competition.
Looking like one of the most competitive in several years, the season flags off on April 1 in Johor Baru with the Malaysia Rally.
The entry-list can be downloaded here: Malaysia Entry List