Wet Weekend in Malaysia?

After two rounds in the Pacific, the 2018 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship moves to Asia and the International Rally of Johor. The Malaysian event is arguably the toughest on the calendar, due to the terrain and the terrible heat, often reaching 60 degrees C inside the cars.

For championship leader Yuya Sumiyama from Japan his goal is simply to finish and score points. With his main rival for the driver’s championship title Fabio Frisiero not running in Malaysia, Sumiyama knows he can build a useful buffer of points simply by finishing.

Yuya Sumiyama, Malaysia Rally 2018
But that’s easier said than done, especially after a wet recce that saw many competitors stuck or off the road. “Rain condition means its very slippery and very difficult. My goal is simple – Finish!”, the Cusco Skoda R5 driver said after this morning’s shakedown.

Sumiyama’s main challenge will come from his Cusco team-mate New Zealander, Mike Young. The young Kiwi has had a difficult start to the season with two DNF’s, however Young has plenty of experience of the Malaysian conditions having competed at the 6 times, the first being 2012.

Mike Young, Malaysia Rally 2018
He and co-driver Malcolm Read, retired from the 2018 International Rally of Whangarei with engine issues, but recovered in Canberra to be running well before a final stage disaster with a failed clutch forced them out of the event.

“We are completely focussed on the Johur Rally now,” he confirmed “The Cusco team have been working hard and installed a new clutch, rear diff and rear suspension. A lot of work has gone into keeping the TRD engine cool and after a good test and shakedown they look to have that sorted too – its now up to Malcolm and I to bring it home”.

After skipping the Pacific rounds PG Abilash returns to the championship intent on winning the APRC 2 category and Asia Cup in his Group N Subaru Impreza. The Indian driver competed in two events in Dubai prior to Malaysia and the experience has given him some extra confidence in his driving “the events in Dubai were on sand and very slippery, now we’re back to our own terrain which is fast, but very dicey and slippery. Our goal is to finish and finish well”.

The APRC field is completed with local driver Abdul Kaathir driving a 2WD Satria Neo, while behind are a further 30 cars entered in the local Malaysian Rally Championship, one of the largest entries in many years.