Drivers representing five countries headline a top-flight entry list for the annual International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast on 17-19 June, all competitors chasing the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Cup powered by Würth.
Hosting rounds of the FIA Asia Pacific, Australian and State Rally Championships, Queensland’s only international motorsport event has attracted more than 40 entries to tackle 240 kilometres of challenging forest stages around Imbil, in the Coast’s northern hinterland.
The entry list is headed by India’s MRF Tyres team, winner of five of the past six events and of every APRC driver and manufacturer title since 2012. Their factory-backed Skoda Fabia R5 cars – new this year from the Czech Republic – will be driven by 2010 Queensland winner and 2013 champion Gaurav Gill of India and 24-year-old German Fabian Kreim, the latest in a parade of young European hot-shots assigned Down Under to develop their skills.
Gill leads the championship after winning Round 1 in New Zealand last month. The series also will visit China, Japan and Malaysia before finishing in his homeland in December.
Other drivers entered for Queensland this year are from Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Starting his sixth season of international rallying, New Zealand’s Mike Young, 24, showed he will be the defending champions’ strongest rival in the APRC’s second round after claiming several stage wins aboard his Cusco EZY Racing Subaru in his home event.
Young’s team-mate and making a welcome return to the APRC Sanjay Takale from India, will be hoping for a better result in Australia after a DNF in the New Zealand first round.
Australia’s challenge will be led by Coffs Harbour-based Nathan Quinn. The Mitsubishi driver has had extensive international experience from China to New Zealand and twice completed the Rally Australia World Championship event.
Japan is well represented with two drivers, Queensland regular Atsushi Masamura in the PCD Engineering Mitsubishi X and also hoping for a better run in Australia, Fuyuhiko Takahashi in the Ahresty Subaru Impreza. Further representation from Australia comes from Mark Beard driving a Subaru Impreza RS.
All eight drivers will be chasing the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Cup powered by Würth. http://www.rallyqueensland.com.au/morenews/360–international-drivers-chase-wuerth-cup
PHOTOS: Ross Hyde and Asia Pacific Sports Media