Finland rally star, Esapekka Lappi, has won the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the International Rally of Queensland with a significant winning margin of over 18 minutes.
Lappi, who now leads the APRC Drivers Championship subject to organisers’ final approval, took full advantage of his fellow competitors’ misfortunes to drive his Skoda Fabia S2000 to the win.
“We had some confidence problems to start but found it [our confidence] yesterday afternoon,” said Lappi, “but the last two stages were horrible actually, narrow and very slippery. We had to drive very carefully.”
“This win means a lot and is really good for the championship. It’s sad our team-mate Gaurav [Gill] had some problems and had to retire but we certainly enjoyed the rally.”
Gaurav Gill, the only potential challenger to Lappi after Day 1, had to retire from the competition after a right rear strut broke in the morning loop of stages.
“It broke off in a straight piece of road!” said Gill, “I didn’t hit anything but maybe it had fractures in it from somewhere else. I’m really disappointed but we will fight back in Malaysia.”
Following Gill’s retirement, Japan’s Atsushi Masumura had moved up to second place where he stayed for most of the afternoon until a puncture in the last stage cost him his podium place. All Masumura had to say was, “we are very very sad.”
Local husband and wife team, Simon and Margot Knowles were able to capitalise on Masumura’s misfortune and move up to second place in the APRC results, and more importantly, take the Pacific Cup Championship win, at their home event.
“We’ve had a great weekend and to get the Pacific Cup is just incredible. We really feel for Gaurav [Gill] but to finish first, first you must finish, apparently,” said Knowles.
“Considering there is only four of us; myself, Margot and two service crew guys, we never expected this but we’re really happy.”
Rounding up the podium was Sanjay Takale from India who was rewarded with the third place after a consistent drive over the weekend.
“I was lacking some confidence at the start after our crash at shakedown but we got our confidence back as the event progressed,” said Takale who now sits second in the APRC Drivers Championship, subject to official confirmation from organisers.
Australian Adrian Coppin, in a Ford Fiesta R2, put on a stellar performance against the international drivers and was rewarded with second place in the International Rally of Queensland event, separate to the APRC registered drivers results.
Further down the field, it was Japan’s Hiroshi Asakura who took out the two-wheel-drive class after Michael Young of New Zealand rolled off the road, forcing him into retirement before the final service.
“I’m still not exactly sure what happened,” said Young, “but a bump in the road caused the car to unbalance sending us wide and into a bank. We then spun backwards down the road and somehow ended up upside down in the ditch.”
The next round of the Asia Pacific Championship is set to be held at the Malaysian Rally on the 23-25 August, 2013. Full details of the International Rally of Queensland APRC television coverage will be released shortly.
The team from APRCtv would also like to take this opportunity to extend their deepest condolences to all of those affected by the tragedy that occurred at the International Rally of Queensland today. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.
Story and photos courtesy of aprc.tv
Rally of Queensland 2013 – FIA APRC Results
1. Esapekka Lappi /Janne Ferm, ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, 2h08m43.8s
2. Simon Knowles /Margot Knowles, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +20m14.6s
3. Sanjay Takale / Sean Gregory, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +20m14.3s
4. Hiroshi Asakura / Osamu Yoda, PROTON Satria Neo, +37m50.7s