APRC Junior Cup Preview

The APRC’s Junior Cup is a new initiative to promote and encourage young drivers. It was first run in 2011 and won by Japan’s Akira Bamba.

New Zealander Michael Young is the only kiwi entered in the APRC’s Junior Cup and having been a regular competitor in overseas rallies in 2011, is in the unique position of having competed against or been team-mates with all the main competitors in this year’s Junior Cup.

Young will have regular co-driver Daniel Willson from Tasmania, Australia alongside him for the series and gives an in-sight to the Junior Cup competition.

What car will you drive in the APRC Junior Cup? All the Junior competitors are driving Proton Satria 1.6’s built and prepared by Cusco Racing.

We will be driving the same car we used in Hokkaido last year, upgraded slightly to include a dog-box.  Daniel and I will join the K’s World Rally Team for Rally Whangarei and my team-mate will be Takashi Nihei from Japan.

Who will be the driver to beat in the Junior Cup? Akira Bamba from Japan will definitely be the bench-mark as he is last year’s Junior champion and has the advantage of competing in all the events in the same car. Bamba-san and I were team-mates in Hokkaido. He was really helpful and gave me lots of encouragement.

I know Kenneth Koh from Malaysian rallies. We were team-mates on two events and have kept in touch with each other on Facebook. Kenneth will definitely be quick at his home event and he has the very experienced Jagdev Singh as his co-driver, who did most of the APRC last year with Guna Rajoo.  Bamba and Karamjit Singh are Kenneth’s team-mates, so he will be getting plenty of good advice through the year. For sure I’ll be keeping an eye on his times as Kenneth is probably my main rival.

To you know much about the other events in the APRC? I am lucky to have competed in 3 of the 4 countries where the Junior Cup is held. Hopefully that gives me a slight edge over the other new Juniors.  Daniel and I did Whangarei last year,  three events in Malaysia and Rally Hokkaido.

Malaysia and Hokkaido are very specialised events, with the temperatures, humidity and slippery Malaysian roads a real challenge. Hokkaido is very tricky, the roads very fast but very narrow, the road surface is very soft and by the third pass there are huge ruts.

The one event I have not done is Queensland, but my co-driver Daniel has been there many times. I also played cricket in Caloundra so I do know the area, but obviously not the rally roads!!

This year my team-mate will be Takashi Nihei from the K’s World Rally Team. We competed against each other on last year’s Rally Whangarei, although at that time he was  a co-driver to Shogo Ito in a Suzuki.

What is your main reason for entering the APRC Junior Cup? For sure it’s the international competition and learning to drive on a variety of roads and conditions. Its also important to establish an

international profile as to continue in this sport I have to get support from big international companies. In New Zealand we don’t have those big corporations and that’s why I have concentrated on events in Asia.

This article originally appeared on aprc.tv.