The Asia Pacific Rally Championship’s Junior cup is one of the best options in 2012 for young drivers who want to gain international experience and media exposure. Based on Group N 1600cc cars, the current car of choice is the Proton Satria 1.6, but others manufacturers that have cars that qualify including Suzuki, Toyota and Renault.
In 2012 four events qualify for the Junior cup, Rally Whangarei (New Zealand), Rally Queensland (Australia), Malaysian Rally and Rally Hokkaido (Japan). Drivers must be under 28 years old on the 1st January, to qualify.
APRC Team Coordinator Murray Brown is excited by the interest in the Junior Series, “The qualification criteria for the APRC Junior Cup have been relaxed for 2012 in an attempt to encourage junior drivers from within the region to have a go. In an attempt to make it more attractive the minimum number of events has dropped to 2 events, 1 of the 2 Pacific events, and 1 of the 2 Asia events. Competitors can also register at any time prior to events, providing they meet the minimum participation criteria.
Brown added “This is an ideal low cost alternative for up and coming young drivers to participate in a FIA recognized international series, and testing their skills against other similar drivers in the region. All drivers benefit from stepping outside their comfort zone and experiencing other international events beyond their home turf. For any junior rally driver contemplating a driving career, this is an ideal opportunity to prove themselves”.
Last year’s winner Akira Bamba is planning to return, possibly with a Proton factory run junior team and several other young drivers are expected to join. Possibilities include Malaysian Kenneth Koh, Australian Glen Raymond, New Zealanders Matt Janson and Matt Summerfield. After competing in Malaysia and Hokkaido in 2011, New Zealander Michael Young with Australian co-driver Daniel Willson is also hoping to compete in some rounds. Cusco and MRU Motorsport both have cars available for lease or buy.
Since its inception in 1988, the APRC has fostered a huge range of drivers that have gone on to become either World Champions (Carlos Sainz) or drivers in the World Rally Championship. Possum Bourne, Karamjit Singh, Brendan Reeves, Hayden Paddon and Chris Atkinson all started their international rally careers in the APRC, where they not only learnt to drive on the many different road surfaces, but also how to cope with different cultures, climates, the media and promotional pressures.