Flying the flag for Sri Lanka in the APRC Asia Cup

Sri Lankan driver Dinesh Deheragoda entered a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 at last year’s Thailand Rally to gain experience of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, finishing the event in 4th place after some initial mechanical issues. Earlier this month team owners EZY Motor Racing Corporation confirmed Deheragoda would enter the 2014 Asia Cup starting at next month’s Malaysian Rally. This the team’s press release following the announcement.

In a major move aimed towards creating history in motor sports in Sri Lanka, four years after having set up Sri Lanka’s first-ever professional motor racing company, EZY Motor Racing Corporation announced earlier this month several ground breaking initiatives. The brand owners of Sri Lanka’s most followed motor racing team EZY Racing, unveiled their international racing car ER88 at an exclusive event where they also announced that 15 times National Champion Dinesh Deheragoda will manoeuvre the ER 88 (the name of the new car) by representing them internationally at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), commencing August 2014.

Having earlier announced their intentions of putting Sri Lanka on the world map of motor racing by contending in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, with the unveiling of ER88, EZY Racing becomes the island nation’s very first motor racing team to compete in a FIA (the world governing body for motor racing) governed race trans-nationally. The exclusive event and media gathering saw Murray Brown, Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, and Shahid Mahmud, CEO of the Dubai based Interactive Group, who are EZY Racing’s principal sponsor, gracing the occasion.

Brown, who has an impressive track record in his current role, has successfully led APRC to the pinnacle of Asia Pacific Motor Racing under FIA governed motor sports for the two continents. The APRC which is renowned to have a great followership worldwide is held in a diverse range of countries, climates and cultures which includes New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia, Japan, China, Malaysia and Thailand. Ranked as an extension of FIA’s apex World Rally Championship, APRC is the leading Rally Championship for the whole of Asia Pacific and is considered to be the top contender for the regions premier event.

EZY Racing which has become renowned for its impeccably designed cars that stand out in the motor racing circuit, revealed a brand new design that saw a significant change of its traditional black and red cars by introducing a significant component of white with a touch of grey. This eye catching design is created to capture the attention of the 684 million people who will be following APRC on television from over 160 countries across the world. The ER88 is designed to provide prominent awareness to its partners across the seven countries it will be competing in, with a population base of over 2.5 billion people.

Launch of the APRC Team CEO/ Principal of EZY Racing, Shafraz Hamzadeen whose sheer hard work and tenacity has made EZY Racing’s dreams of racing on the international circuits a reality, addressed the media on EZY Racing’s intentions of transforming the Sri Lankan motor racing brand into an internationally followed one, with the launch of the APRC Team. “When we entered the sport five years back, we realised that there was immense scope in local motor racing. Our vision was first to start local and then go on to become the very first Sri Lankan team to represent the country overseas in a FIA sanctioned event. Today, we announce the beginning of our international journey in motor racing. The fact that we have been able to achieve this status 1 year in advance of the originally intended time frame which was 2015, speaks volumes of the great heights we have achieved within a short period of time. This achievement is a true testimony to the hard work and commitment of our team which includes the race drivers, support crew, business team and commercial team, who together have exhibited, right from the beginning, true grit. I have great pleasure in announcing that multiple national champion Dinesh Deheragoda will become the newest addition to EZY Racing’s coveted driver line up and will represent the brand EZY Racing exclusively internationally.”

Dinesh Deheragoda

The multiple National Champion Deheragoda who has won over 272 podium finishes in an illustrious career spanning over 17 years, will possibly become the first Sri Lankan driver to compete in a FIA governed race internationally and will create history when he takes the wheels of ER88 on 15, 16 and 17 August in Malaysia. Deheragoda who has previously run three international rallies on his own, with this announcement will be transforming his career purely as an international race driver and will not participate in local motor racing, unless required by EZY Racing for their icon events in the country. “I feel proud to be a part of a professional racing team and it’s a first for me. The biggest difference for me is the approach towards the sport from a professional racing standpoint, which is different to what I have experienced in the past. The responsibility of representing EZY Racing puts that additional pressure of meeting higher demands due to the benchmark set, and I am determined to live up to these expectations. My level of confidence is high as most of the work that I as an individual driver would have had to do is taken care of by the team. This eases my work which in turn gives me additional time to focus on my racing. I am looking forward to my new partnership with EZY Racing for many years to come and hopefully with a vision of one day to go beyond the borders of APRC.

ER88 is a car which is fully prepared and equipped to be competitive as it could possibly be, within the parameters of the FIA Homologation for the Lancer EVO X RS in FIA class 2. Hence I believe that the car should perform well. With fairness to myself, I have had just three outings with FIA-sanctioned rallies overseas, whereas my fellow competitors in the class have won FIA Championships, and the rest have won FIA sanctioned rallies outright. I guess with a few outings I should be able to challenge them and establish a strong presence of ER88 in the coming future,” said Deheragoda.

Vision for EZY Racing

Addressing the media and the exclusively-selected invitees which comprised industry leaders, Hamzadeen presented his vision for EZY Racing over the next five years, where he envisions EZY Racing transforming itself to be a transnational brand that will follow the APRC team around Asia Pacific. “In June this year we set up our very first overseas operations in Pakistan with a vision to expand it to five other countries, namely Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. This will give us a presence of seven countries (including Sri Lanka), with a population base of 600 million people where we will be working to create passion towards motor racing and followership of our brand EZY Racing. We plan to do this through a two-stage approach, namely where we focus on strengthening the brand EZY Racing and also developing the sport amongst the public. Both these will operate simultaneously where our focus will be on creating grass root level engagement with the public through the EZY Racing events which we will refer to as RIMP (Racing Is My Passion)

events. Hopefully by engaging in these, we will be able to socially engage with the population in these countries, most of which are socially emergent . We believe that this early interaction will help us increase the followership for our APRC Rally Team when they compete internationally, giving all our fans in these countries a common factor to believe in and support. ”

Shahid Mahmud, CEO of the Dubai based Interactive Group, addressing the audience said that through their partnership with EZY Racing, Interactive looked forward to increasing their organisation’s awareness in the Asia Pacific Region. “Our partnership with EZY Racing provides us a great platform to showcase our company to a global audience. APRC provides us a the ideal dais to enter countries with our innovative products and solutions which we intend on making use of, through our partnership with EZY Racing,” said Mahmud.

EZY Racing will be competing in the Asia Cup of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in 2014 where they will be competing in Malaysia in August, Japan in September, China in November and concluding the year with Thailand in December. The team intends competing in the entire Asia Pacific Championship in 2015 with Rally New Zealand, starting March 2015.

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