2002 Archive



RALLY THAILAND
Caldarola Wins In Style
01DEC02


Outright victory came as the icing on the cake for Nico Caldarola on the Rally of Thailand, allowing the Italian to wrap up his Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Production Class title in style.

Secure in second place and cruising to Sunday’s finish, the Top Run Racing Team Mitsubishi driver was handed the win on a plate when rally-long leader Karamjit Singh was forced to stop on the penultimate stage when his Proton Pert suffered a sudden loss of oil pressure.

“This is a fantastic feeling,” said Caldarola who, in winning the APRC Group N title, scored the biggest success in his 20-year rallying career. “To win the rally as well makes it a complete result.”

Karamjit’s engine problem was probably a consequence of a heavy landing off a jump on the day’s second special stage, which ripped the Proton’s sump guard off, damaged the turbo intercooler, and broke the power steering.

The same jump spelt the end of the rally for 2-litre Cup leader Nobuhiro Tajima, who started the day in seventh place overall. The Japanese driver landed heavily, hurting his back, and smashing the front suspension of his Suzuki Ignis Super 1600. He left the stage in an ambulance as a precautionary measure, but was able to return to the team’s hotel after treatment.

A couple of kilometres further on Stuart Warren, Caldarola’s only remaining rival in the Asia Pacific Production Class title fight, rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer. Amazingly, his fellow New Zealander and MRF Team running mate Reece Jones did exactly the same thing on the same stage. Unlike Tajima, though, both drivers were able to continue.

Together with Caldarola, Englishman John Lloyd was one of the few APRC contenders keeping his composure over the final stages. He continued to score an excellent second-place overall, and beat the rally winner to the honour of being the fastest driver over the final leg by six seconds.

“It has been an awful season for me up until now, but it is great to end it on a high like this,” he admitted. “The car hasn’t missed a beat, and I am really happy with the way I have driven.”

Third place was claimed by Thai Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Sakchai Hantrakul, who prospered as those around him struck trouble, even managing to win a stage on the final leg outright.

Jones finished fifth despite his roll, with team mate Warren two places behind in seventh. Placed eighth overall at the finish, Frenchman Jean-Louis Leyraud was the only other APRC-registered driver to complete the three day event, which was the sixth and final event of the 2002 series.

Already confirmed as the overall APRC champion for the year, Karamjit ended the series with a 22 point lead over Caladrola. Karamjit’s demise also allowed Mitsubishi to secure the APRC manufacturer’s award by a narrow margin.

Caldarola claimed the Production Class award by 20 points from Warren, while Tajima and Suzuki were confirmed as winners in the 2-litre Cup.

RESULTS

Rally of Thailand- Final Overall (Provisional)

1 Nico Caldarola (Italy) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 2h38m00s
2 John Lloyd (UK) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 +3m19s
3 Sakchai Hantrakul (Thailand) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 +1m04s
4 Reece Jones (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 +4m59s
5 Vorapot Bunchuaylua (Thailand) Honda Civic +9m49s
6 Stuart Warren (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 +6m17s
7 Vichien Valailak (Thailand) Honda Civic +29s
8 Jean-Louis Leyraud (France) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 +38s
9 Atsushi Kitano (Japan) Honda Civic +1m55s
10 Chattham Promnok (Thailand) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 +3m20s

Asia-Pacfic Rally Championship Final Standings (Provisional)

APRC Overall Standings
1 Karamjit Singh 70pts
2 Nico Caldarola 48pts
3= Stuart Warren & Reece Jones 25pts
5 John Lloyd 13pts
6 Jean-Louis Leyraud 9pts

APRC Group N
1 Nico Caldarola 77pts
2 Stuart Warren 57pts
3 Reece Jones 40pts
5 Jean-Louis Leyraud 16pts

APRC Manufacturers
1 Mitsubishi 69pts
2 Proton 70pts

APRC Co-drivers
1 Allen Oh 64pts
2 Giovanni Agnese 48pts
3= Darryl Judd & Jeff Judd 25pts
5 Pauline Gullick 13pts
6 Jan McKay 8pts

2-Litre Cup
1 Nobuhiro Tajima 40pts




Karamjit Consolidates Lead
30NOV02

Power steering failure was all that stood in the way of a clean-sweep of special stage wins for Karamjit Singh on Saturday’s second leg of the 2002 Rally of Thailand.

The Malaysian Proton Pert driver had won eight stages in a row – including those on Friday’s opening leg – before the power steering problem struck on the ninth stage. He battled through the 21km test, coming near to collapsing at the effort towards the end, but still managed fourth fastest time.

With the problem rectified, Karamjit quickly re-asserted his dominance, winning the remaining three stages of the day, and extending his overall lead to more than three minutes over second-placed Nico Caldarola.

Caladarola, for his part, moved a further step closer to the biggest championship title of his 20 year career in rallying: The Italian Top Run Racing driver now needs only to cruise to the finish of the rally’s third and final leg to be assured of victory in the 2002 Asia-Pacific Production Class.

“Tomorrow could be the slowest day’s rallying of my life,” he admitted. “But at the same time I must maintain my concentration.”

The Roman’s only remaining championship rival, Stuart Warren of New Zealand, was already offering his rival a congratulatory handshake at the end of today’s second leg.

“My only hope his mathematical,” said the MRF team driver, who was third-fastest over today’s stages, and climbed from 18th to 10th overall as a result. “Nico should win the title tomorrow, and he will deserve it.”

Several drivers suffered major disappointment over today’s nine stages.

They included Alistair Cavenagh. The former Kenyan champion seemed secure in third place when the prop shaft of his Mitsubishi Lancer broke on the start line of the day’s penultimate stage. Earlier in the day, Caldarola’s team mate Noberto Cangani crashed heavily, on a deceptive high-speed bend that also claimed two local drivers.

Another Thai driver, Tawatchai Pasomsup, dropped from fourth place after suffering mechanical problems early in the leg. Helped by his demise, and that of Cavenagh, Englishman John Lloyd climbed from fifth to third overall, despite problems along the way.

Provisionally placed fourth at the end of the second leg, Sakchai Hantrakul driver was the best of the locals.

He was followed in the overall standings by New Zealander Reece Jones, whose service crew performed miracles in replacing his gearbox after problems early in the day.

Japanese ace Nobuhiro Tajima lay seventh overall in his Suzuki Ignis Super 1600.

Frenchman Jean-Louis Leyraud was the other Asia-Pacific series driver to finish the leg, and was placed 13th overall. He would have been placed far higher in the standings, but for a string of problems that interrupted his excellent start to the day.




Italian moves closer to Asia-Pacific Title
29NOV02

While Karamjit Singh raced into a commanding lead on the opening leg of the Rally of Thailand, second-placed Nico Caldarola took a further step towards the Asia-Pacific Production Class crown.

Karamjit, who clinched the outright Asia-Pacific title at last month’s penultimate round in China, said he was “relaxed and having fun,” as he piloted his Group A Proton Pert to a handy 1m27sec lead over Friday’s four stages.

Behind him, Caldarola was closely marked by Kenyan Alistair Cavenagh in the battle for second place and Group N production class honours on leg one, but was more interested in monitoring the performance of his championship rival, expatriate New Zealander Stuart Warren.

Fortunately for Caldarola, Warren – who needs to defeat the Italian by a handy margin on this event to claim the title – struck serious trouble on the opening stage, when he ran off the road. As well as losing time, Warren damaged his car’s intercooler in the accident, and lost over 15 minutes in total.

Brake problems followed, costing Warren further time. He ended the leg in 18th overall and eighth amongst the Asia-Pacific field. As a result, Caldarola is virtually assured of securing the Production Class title so long as he completes the remaining two legs of the rally.

“My plan is still drive aggressively on leg two, but then I will take it more easily on the final day if my position is secure,” Caldarola said.

Cavenagh, for his part, put recent tragic events in his home town of Mombassa out of his mind to turn on his best driving performance of the season.

“It is terrible what has happened and I have been on the phone to people at home, but what can you do?” he says. “Today’s stages have been rough in parts, which is what I am used to back home, and that has helped my performance.”

Tawatchai Pasomsup ended the opening leg in fourth place, and first of the locals.

Behind him, Englishman John Lloyd was delighted to hold down fifth place. However, he felt that the rough stages of the opening leg had suited him particularly well, and admitted that improving on his position on the smoother stages of legs two and three would be a challenge.

Warren’s Kiwi team mate Reece Jones was placed eighth overall and third in the APRC Group N field, having lost time stopping to tow his MRF Team partner back onto the road on the first stage. Jones later struggled with a centre differential problem.

Despite a puncture, Suzuki Ingnis driver Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima ended leg one in 10th, first of the two-wheel-drives, and sixth of the Asia-Pacific field.

“Today’s stages have been very slippery and rough in parts, which does not suit a two-wheel-drive car like mine,” he said. “But things should improve from here.”

Frenchman Jean-Louis Leyraud was frustrated to end the day in 14th overall after going off on the same corner twice. Brian Green, the other Asia-Pacific championship competitor on this event, retired with a blown motor.




World Champion heads Thailand Rally Entry

Newly crowned world production class world champion Karamjit Singh is the top seed for this week’s 14th International Rally of Thailand, the sixth and final round of the 2002 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

As well as claiming his first world title, the Malaysian driver has already completed a successful defence of the Asia-Pacific crown he first earned in 2001. His aim for the 29 November-1 December Thai event is simple; to take his Group A EON Proton Pert to its third outright victory of the 2002 series.

Behind Karamjit, all eyes will be focussed on the battle for the APRC Group N title between second-seeded Italian Top Run Racing Team driver Nico Caldarola and third-seeded Australian-based New Zealander Stu Warren, both in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIIs. Caldarola holds the upper hand heading for Thailand, having ended his rival’s Group N winning streak with a fine drive on last month’s China Rally

Even if Warren scores an all-the-way win, Caldarola will secure the title by running second from start to finish.

But Warren’s MRF team have boosted their driver’s chances by adding former Kiwi champion Reece Jones to their line-up for Thailand. Jones, who has frequently been the fastest Group N driver in the pack on previous APRC rounds will try to play a spoiling role in support of Warren.

Others with the potential to influence the Group N championship battle are former Kenyan champion Alistair Cavenagh, and New Caladonian Jean-Louis Leyraud, who are seeded fifth and eighth in Lancer Evo VIs.

Sixth seed Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima needs only to cross the start ramp to win the APRC 2-litre title, but the Japanese Suzuki Ignis driver will be hoping to end his season with a strong performance.

Seeded ninth and tenth Group A Lancer drivers Brian Green (New Zealand) and John Lloyd (England) are the other APRC championship drivers contesting the event. Carrying number seven on the side of his Lancer Evo 6, Jirapat Promnok is top-seeded local driver.

Starting this Friday, the Rally of Thailand will be run in Royong Province, 180 kilometres south east of Bangkok. The event is scheduled to comprise 16 stages totalling some 260 kilometres.




Lloyd aims high

John Lloyd is confident of ending his season on a high when he tackles the International Rally of Thailand from November 29 to December 1.

The gruelling three-day gravel event is the final round of the highly prestigious FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and is held in the Rayong Province of Thailand. It will be the second time Jardine Lloyd Thompson-backed Lloyd and co-driver Pauline Gullick have tackled the event.

"We know from last year that the roads are extremely quick and present a real challenge," said Lloyd, who was awarded an FIA 'B' seed after finishing third overall in last year's championship. "As long as it is dry I am confident we can run well up in the top six, but if it is wet it can be hard to maintain your confidence at such high speeds.

"There is a strong field of ten international entries, as well as some local drivers who are very talented and who have good cars at their disposal, so we will have to judge the pace and decide what speed we have to drive at to get a good result."

Lloyd and Gullick will be competing in a Neil Allport Motorsport-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, and are confident of a strong run following their points-scoring drive on the previous round of the championship, the Shaoguan Rally of China.

"We are really looking to end the season on a high, because we know that the car is strong enough to deal with the conditions," said Lloyd. "This season we have competed all over the world, but have only managed two finishes from ten events. Crucially, though, both those finishes have been in cars prepared by Neil Allport Motorsport.

"If it is dry I will be as happy as anything, and you can get a real buzz on the roads in Thailand because they are so fast and flowing. It would be great for everyone in the team if we could add some more points, because when we finished in New Zealand and China we were able to add to our tally on both occasions."

Lloyd, who arrives fresh from competing alongside Gullick on the final round of the World Rally Championship, the Network Q Rally Great Britain, earlier this month, will form part of a four-car Neil Allport Motorsport squad. He will be joined in the team by Kenyans Alastair Cavenagh/Saleem Haji, French-New Zealand combination Jean-Louis Leyrand/Raymond Bennett and New Zealand duo Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen.

For further information on John Lloyd's entry on the International Rally of Thailand please contact Pauline Gullick on +44 7971529721




Jones joins MRF Team for Thailand

Reece Jones had a good result in China, but also got some bad news with longtime sponsor Falken Tyres deciding to go circuit racing in 2003.

Jones said, " The Rally in China was my last contracted drive with long time sponsor Falken and the MRF team have invited me to be one of their drivers for the Rally of Thailand. This is a great opportunity for me not only to experience a new team but also to complete the 2002 APRC series. I am also benefiting from driving the roads in Thailand assuming I can get a program together for 2003 and am looking forward to competing on the new generation MRF tyres"




Ecstatic Singh takes 2002 Production Car World Rally Championship
and second title of the year


Karamjit Singh made history today by becoming the first Malaysian driver to be crowned Production Car World Rally Champion*. Claiming a strong third position and four championship winning points on the final leg of the Telstra Rally Australia means that Karam and co-driver Allen Oh take their first World Championship title with a total of 32 points. A perfect end to a perfect year, today's result also makes the Malaysian duo the first drivers to win both the FIA Asia Pacifc Rally Championship as well as the FIA Production Car World Rally title in the same year.

Stormy weather, heavy rain and low temperatures may have hampered the first two Legs of the 2002 Telstra Rally Australia, but this morning gave a different picture as beautiful sunny skies accompanied crews as they travelled south-east to the SOTICO pine plantation for four final tests. With Legs 1 and 2 of the event claiming the retirement of 23 competitors 46 crews prepared themselves for the remaining 105.69 competitive kilometres of Leg 3, a day of crowd pleasing action over the famous Bunnings jumps and numerous watersplashes, providing spectators with some of the best viewing opportunities seen anywhere in the World Championship.

Despite fine weather and dry conditions today's four stages were to prove extremely demanding, fast, long, tree lined straights, slippery loose gravel conditions and harsh rocky terrain leaving very little margin for error.

After a controlled and tactical drive yesterday to secure a strong third position Karam kept his focus this morning to keep rival Ramon Ferreyros firmly in check. The plan for the today had been to stay as close as possible to the Peruvian driver and match his pace and this he did to perfection. On the opening test, the 5.63km Bannister central, a demanding stage run on loose marble like gravel, Karam was less than a second off Ferreyros' pace.

Testimony to the great experience and maturity of the newly crowned 2002 Asia Pacific Champion, a determined drive through SS22 and SS23, the long 34.57km Bannister West stage, saw Karam shadow Ferreyros to stay within a second of his time to maintain a comfortable 18 second lead over the Peruvian driver.

Knowing that all he had to do was hold on to position, a mixture of tension and excitement built in service as Karam and Allen made their way to the final 36.84km Bannister North stage. All fears set aside the invincible duo drove faultlessly through the final long demanding test to take their first Production Car World Rally Championship, a remarkable achievement considering it was at their first attempt.

A truly elated Singh comments: "I am absolutely over the moon, it's a truly fantastic result for us and an absolutely amazing feeling. I knew yesterday when (Kristian) Sohlberg went out that it was within our reach we just had to keep going. I was really nervous today but all we had to do was maintain position and keep Ramon (Ferreyros) behind us. I am the first Asian driver to win the Production Car World Rally Championship and that makes me feel very proud. To win both the Asia Pacific Championship and the Production Car World Rally Championship in one year is a dream for us and a truly fantastic result for the whole team."

Final 2002 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship standings:

1) Karamjit Singh 32pts
2) Kristian Sohlberg 26pts
3) Ramon Ferreyros 23pts
4) Toshihiro Arai 22pts
5) Alex Fiorio 22pts
6) Gustavo Trelles 12pts
*Subject to final FIA confirmation




Email from Possum

Hi all, Heres a photo from the finish ramp on the Alpine rally in Japan (next year to be part of the APRC).

It was a great event and one I enjoyed and learnt a lot from. We had a great 1, 2 finish for Subaru with Toshi (Arai) winning so with this and the Hokkaido event we won 6 weeks ago it was a great venture to Japan. We now look forward to Rally Australia and the target of trying to win Gp N. Many Thanks to all those who helped put it together for us, and a special thanks to STi, Pirelli, and Alpine rally for their support.

Best Regards
POSSUM




Rally of China
Karamjit Retains Asia-Pacific Title

21OCT02

Karamjit Singh is now free to focus on his final-round bid for the world rally championship Production Class crown after securing a consecutive Asia-Pacific title with a commanding win on the China Rally.

Driving a Group A Proton Pert, the Malaysian Petronas EON Racing driver led from the start to the finish of the Shaoguan-based event, extending by more than half a minute on Monday's final leg to run out the winner by 4m44sec. He now has an unbeatable lead in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with one round - the Rally of Thailand - still to run.

"We are very happy with the result, in fact we are delighted," admitted Karamjit, whose navigator Allen Oh is also confirmed as the APRC's champion co-driver with the win. "It hasn't been too tough on today's final leg, and now the feeling is fantastic."

"We will have to work very hard to secure the world title on Rally Australia [which starts next Friday] but this result will help my confidence. And we can look forward to going on to Thailand and enjoying the event with less pressure."

Behind Karamjit, a fast and furious battle for runner-up honours and the Group N win raged until the final special stage, with Nico Caldarola - last year's China Rally winner - coming out ahead, by a slender 9.4sec margin from fellow Lancer Evo 7 driver Stuart Warren.

The Italian had started the day 2.6 secs in arrears of his Australian-based Kiwi rival after landing a one minute time penalty for clocking in early to the final time control on leg two. He fought back superbly, regaining second place overall on the day's opening stage, and gradually opening out a narrow advantage.

Despite driving his heart out, MRF Tyres driver Warren admitted he was powerless to match his Top Run Racing rival on the day's fast, hard-packed stages, which were run in dry conditions.

Thanks to his third place overall and Group N runner-up result, Warren remains in contention for the APRC Production class title. However, to secure it he will need to win Group N on the final round in Thailand, lead the category at the end of each of the rally's legs, and rely on Caldarola doing worse than finishing second on each count.

Ready to pounce if either of the Group N drivers ahead struck trouble, New Zealander Reece Jones continued his storming leg two form on Monday, winning two stages outright, and securing second-fastest time overall for the leg behind the rally winner.

Regaining confidence after struggling in leg two's damp conditions, Englishman John Lloyd had a solid day behind the wheel, coming home fifth overall behind Jones.

Sixth overall honours went to Shaoguan driver Hua Qingxian, who has been impressive all rally in his Lancer Evo 6. One place behind, husband-and-wife pairing Wen Fan and Zhou Li were delighted to wrap up the Chinese Group N championship with their result.

Chan Chi Wah, Ren Zhigup and Cai Ming completed the top ten. The other noteworthy finisher was VW Polo driver Wang Rui, who scooped the Chinese 1600cc championship title with a fine drive to 12th overall.

The APRC continues with the Rally of Thailand at the end of November.

China Rally Final Results

1 Karamjit Singh (Malaysia) Proton Pert 3h25m40.9s
2 Nico Caldarola (Italy) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 +4m44.5s
3 Stuart Warren (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 +4m53.6s
4 Reece Jones (NZ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 +5m27.5s
5 John Lloyd (UK) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 +14m15.9s
6 Hua Qingxian (China) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 +20m40.1s
7 Wen Fan (China) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 +21m41.0s
8 Chan Chi Wah (China) Subaru Impreza WRX +22m23.1s
9 Ren Zhiguo (China) Subaru Impreza WRX +23m32.2ss
10 Cai Ming (China) Subaru Impreza WRX +24m44.4s

Asia-Pacfic Rally Championship Standings After 5 of 6 rounds

APRC Overall Standings
1 Singh 64pts
2 Caldarola 35pts
3 Bourne 24pts
4= Warren & Jones 21pts
6 Mazlan 14pts

APRC Manufacturers
1 Mitsubishi 69pts
2 Proton 64pts
3 Subaru 32pts
4 Hyundai 14 pts

APRC Co-drivers 1 Oh 64pts

2 Agnese 35pts
3 Stacey 24pts
4= D. Judd & J. Judd 21pts
6 Freeman 14pts

APRC Group N
1 Caldarola 65pts
2 Warren 51pts
3 Jones 31pts
4 Cavenagh 13pts
5 Leyraud 11pts
6 Bourne 6pts


2-Litre Cup
1 Tajima 31pts




Kiwis Storm on Wet China Rally
20OCT02

While Group A Proton driver Karamjit Singh consolidated his China Rally lead over today's rain-soaked second leg, New Zealand drivers Stu Warren and Reece Jones piled on the pressure in a bid to topple second-placed Nico Caldarola from his position at the head of the Group N Asia-Pacific Rally Championship field.

The Italian Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 driver started leg two as he had ended leg one -setting fastest Group N time on two stages - but that was before the weather took a turn for the worse. Then, unsettled by the damp conditions, which presented the difficult combination of a slippery road surface over a hard base, he struggled to maintain his pace.

"Incredible, incredible," Caldarola declared as the rain poured down. "Last year we had a 40 degree temperature and sunshine. Now we have this…."

By contrast, his antipodean rivals revealed in the conditions.

MRF Lancer Evo 7 driver Warren, who started the leg in third place, 1m26secs behind his championship rival, chipped away at the deficit, overcoming a couple of half-spins to narrow the margin to just under a minute at the close of play for the day.

Recovering from time lost when he punctured on the opening leg, fellow Lancer Evo 7 pilot Jones turned on a stunning performance, bagging the quickest overall time for the leg. Much of Jones' ground was gained in the course of the last two stages, when the risky decision to select a soft compound Falken mud tyre played dividends in the form of back-to-back stage wins, each by a handsome margin.

Jones ended the leg in fourth place overall, just over a minute behind Warren, and fired up to attack on the rally's final leg. Warren too was keen to charge at the start of the last leg, both in a bid to stay ahead of Jones, and to apply pressure on Caldarola.

That leaves Karamajit Singh, who will wrap up this year's Asia-Pacific title if he can win the Shaoguan-based event, as the only top driver free to take what he describes as a "Sunday afternoon drive approach" to leg three.

Unhappy with his own ability to adapt to the damp roads, Group A Lancer Evo 6 driver John Lloyd slipped from fourth to fifth. The Englishman ended the leg several minutes behind Jones, but well ahead of his nearest rival.

Following the demise of Italy's Noberto Cangani with engine failure on the day's second stage, that rival was Chinese hard-charger Hua Qingxian. Driving a Group N Lancer Evo 6, Qingxian was happy with his own performance over the leg, but slipped back late in the day with an engine fault.

Mechanical problems also slowed last year's China Rally third place getter, Chan Chi Wah (Subaru Impreza WRX). He was overtaken in the race for seventh place by team mate and heir-apparent to Chinese Group N crown, Wen Fan (Lancer Evo 6).

Two further Chinese drivers - Ren Zhigao and Cai Ming - completed the top ten overall. The rally concludes with six special stages to the west of Shaoguan, totalling some 68 competitive kilometres.




HOKKAIDO IMPRESSIONS
David Thomson

Forget pre-conceived notions of crowded Japan; Rally Hokkaido is a rural and forestry affair, run on an island which – while Japan’s second largest in terms of size – is home to just 5% of the country’s population. The rally is based in the town of Obihro, a small (by Japanese standards) rural service centre of 170,000.

The flight into the city’s airport provided encouraging early view of gravel roads winding through hilly forests to the south of town. A couple of minutes later a large permanent race track came into view, and then we were on the ground.

The 20 minute drive from the airport to town reminded me of the regular trip I make from my home in Dunedin to the airport on the Taieri; fields of potatoes on one side, dairy farms on the other! The key differences? An 80kph speed limit that is rigidly adhered to by the locals (expect to cough up NZ$2000 if you’re caught at 100kph); tall overhead marker poles, that guide drivers in winter, when the snow can lie up to two metres deep for weeks on end.

The rally itself comprised 20 stages, all of them run twice. Aside from the two super specials, the shortest was just under 10km, and the longest a little more than 24km in length.

Popping into the rally service park after lunch at a small local ‘mama-san’ restaurant, the visiting drivers shared their impressions of the stages: Very tight and narrow, especially on the first and third days; Soft surfaces that would be prone to cutting up badly the second time through; steep banks on either side that left little chance of recovery from a major moment.

Another local trap are the small concrete drainage culverts that run across many of the stage, often in mid-corner. As the roads start to cut up, they become exposed, and can all to easily cause a puncture, smashed rim, or worse.

The unexpected rain that struck on the morning of the event only exacerbated these hazards. It also made for some fun moments getting to some of the more remote media points on the event, even in a Landcruiser 4WD.

The quality of the top Japanese drivers was impressive. We’ve seen the likes of Taguchi, Nutahara and Tajima drive well on Rally NZ before, but there is also a solid group of top national performers. They included Takuma Kamata, the only driver aside from Bourne, Taguchi or Singh to win a stage. Reigning national champion Norihiko Ayabe was also in good form before engine problems intervened on leg two.

This being Japan’s first International Rally, the organisers and officials were on a steep learning curve, but they were certainly out to learn as quickly as possible.

Both public and media access was tightly controlled, and in all cases restricted to designated spectator and media points. Rallying at this level is, in any case, so new to Japan that the number of fans was pretty low, except at the designated super specials.

Working as part of the official TV crew for the event, I enjoyed more privileges than most, but even then the marshals often became jumpy if you moved into the stage (on foot) after the TRIPLE zero had been through, and even more agitated if you walked out before the sweeper car!

The language barrier can be a wonderful asset in such situations. One thing was sure, whatever the issue, it was always worked through thoroughly, and with extreme politeness.

Other times, though, the officials couldn’t do enough to help: there aren’t too many rallies I’ve been to where the local police salute you as you drive into a mid-stage access point….nor can I remember having to wake a sleeping block marshal before politely asking him to move his car so we could get by.

The scenery is beautiful, in a very Kiwi way. We didn’t see any examples of the most dangerous local – the famous Hokkaido Brown Bear – on our treks through the forests, but there were deer, birds and the like.

Back in town at the end of each day, there was the fun of discovering a new place to eat, although in the end we settled on one favourite that was both friendly and reasonably priced (that’s $6 a beer we’re talking rather the $15 or more you’d pay in some places).

The official finish was a very polished affair, with international rally bigwigs such as Shekhar Mehta and Gabrielle Cadringer along to present the top prizes. They had been invited because Hokkaido is under observation as a possible candidate for inclusion in the world championship.




Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Hokkaido Rally, Japan
Bourne Relieved to Celebrate Hokkaido Win
08SEP02

A heart-stopping moment over an unexpected jump on the final special stage didn’t prevent Possum Bourne from scoring an historic triumph for Subaru on Japan’s first international championship rally, the 2002 Rally Hokkaido.

The last-gasp drama unfolded just seconds from the finish of the rally, on the seemingly innocuous crowd-pleasing super special stage that wrapped up this, the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Bourne became a temporary passenger when his Group A Impreza STi launched into the air, landed nose first, and slewed off the road. Fortunately he was able to regain control as the Impreza slid along a grassy bank on the side of the road, and completed the stage with nothing more than cosmetic damage to the car.

“Where did that jump come from? That section was nothing like that when we used the same stage two days ago,” exclaimed the shocked New Zealander after completing the stage. The answer lay in soft-based road surfaces that were a feature of the Hokkaido event, and which cut up even more badly than expected thanks to heavy rain early in the rally.

While Bourne managed to lead throughout, and finished with a comfortable 6m25sec winning margin, he was pushed most of the way by top Katsuhiko Taguchi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7).

After closing to within 8.5secs of Bourne at the end of day two, the Japanese Ralliart driver’s challenge started to fade with a niggling gearbox problem on the final morning. Punctures on consecutive stages then caused the local favourite’s retirement two stages from the finish.

Taguchi’s demise allowed Argentinian Marcos Ligato (Lancer Evo 6) through for well-deserved second placing overall, and victory in the Group N Production Class. The driver he battled with for Group N honours for much of the event - Hokkaido resident Fumio Nutahara - finished third overall in a Lancer Evo 7.

Another Japanese driver, Hiroshi Yanagisawa, claimed an outstanding fourth overall in a Group A Subaru Impreza, while Karamjit Singh (Malaysia, GpA Proton Pert) and Ed Ordynski (Australia, Gp Lancer Evo 7) completed the top six.

Singh, who had been placed third after leg one, dropped down the field during leg two with a puncture and turbo problems on leg two. A further puncture on leg three completed a difficult rally for the defending Asia-Pacific champion, but he still managed to salvage second-placed APRC points from the event, and so extend his overall series lead over Nico Caldarola.

Caldarola, by contrast, saw his advantage in the APRC Group N category trimmed to just 9 points thanks to the efforts of Australian-based New Zealander Stu Warren (Lancer Evo 7). As well as claiming the Group N APRC win for the round, Warren finished third overall amongst the APRC contenders on the way to seventh overall.

One place behind Warren on all three counts, New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud (GpN Lancer Evo 6) also drove astutely in the tough conditions. Delayed by a range of problems on leg two, Caldarola continue on to finish 10th, just behind Japanese Group A driver Yuya Sumiyama.

Indian driver Narren Kumar (Lancer Evo 7) was the sixth of the APRC drivers to finish, in 12th place overall. New Zealander Brian Green (Lancer Evo 6) was the only other APRC finisher, in 16th.

Amongst the other APRC drivers Reece Jones (NZ, Lancer Evo 7) and Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima (Japan, Suzuki Ignis Super 1600) both retired on each of the first two legs, but rejoined to score bonus series points on the final leg.

Andrew Hawkeswood (NZ, Lancer Evo 6) had a horror run, starting every day, but completing just two stages on the entire event. Haruo Takakawa (Japan, Impreza) also had a drama filled event, failing to complete a leg.

The next APRC round is the China Rally, in late October. Rally of New Caledonia - Day 3
02Jun02

For full Rally of New Caledonia results, times and positions please visit:
http://www.rallye-nc.net/files/english/results.php

Karamjit Wins - Caldarola Leads
Karamjit Singh Wins A dream run for Malaysian Karamjit Singh in his Proton PERT has put him back in contention for the APRC title taking a maximum 19 points for the 2002 Rally of New Caledonia, although Nico Caldarola remains championship leader after another good drive. The young Saladin is quickly coming to grips with his powerful Silverstone WRC Hyundai Accent and he cannot be far from an outright win.

The final day was run on the volcanic roads in the South, vastly different from the rest of the island. Singh was flying and even though he had a substantial lead felt he couldn’t slow down, “if you go slow you start day-dreaming and so I kept pushing hard. We had fun today and no punctures!” . No punctures for Singh but his Italian rival Caldarola did – on the 2nd stage of the morning losing his hard won 2nd position overall to Saladin, "it’s a beautiful day we won Group N and hold the overall lead for the championship”. Saladin finished 2nd and although six and half minutes behind the leader is really starting to push the car ‘Saladins’s not afraid of the power and pushes it hard. Sure he’s gone beyond the limits but he learns fast and his feed-back to the team is good –he has a bright future’ said his MSD team boss. Alistair Cavengh finished 4th overall and 2nd in Group N ‘we’ re pretty happy to pickup valuable points – we had an average day but overall the result is good” . Behind Cavenagh came perhaps the drive of the event Stu Warren from New Zealand, who recced only the first day and ran on borrowed notes’ “it was pretty scary'.

If there ever was event of contrasts this was it. Everyday has been different - different weather from pouring rain to searing sun, different terrain from twisty mountain roads to flat 190kph blind crests and dips. Road surfaces that include slippery mud, hard fast cambered gravel and red volcanic soil - a ball-bearing surface making these roads as slippery as ice even in the dry. Above all the Rally of New Caledonia is memorable for being a warm friendly event on a south-seas tropical island - and a little piece of France in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION - CLASSEMENT GENERAL
FIA ASIA PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIP


1 01 Karamjit SINGH Proton Pert A 8 1 1 2:39:32.0 - 2:39:32.0 **** ****
2 05 Saladin MAZLIN Hyundai Accent WRC A8 22 2:46:03.0 - 2:46:03.0 +6:31.0 +6:31.0
3 02 Nico CALDAROLA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII N 4 11 2:46:37.0 - 2:46:37.0 +7:05.0 +0:34.0
4 03 Alastair CAVENAGH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N 4 2 2 2:49:53.0 - 2:49:53.0 +10:21.0 +3:16.0
5 11 Stuart WARREN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N 4 3 3 2:53:17.0 - 2:53:17.0 +13:45.0 +3:24.0
6 18 Gael LECERF Audi A 8 3 3 2:55:04.0 - 2:55:04.0 +15:32.0 +1:47.0
7 09 Sean GRAY Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V N 4 4 4 2:55:42.0 - 2:55:42.0 +16:10.0 +0:38.0
8 08 Brian GREEN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI A 8 4 4 2:58:31.0 - 2:58:31.0 +18:59.0 +2:49.0
9 16 Patrick CHRISTIAN Audi S2 A 8 5 5 3:01:58.0 - 3:01:58.0 +22:26.0 +3:27.0
10 12 Eugene CREUGNET Subaru Impreza A 8 6 6 3:02:21.0 - 3:02:21.0 +22:49.0 +0:23.0




Rally of New Caledonia - Day 2
01Jun02

Paradise Returns
After yesterday's rain, the tropical sun returned - bringing with it heat, dust and mosquitoes! For the drivers in Rally of New Caledonia, two vastly different stages made up Day 2 - "Boghen," a fast uphill climb, dash across a Tablelands, then a steep, twisty descent - run three times. Then "Lebris," near the coast: Flat with many crests and dips and - for the faster cars - speeds of up to 190km/h…run twice. Due to the days of heavy rain, the infamous (tight and twisty) mountain stage, "Katrikoin," was cancelled.

Brian Green passes Eugene Creugnet after his roll The question for the day was whether young Malaysian Saladin Mazlin in his WRC Hyundai Accent, could catch his experienced countryman Karamjit Singh in his Proton PERT - registered Group A, but only mildly modified from its Group N form. The answer at the end of the day is that, while Karamjit was beaten on the odd stage he is still king - consistently quick, even though he's having his troubles: Four punctures so far on this event. Saladin tried hard and his spectacularly aggressive style has won him many fans - but an off on the second run through Lebris leaves him 4m 06s behind Singh.

"I went off near the end of the stage in some water - it took a while to get back on and then we had to get spectators to bump-start us, but otherwise I'm happy and the car is fantastic." Saladin's off has promoted Italian driver Caldarola into 2nd overall and Group N leader - the difference between the two being 11 seconds. Alastair Cavenagh is 4th and 2nd in Group N and having a trouble free run though "not too happy with my speed today: We were having a good battle with Reece Jones but now he's out with a blown head gasket, so tomorrow we'll be happy to keep our position," said Cavenagh after the main stages of the day. Stu Warren continues his good run, although he'd had never recced today's (or tomorrow's) stages due to his late entry and late arrival. Sean Gray is 6th overall, enjoying his first taste of international rallying and first local is Gael Lecerf in an Audi. Brian Green is 8th overall and happy with his position: "We're 3rd in APRC Group A, so we're going for a finish."

Nico Caldarola leads Group N Major casualties of the day include NZer Reece Jones (head gasket), Nobuhiro Tajima (driveshaft) and local Eugene Creugnet who rolled on the first stage of the day, but kept his Subaru in the event. Today also saw the return of local star Jean-Louis Leyraud - back to salvage some APRC points: "We're out of the event, but by coming second for the day we score 2 bonus points." Tomorrow the cars head south into the red-earth zone southeast of Noumea and then to the finish on the beachfront in Noumea.




Rally of New Caledonia - Day 1
31May02

Wet Start
Karamjit Singh Day one of Rally of New Caledonia was rain, mud and slippery roads. Leader for the day prior to the running of the evening superspecial is Karamjit Singh in his Group A Proton PERT, revelling in the unpredictable surfaces and enjoying a trouble free run except for two punctures. “I really need to win this event out-right to give myself and the team enough points for the championship. We decided to run Group A after getting no points in Canberra and we’ve already won the Group N title – now we want to win the Group A title”. Singh’s main opposition comes from countrymen and former team-mate Saladin Mazlin and today the Hyundai WRC driver proved he is easily capable of an outright win, taking a fastest time on the last stage and only prevented from more wins by a problem with the cars emergency cut-off switch, shutting down the power several times mid-stage.

Behind Saladin in 3rd place overall and 1st in Group N is Nico Caldarola having a clean run and lying 21 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Alistair Cavenagh in 4th. Recce Jones from New Zealand is currently 5th but his position will change whenMonster Tajima penalties are added for lateness out of service caused by an off in SS4 “it was so slippery – we ended up in the sea!!”. Kiwis and Mitsubishi’s take up the next positions with Stu Warren followed by Sean Gray and Brian Green. Eugene Creugnet driving a Subaru is first of the locals in 9th place. Nobuhiro Tajima and co-driver Julia Rabbett are currently in 11th in their Suzuki Ignis. Tajima is very happy with the car, “we have changed many things since Canberra and it is such a big difference – I really enjoyed today and now I have a good feeling for the cars future in World Rally Championship and Asia Pacific Rally.”

Story of the day was the early retirement of local legend Jean-Louis Leyraud. Having secured the budget to run further events in the APRC this year Leyraud was looking for a repeat win in his home event – but a few kilometres after completing stage one his turbo caught fire and he retired on the spot, “maybe the problem was caused in the last water-crossing because it came over the bonnet and some got into the engine – we’ll fix the problem and hopefully return tomorrow”.




26MAY02

The second round of the 2002 Asia Pacific Rally Championship is on the beautiful Pacific island of New Caledonia. Beginning on Friday 31st May the three day event will be based in the city of Noumea and run around coastal and mountian roads North and South of the city.





20MAY02

Last years Asia Pacific Rally Championship winner Karamjit Singh and Proton PERT finished 3rd in the FIA Production Car Class at World Rally Championship Rally of Argentina and 13th overall. This takes them to 2nd place in the production class championship with 14 points, in between Ferreyros (Mitsubishi), on 20 points, and Arai(Subaru) on 12.

Challenging for the lead in the latter stages of yesterday's leg, Karam, suffered suspension damage on SS18, losing over a minute to leader Ramon Ferreyros. With so much time lost and four extremely difficult stages left to run Karam put forward a skilful and considerate drive today, to maintain position and bring the car safely home.

"To come here for the first time and finish third is good result for us" commented Singh, "especially as a lot of our competitors were either locals or have competed here before. This isn't an easy rally and conditions have been so rough, especially with the re-run of leg one. The stages demand a mixture of driving skills and are very punishing to the car. Like other drivers we have had our fair share of bad luck, losing so much time due to suspension failure yesterday, the most we could do today was drive as carefully as possible and maintain our strong third position. To finish third in Argentina is a very positive result and we now look forward to our next round which will be the Safari Rally in Kenya". Prior to the Safria Rally Singh and the PERT team will compete in Round 2 of the APRC Rally of New Caledonia 31 May - 2 June.

Rally of Canberra: Day 3 (Final)
Ordynski Wins Rally of Attrition

05MAY02

Overnight leader Ed Ordynski (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 - pictured left) was confirmed as the winner of the 2002 Rally of Canberra after an action-packed final leg that saw only 19 of the day’s 33 starters reach the finish, and only 15 cars complete the whole event.

Top-placed Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contender Possum Bourne was the most significant casualty, his Subaru Impreza being forced out after a jammed gearbox three stages from the end led to engine problems.

“The gearbox stuck in second, and then maybe I over-revved the car trying to nurse it to the end,” the New Zealander explained. “That caused the turbo to go, and by the time we had stopped to check the oil and cruised on to the final regroup we were over time by 15 seconds.”

Australian Mitsubishi drivers Spencer Lowndes and Chris Atkinson, who had been placed third and fifth overnight, both crashed into retirement. And, with New Zealander Geof Argyle’s Lancer Evo 6 slowed by overheating, Australian Scott Pedder was able to sneak his Evo 6 ahead for a fine second-placing

Behind Argyle, who has made a last-minute decision not to enter this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Australian Mark Lintott claimed fourth place.

A surprised and delighted Nico Caldarola (pictured left) climbed from eighth to fifth, claiming first place and the Group N win amongst the APRC field in his Top Run Lancer Evo 7.

Two places behind, New Zealander Brian Green (Lancer Evo 6) was the only other Asia-Pacific series driver to complete the who event. However fellow Kiwi Reece Jones and Kenyan Alistair Cavenagh took advantage of the restart provision to score bonus APRC points on the final day.

Their gain came at the expense of several other APRC drivers who were less fortunate.

Saladin Mazlin (Malaysia, Hyundai Accent WRC) and John Lloyd (England, Impreza) were both forced out after crashing, in Lloyd’s case into a kangaroo that ventured onto the road. Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima (pictured right) also hit a kangaroo, and retired his Suzuki Ignis soon afterwards with a broken driveshaft.

Naren Kumar (India, Lancer Evo 7) and Haruo Takakuwa (Japan, Impreza) also lost the chance to score APRC points after retiring. Kumar’s exit came after he hit a rock and broke a driveshaft. Takakuwa damaged his car after hitting a bank. Andrew Hawkeswood (New Zealand, Lancer Evo 6) has rejoined for third leg in the chase for bonus points, but tore a wheel off his car.

Caldarola’s APRC win and bonus points score on the first and third legs gives him a provisional 13 points in series. Green is second with six points, ahead of Bourne (5), Jones (4), Saladin Mazlan (3), Hawkewood (2), and Cavenagh (1). Caldarola also leads the Group N division of the series from Bourne, Jones, Cavenagh and Kumar.

The next APRC round is the Rally of New Caledonia, from 31 May to 2 June.

Rally of Canberra: Day 2
Ordynski Tightens Hold

04MAY02

Overnight leader Ed Ordynski tightened his stranglehold on this year’s Rally of Canberra in an action-packed second leg that severely dented the hopes of his leading Subaru-mounted rivals.

Ordynski, driving a Group N Lancer Evo VII, ended the leg with a 1m32sec lead over top placed Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) contender Possum Bourne. Spencer Lowndes, Ordynski’s Ralliart Australia team mate, was third, a further 20secs behind.

Early in the leg Bourne powered into the lead. Two stages from home, though, his Group N Subaru Impreza STi suffered a broken driveshaft. Forced to limp through the day’s final two stages, Bourne saw his narrow 10 sec lead transformed into a deficit that he admits is too great to close over the rally’s final leg.

Bourne’s problem came hard on the heels of a gearbox failure that claimed his team mate Dean Herridge, who had been handily placed in sixth. Worse followed for Subaru when second-placed Cody Crocker rolled heavily after failing to follow a pace note call from his co-driver. Although mechanically OK, the car sustained extremely heavy panel damage, and was withdrawn from the event at the end of the leg.

Battling a niggling engine problem all day, New Zealander Geof Argyle (Lancer - pictured right) managed to hold onto fourth place in the face of a sensational challenge from impressive 22-year old Australian Chris Atkinson (Lancer). Two more Australian’s – brothers Scott and Mark Pedder – ended leg two in sixth and seventh places.

Nico Caldarola improved to eighth place as his new Top Run Team Lancer Evo 7 was fine-tuned over the course of the day, and the Italian was happy to end the leg as the third-placed APRC driver.

Malaysian driver Saladin Mazlan (pictured left) has an even bigger smile on his face. He recorded his first ever special stage win on an International event today on this, his first drive of the Hyundai Accent WRC. On the comeback trail after a crash on the rally’s opening stage, the 26 year old gained confidence with every kilometre as he climbed from 27th to 14th overall and fourth in the APRC standings.

John Lloyd and Brian Green ended the leg in 15th and 16th in their Lancers, with Green two places clear of Japanese driver Nobuhiro Tajima, who lead the rally’s Super 1600cc category in his Suzuki Ignis. Amongst the other APRC contenders, Harau Takakuwa (Japan, Impreza STi) was 21st, one place ahead of India’s Naren Kumar (Lancer Evo 7).

APRC casualties included Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 drivers Andrew Hawkeswood (New Zealand) and Alistair Cavenagh (Kenya). Hawkeswood rolled from ninth into temporary retirement after hitting a culvert on the morning’s third stage, while Cavenagh was out with worsening gearbox problems on the day’s second stage.

Both drivers will rejoin the event for the third and final leg in a bid to score APRC bonus points.

Adding those bonus points to their tally for leg two was the aim of defending APRC champion Karamjit Singh (Malaysia, Proton - pictured right) and Reece Jones (New Zealand, Lancer Evo 6), both of who had been sidelined by gearbox problems on the opening leg.

Jones, with a string of top ten times during the day, was successful in his bid. Karamjit Singh, however, slid off the road on the day’s final stage and retired.

Tomorrow’s final leg of the Canberra event features seven stages totalling some 105km.


Rally of Canberra: Day 1
Ordynski Leads Tight Canberra Battle

03MAY02

Just six seconds separated the top three drivers after Friday’s opening leg of the Subaru Rally of Canberra, round one of this year’s 2002 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Ed Ordynski (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 - pictured right) will start Saturday’s second leg with a 5.7sec lead over fellow Australian Cody Crocker in a Subaru Impreza STi. Crocker’s team mate, former Asia-Pacific and reigning Australian champion Possum Bourne of New Zealand ended leg one in third place, just 0.2secs further behind.

Bourne took an early lead on the rally, but lost the lead to Ordynski with a poor tyre choice, and then dropped behind Crocker after hitting a tree. “I feel a little fortunate to be leading, because we have driven hard and taken some big risks,” said Ordynski. “It has paid off, and we are in the ideal position for tomorrow’s stages.”

The leading trio are all driving Group N cars, are are fourth and fifth places Australians Spencer Lowndes (Mitsubishi) and Dean Herridge (Subaru).

Bourne is the only one of the top five registered for this year’s Asia-Pacific series. Fellow New Zealanders Geof Argyle and Andrew Hawkeswood – both in Group A Lancers - were the second and third placed Asia-Pacific drivers at the end of the leg, at sixth and ninth overall respectively.

Of the other major Asia-Pacific contenders, Nico Caldorola (Italy - pictured right) was 11th after a day spent sorting out minor bugs in his new Top Run Team Lancer Evo 7. John Lloyd (England, Impreza) lay 17th, and Brian Green (New Zealand, Lancer) 18th.

Monster Tajima (Japan, Suzuki Ignis) was 23rd, and Naren Kumar (India, Lancer Evo 7) 24th.

Making his debut in a Hyundai Accent WRC, Malaysian rising star Saladin Mazlan climbed back to 27th after losing time in an early crash, setting third-fastest time on the leg’s final stage.

Kenyan Alistair Cavenagh was also playing catch up after having no brakes for the first three stages, and had reached 28th by the overnight halt.

Defending Asia-Pacific Champion Karamjit Singh (Proton) was forced out with gearbox problems, as was leading New Zealander Reece Jones (Lancer). Both will rejoin the rally for leg two after completing gearbox changes overnight.




2002 Canberra Rally - Preview
22APR02

The first round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally of Canberra 3-5 May, features an excellent entry of international drivers including the return of last years double champion Karamjit Singh from Malaysia.

Singh and the PERT team have just won the Group N class at the WRC Rally of Cyprus. Singh had a great weekend in Cyprus - not only did he win Group N outright for Proton but in the same weekend he became a Dad - his wife giving birth to a baby girl. Singh said after his win “I feel absolutely on top of the world, that is the only way to describe it. We have driven well within our limits today and it’s certainly paid off. After two days of pushing we did what we had to do today and brought the car home. To come to our very first Cyprus Rally and win Gp N by 5 minutes 41.5 seconds is a fantastic result for us and the PERT team. After a fantastic weekend I’m really looking forward to going home and seeing my wife and our new baby girl.”

Malaysia will be represented in this years APRC by another major entry, that of Saladin Mazlan (pictured on left) who will campaign a WRC Hyundai Accent run jointly by the official factory team MSD and Saladin Rallying. Saladin was a regular driver in the APRC Rally of Malaysia, drove in the 1999 Rally of China and last year entered the Junior WRC in a Ford Puma. Saladin will be guided by UK's Jerry Freeman.

Italian driver Nico Caldarola (Mitsubishi) would like to continue on the winning note he finished on in 2001 - he won the last two events in China and Thailand - and will be run by Top Run Team. Caldarola plans to contest the entire 2002 APRC series, reuniting with co-driver Giovanni Agnese who last co-drove for Caldarola during their successful 1995 Italian Rally Championship campaign. Agnese will celebrate his 35th birthday in Canberra and Caldarola has prepared a birthday present for him - a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, "My team Top Run, succeeded in getting ready the new version of the Mitsubishi. We’ve just shipped the fabulous Evolution 7 by aeroplane. I am really happy and excited about having a new car for Canberra. I am looking forward to competing at a very high level although I still do not know who the other competitors are but I hope they will be many because in Italy we say: ‘many enemies, much honour’.”

The United Kingdom is represented by John Lloyd and is this year joined by Kenyan based Alistair Cavenagh and New Zealander Brian Green - all driving Neil Allport prepared Mitsubishi's.

Six times Australian Rally Champion, New Zealand Possum Bourne (pictured on right) is hopeful of making a return to the full championship and to take back the APRC crown he held in 2000.

Japanese teams are headed by Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima driving a JWRC Suzuki Ignis in the Super 1600 class. He will be joined by countryman Atsushi Masumura (Mitsubishi), Haruo Takakuwa (Subaru) and Daisuke Yamada (Subaru).

For the first time the Indian sub-continent will be represented, Chennai-based MRF Tyres Rally Team with VR Narem Kumar and Arjun Balu driving 2002 model Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIIs.

New Zealand's Geoff Argyle (Mitsubishi) heads an impressive list of New Zealand registered competitors. The former New Zealand Champion will contest the event in a competitive Group A spec Lancer with a new sponsor - 'TOTAL'. Reece Jones has switched his efforts from WRC to APRC and will drive a Falken Tyres sponsored Mitsubishi.

Local Australian drivers to watch include the current Australian Rally Championship leader Ed Ordynski in a Ralliart Mitsubishi, Bourne's Subaru team-mates Cody Crocker and Dean Herridge and privateer Simon Evans.




Welcome to a new year of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. The 2002 season promises some exciting new entries and a new event to the series - Rally of Hokkaido, Japan.

ENTRIES FOR 2002
Although we're still waiting for final news from last years champion Karamjit Singh and the EON Motorsport team they have said 'we really want to defend our APRC title and are waiting to see if we can get any support from the various rally organisers'. Singh has entered six rounds of the WRC this year including Cyprus, Argentina, Safari, Finland, New Zealand and Australia.

Italian Nico Caldarola will return this year on a high after winning the last two events of 2001. Nico said in a recent e-mail "my participation in the 2002 APRC shall be for the whole Championship, starting from Canberra with the old car (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6). I have a new co-driver who is Giovanni Agnese and the team will be Top Run as last year."

British pair John Lloyd and Pauline Gullick who finished 3rd overall in 2001 return to compete in four events - Canberra, Rotorua, China and Thailand. Lloyd is joined in the by team by Brian Green from New Zealand and Alistair Cavenagh from Kenya - both drivers are expected to compete all events except Hokkaido. All three competitors will drive Mitsubishi Lancers run by Neil Allport.

Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima makes a welcome return in his Suzuki Ignis. With Suzuki running the cars in the Junior World Rally Championship expect Monster to have a quick and reliable car that may well frighten some of the 4WD competitors. Tajima is planning to run in all events. Still to be confirmed is Malaysian driver Gunaseelan Rajoo planning to enter a Proton Satria for four events including Canberra, Rotorua, Hokkaido and Thailand.

Kiwi driver Reece Jones has confirmed he will make a serious bid for the championship. Jones is an vastly experienced competitor, a former New Zealand Rally Champion and for the past 2 years has competed on the World Rally Championship. Jones will drive a Falken backed Mitsubishi Lancer with co-driver Jeff Judd.

Possum Bourne is expected to place an entry for the APRC with confirmed drives in Canberra and Rotorua and a likely start in Hokkaido. Also rumoured to be making a serious bid in 2002 is last year's New Caledonia winner Jean-Louis Leyraud. We've also heard from several other drivers still waiting to confirm there plans including Australian's Steve Handbury and Denis Stevens, a former New Zealand champion Geoff Argyle, a Brazilian driver and a possible entry from Mitsubishi works driver and 1999 APRC champion Katsuhiko Taguchi.

DATE CHANGE
Although still to be ratified by the FIA there is a date change for Rally of Hokkaido, Japan. The new date is 6-8 September.

TELEVISION
We are pleased to have confirmation from the APRCWG that Power Pictures will again be the official TV producer for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. The broadcast of the series will be similar format to last year - a half-hour programme from each event broadcast on ESPN STAR Sports, FoxSports and other stations through Asia, Africa and Europe. A major change to our production will be that each events half-hour programme is to be available for broadcasters within 12 days and already confirmed to take the series is New Zealand's TVNZ's Shell Helix Motorsport series. We are hoping to confirm further broadcasts of the APRC in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.

The APRC will form part of the lineup for a new 24-episode On The Limit motorsport series on ESPN STAR Sports starting in August.

 

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