Jan Kopecký driving an MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 won the China Rally by more than three minutes reinforcing his and Skoda’s dominance of the series in 2014.
Kopecký’s task was made easier on Day 1, when team-mate Gaurav Gill who was leading the event at the time, hit a rock on Stage 5 that damaged the Skoda’s steering – resulting in a heavy crash and retirement on Stage 6.
Arriving back at final service in Longyou there were big celebrations with the team and with four wins out of six events, Kopecký was obviously very happy. “It’s been a great year and thanks a lot to the whole team it was a great opportunity in APRC and hopefully I can come back for some rallies in the future. I think the highlight is we won the championship, our team-mate Gaurav was very strong, he knows the conditions and we managed to beat him. I’m very happy we showed that Skoda is really strong, a really strong brand and we showed to everyone our car is really fantastic.”
Japan’s Yuya Sumiyama in a Group N Cusco Subaru was second overall and secured enough points, with one round in Thailand still to run, to win the 2014 Asia Cup for a third time. “Asia Cup champion and overall 2nd position, very very happy and good result for the team. The conditions were very slippery and rough condition so we’re lucky”, said Sumiyama at final service.
It was another giant killing performance from New Zealander Mike Young bringing his Cusco Proton Satria home third overall and securing the APRC Production Cup. Young was the only driver to finish all events in 2014 and in doing so moved himself into second place in the drivers points.
“Its amazing for our team and Cusco, the boys worked so well, not even had a mechanical (problem) this year – we’re over the moon! Malcolm’s done an awesome job all year, kept me on my toes and in the grove so we’re really happy. Consistency has rewarded us with second in the championship in a 1.6 Proton, against all the four-wheel drive cars it’s just awesome”.
In only his third APRC event EZY Racing’s Dinesh Deheragoda from Sri Lanka found the conditions very difficult, but is looking forward to the next event in Thailand where he hopes to secure second in the Asia Cup, “Points for second in Asia Cup is more than I expected and my congratulations to Sumiyama who is already the Asia Cup champion mathematically. My target now is to see if I can finish second in the championship with some more points in Thailand.”
China Rally again proved to be a tough event to finish, especially with the wet conditions on Day 1. Australian Mark Pedder suffered the same fate as Gill hitting a rock on Stage 5 and retiring with damaged steering.
There was no finish ceremony or celebrations at 2014 China Rally, after an accident on Stage 6 claimed the life of 20 year old Taiwanese driver Xie Chengxun.
China was the final event in the APRC’ s drivers and manufacturers, while there is still one round to go in the Asia Cup with Thailand Rally 5 – 7th December.
Provisional Results – China Rally 7-9th November, Round 6 of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
1. Jan KOPECKY / Pavel DRESLER, 02:57:10.3
2. Yuya SUMIYAMA / Naoki KASE, + 03:57.2
3. Michael YOUNG / Malcolm READ, + 24:52.2
4. Dinesh DEHERAGODA/ Shafraz JUNAID, + 56:46.0
Story and photos by Brian Young – apsm.tv. Additional photos by Mitsura Kotake