Reigning Asia-Pacific Rally Champion Alister McRae has predicted one of the toughest battles ever as he prepares for his title defence in New Zealand this week.
The Proton-driving Scot begins this season’s six-round APRC on the International Rally of Whangarei, where he will face his team-mate P-G Andersson and one-time Proton star Chris Atkinson who has switched to an MRF-run Skoda Fabia S2000 for this season.
McRae said: “It’s going to be a very competitive year, there’s no doubt about that – more so, I’d say than last year. The MRF guys are coming with a Super 2000 car which is going to be quicker than the Group N cars they were using last year. Chris will be in there fighting, as will Gaurav [Gill, Atkinson’s MRF team-mate].
“The guy who’s going to be quick everywhere will be P-G. He doesn’t know these rallies, but that won’t stop him being at the front. As for me, I’m really looking forward to it. This is the third year we’ve competed in this championship and it’s great, the rallies are so diverse, it’s amazing.”
Atkinson won three APRC rounds with Proton last season and admitted he was looking forward to facing his old team in the heat of the battle.
“It’ll be a good race with those guys,” said Atkinson. “There’s no doubt it’s going to be a closer season than last year, there’s plenty to fight for against Proton.”
The APRC series starts on New Zealand’s North Island before moving to New Caledonia, Queensland, Malaysia, Japan and China.
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