Chris Atkinson has become the provisional 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Champion after the only other title contender Brian Green failed to score sufficient bonus points on Day 1 of China Rally. Green was one of the first competitors to congratulate Atkinson as they arrived back in Longyou for evening service.
Its been a good day for Skoda with Atkinson’s team-mate Gaurav Gill leading the event, but its only a slender margin as Proton Alister McRae is just 12 seconds back in second place. Gill seems to have the edge on gravel but McRae counted that advantage on the smooth concrete stages. Tomorrow over 50% of the mileage is on concrete so it will be a good battle to see who wins.
A win for McRae would put him in contention for the Asia Cup, currently led by Yuya Sumiyama who had an awful day, crashing twice and then breaking his Subaru suspension. But the Japanese driver is still in contention for the Cup in his current position, depending on the battle at the front.
Proton easily lead the two-wheel drive class with Karamjit Singh on track to win the two-wheeler title for a second year.
Should he fail, R3 team-mates Akira Bamba and Kenneth Koh are there to back him up.
Trailing at the back of the APRC field is Sanjay Tackale, the MRU team replacing his gearbox at evening service after loosing 1st and 2nd gear in the afternoon stages.