Atko Claims Opener for MRF

Chris Atkinson has taken back-to-back victories at Brother International Rally of Whangarei with a 28.1 second winning margin over fellow Asia Pacific Rally Championship contender Per-Gunnar Andersson as the two-day event wrapped up.

Atkinson, an Australian, piloted a Skoda Fabia S2000 car in his and the car’s first event with Team MRF from India. Last year Atkinson won the event in a Proton Satria Neo S2000 car – the car now driven by Andersson.

Third overall and third APRC finisher was Atkinson’s team-mate Indian Gaurav Gill in a similar MRF-backed Skoda.

Of his overall and APRC victory, Atkinson said: “It’s been a great weekend. The team have been amazing. The car, the tyres, everything worked really well. It was always going to be tough being up against the factory Proton team. The MRF team came along with a brand new car and straight out of the box we were on the pace and were able to control the rally, which is great. I was just driving to beat PG; that is all I was worried about, the APRC points, and while we could have gone a bit faster in places but we were trying to judge our speed and not try doing anything we didn’t have to.

Swedish driver P-G Andersson has rallied on some of the roads used in this event when they were part of Rally New Zealand, but this was his first run in the Whangarei event. The Proton driver said: “Chris has done a great job today after being first on the road, to have the pace he has. We’ve been trying to catch up as much as we could but we couldn’t do it just by driving; he had to make a mistake, have a puncture or something else. We were trying to keep the pressure on and enjoy those roads best I could – it was great fun. There are some issues we have to clarify but we’ve moved forward with the car and I think we will be stronger for the next rally. But we have really enjoyed it.”

Karamjit Singh won the APRC two-wheel drive category driving a Proton Satria Neo even though the multiple rally champion was in some pain throughout the event after having surgery to his back only a week ago. “Really pleased to get maximum points as it wasn’t easy with the pain. It starts off our campaign in the best possible way” said Singh at the finish.

The Junior catergory was won by New Zealander Michael Young, even though the young Kiwi had a huge scare in the final stages. “We came over a crest in 4th gear, totally too fast for the next corner. We spun around and somehow we didn’t hit anything. We were so lucky!!” a relieved Young said at the finish. Second in the catergory was Kenneth Koh from Malaysia, both Juniors driving Proton Satria Neo 1.6’s.

2012 Brother International Rally of Whangarei
1 – Chris Atkinson/Stephene Prevot, Australia, Skoda Fabia S2000 (APRC)
2 – Per-Gunnar Andersson/Emil Axelsson, Sweden, Proton Satria Fabia S2000 (APRC), +28.1
3 – Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall, India, Skoda Fabia S2000 (APRC), +2:35.8
4 – Alister McRae/Bill Hayes, Great Britain, Proton Satria Neo (APRC), +3:37.6
5 – Matt Jansen/Jason Farmer, Christchurch, Subaru STI (NZRC), +4:47.7
6 – Emma Gilmour/Anthony McLoughlin, Dunedin, Subaru STI (NZRC), +5:34.0
7 – Kingsley Thompson/John Allen, Kerikeri, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO (NZRC) 10, +6:35.8
8 – Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen, Palmerston North, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10 (NZRC), +14:19.0
9 – Josh Marston/Patrick Malley, Christchurch, Ford Fiesta (NZRC), +18:10.4
10 – Jean-Louis Leyraud/Philippe Delrieu, New Caledonia, Citroen DS3, +19:07.7

Photos and story courtesy of

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