Team MRF have completely dominated the third round of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), winning an incredible 16 of the 19 Rally Queensland special stages in a masterful display.
Queenslander Chris Atkinson, with Belgian co-driver Stephane Prevot, won the event by nearly four minutes in their Skoda Fabia Super 2000. It was Atkinson’s first victory in his home event, and further extended his lead in the 2012 APRC.
His team-mates, Indian Guarav Gill and Australian Glenn Macneall, started the event brilliantly and led Atkinson by 0.4 of a second after three stages. However, a broken wire stopped the battery from charging soon after, and they were forced to retire from the first day.
Gill bounced back magnificently on day two, winning seven of the eight stages, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with.
But it was Atkinson’s weekend as he took his second victory from three events.
“It’s one of the most special feelings to be an athlete and win your home event,” he said.
“The car has been faultless and everything worked well. After the last two years when we were leading here and then had problems on the final day, it’s a bit of a relief to win.
“It was pretty tough out there on the roads, but I wasn’t going to do anything silly and throw away a two-minute lead, so we took it carefully.
“The Skoda S2000 was great, and a new design of MRF tyre gave me a lot of confidence from the start.”
The win sees the Australian claim the prestigious APRC Pacific Cup for the second year running.
“It’s been an awesome weekend and I can’t thank my MRF Skoda team enough,” he added.
“This is the second year running we’ve won the Pacific Cup, which is great to have another trophy to add to the cabinet, but more importantly, we’ve now extended our lead in the championship to a very healthy margin.”
Leading his MRF Skoda teammate Gaurav Gill by eight points coming into the round, Atkinson now leads the APRC by 38 points over Gil, with three rounds remaining.
The next event in the 2012 APRC is the Malaysian Rally from July 13-15.
2012 Rally of Queensland – final results
Chris Atkinson / Stephane Prevot, Skoda Fabia S2000
Alister McRae / Bill Hayes, Proton Satria S2000, +3m57.9s
Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen, Mitsubishi Lancer, +15m19.6s
PG Andersson / Emil Axelsson, Proton Satria S2000, +16m08.6s
2012 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship points – after Round 3
Chris Atkinson 101
Gaurav Gill 63
Brian Green 52 =4. PG Andersson 48 =4. Alister McRae 48
Team MRF 153
Proton Motorsports 98
Proton R3 Cusco 36