Team MRF have finished off the perfect Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) season by claiming victory in the Longyou China Rally – the sixth successive event win in a row for the team. Czech driver, and the new APRC champion, Jan Kopecky, claimed a dominant win on the event, after his Skoda Fabia S2000 mastered the tricky conditions.
It wasn’t the full fairy-tale finish for Team MRF however, with Kopecky’s team-mate, Indian Gaurav Gill, retiring from event on day one after hitting a rock and breaking his car’s steering.
It was the fourth win of the season for Kopecky and co-driver, Pavel Dresler, and he couldn’t have been happier, having last year won the European Rally
“It’s been a great year and thanks a lot to the whole team,” a jubilant Kopecky said after the event. “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.”
The event’s stages were a mixture of gravel and concrete roads, which made tyre choice difficult, particularly in such wet conditions. Gill had led by seven seconds mid-way through the first day, despite a spin which cost him 17 seconds, but then a heavy impact with a rock broke his steering and he was forced out of the running.
There was no such problem for Kopecky though, who eventually cruised to a comprehensive victory of nearly four minutes ahead of Japan’s Yuya Sumiyama, with New Zealander Michael Young in third place.
While Kopecky won the overall driver’s title, Gill finished third, Team MRF won the Teams Trophy, and Skoda convincingly took out the Manufacturers award.
“To win our fifth Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and our third in a row for Team MRF, is a wonderful achievement,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said. “Although both Jan and Gaurav have suffered some misfortune this season, we have again proved that the Skoda Fabia S2000 is the car to beat in the APRC.
“Winning all six events that we contested this year is something that the team are all very proud of, and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts throughout the season.
“Our MRF tyres worked extremely well on the mixed surfaces here in China, and helped to ensure our success.
“We’ll be celebrating this victory, and then looking ahead to the 2015 season.
“Again this year we’ve proved that the partnership of MRF Tyres and the Skoda Fabia is the perfect combination.”
Final Results – China Rally, Round 6 of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
1. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler, 2h57m10.3s
2. Yuya Sumiyama / Naoki Kase, + 3m57.2s
3. Michael Young / Malcolm Read, + 24m52.2s
4. Dinesh Deheragoda/ Shafraz Junaid, + 56m46.0m
Final Asia-Pacific Rally Championship points APRC
1. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler 190
2. Michael Young / Malcolm Read 118
3. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall 104
4. Jun Xu / Sheng Liu 97
5. Mark Pedder / Claire Dowling 90
1. Team MRF Skoda 297
2. Cusco Racing 286
1. Skoda 231
2. Mitsubishi 114
3. Subaru 112
4. Proton 97
5. Renault 45