Early entries in the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally Championship sees renewed interest from Australian and New Zealand drivers.
Three Queensland based Australian drivers were the first to register their interest – all entered in the three-round Pacific Cup.
Bruce Fullerton and Simon Knowles entered their home event in Queensland Australia last year and for 2013 have made the step up to the APRC Pacific Cup with events in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.
Fullerton along with co-driver Hugh Reardon-Smith have competed at Australian Rally Championship level for many years with a number of class wins, winning the State Champions Cup in 1999 and numerous top-5 finishes at ARC rounds. As the team assembled equipment for shipping to the first event in Whangarei New Zealand, Fullerton said, “This is a new adventure for the team and we’ve entered the APRC’s Pacific Cup because of its welcoming reputation in rallying. Our aim is to be competitive whilst ensuring that we fully enjoy every event.
Simon Knowles and co-driver Margot Knowles echoed those thoughts “This year brings an exciting challenge to compete in the Pacific Cup. Having competed in the ARC from many years you get familiar with road surfaces, conditions and stages used. With rallies in New Zealand & New Caledonia we are taken right out of our comfort zone! Obviously we’ll have a home ground advantage when we return to Queensland but we need to be right on our game for the two overseas events. The right tyre choice and car set up will be critical in those first two rounds. We’re aiming for podium finish in all rounds and have a great battle with the other teams in the Pacific Cup. ”, said Knowles.
Fellow Australian Matt Van Tuinen will also tackle the Pacific Cup after doing the Rally of Otago in April as a warm up event.
Two New Zealanders have re-entered the series, veteran Brian Green and Junior Michael Young both returning to take on the challenges of the APRC.
Green along with regular co-driver Fleur Pederson will tackle their home event in a new Mitsubishi Evo 10, then switch to an older Evo 9 for New Caledonia, the same car Green will use in the local New Caledonian rally championship. A variety of cars follow for the remainder of the championship.
“Due to conflicting dates we can’t do Australia or China, however as always we’ll be chasing as many podiums as possible and trying to keep the top teams honest’ said Green prior to heading off for the first round of the New Caledonian championship.
In 2012 20-year old Michael Young won the Junior class in New Zealand and the 2WD class in Australia, but quickly went from ‘hero to zero’ with two big crashes in Malaysia and Japan.
“It was certainly a tough lesson to learn, but I know that experience will make me a better driver and I’m really looking forward to this year. We’ve teamed up with Cusco again, who have been really supportive even though I wrote-off one their cars last year!!”.
Young, with Australian co-driver Daniel Willson will enter the Junior Cup and this year pending funding, have added the Asia 2WD Cup including the new Thailand Rally.
After a year in a 2WD Proton Satria 1.6 Indian driver Sanjay Takale moves to a four-wheel drive car for 2013 APRC.
Working again with co-driver Musa Sheriff (who is co-driver for Gaurav Gill in the Indian Rally Championship), Takale will run a MRU run Subaru Impreza. Takale competes in numerous events in Asia including many Cross-Country rallies.
“I am looking forward to driving in the 4 wheel drive class, a bit nervous and also excited. To finish all the legs will be my first aim’, said Takale.
Further entries in the few weeks are expected from MRF Skoda, Proton, Cusco and MRU. APRC Coordinator Murray Brown said ‘Many of the teams I’ve been in contact with haven’t decided on drivers or cars yet. Final registrations are not required until April 22nd when entries close for the first event in New Zealand, so there’s plenty of time yet”.