2003 Archive



Day 3 - MRF INDIA RALLY
Kremer Takes Double Title

08DEC03

Kremer and Singh
Kremer and Singh
German driver Armin Kremer has clinched both the overall and Production Class honours in the 2004 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, by finishing 2nd overall in the MRF India Rally, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7,.

Coming into the final round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, there were four drivers with a chance of taking the championship. Geoff Argyle from New Zealand headed the points race on 45 points, Kremer two points further back on 43, Japan's Fumio Nutahara with 37 points and last year's APRC champion Malaysian Karamjit Singh on 34. With a maximum of 19 points on offer for a perfect run in India, any of the above drivers could take the overall title.

Karamjit Singh
Karamjit Singh
As it turned out it was an event full of drama, the result not finalized until the very last stage - and it was close - 1 point separating Kremer from event winner Singh. Adding to the tension were the rough roads, that took there toll with nearly half of the field not finishing.

At the end of the first day Kremer lead the event from Singh, after Singh had lost a minute and a half with a puncture. Italian Nico Caldarola was third in a Top Run Mitsubishi Lancer 7 and forth was Kremer's MRF team-mate David Doppelrieter.

Geof Argyle had a wretched day, first shock absorber problems, overheating and punctures that left him 6th at the end of the day. At least he was still in with a chance though, as the other contender for the championship Fumio Nutahara crashed off the road after suspension problems. Joining him in retirement was his team-mate Katsu Taguchi out with gearbox failure.

Goef Argyle
Nico Caldarola
On the second leg Kremer eased off the pace, letting Singh into the lead, but content in the knowledge that he only needed to shadow Singh to take the championship win. It was not easy though as Kremer commented "If I just need to finish in 2nd position it was easy, but I also needed to finish 2nd in the bonus points for each day - it meant I couldn't back-off. With the rough conditions it was difficult to know the right pace". However Kremer judged it to perfection and after a short series of stages on the last day, the German headed back to the historical city of Pune with the championship victory - by one point.

Prior to the victory celebrations Kremer said, "I'm very pleased because we came to the championship with the idea of taking the Group N title for this year - but to win overall is fantastic. This is a wonderful championship with so many countries, conditions and cultures. For European drivers its such good experience to have so many events with gravel and they are all so different - now we think about next year".




Day 2 - MRF INDIA RALLY
Singh back in the lead - Kremer on track for title

07DEC03

Malaysian Karamjit Singh surged back into the lead of the MRF India Rally on Leg 2 with a 90 second gap to second place Armin Kremer from Germany. Singh was not happy with the rough conditions though, 'its so rough that its no fun anymore'. That didn't stop him from blizzing the field in his Proton Pert.

Goef Argyle
Armin Kremer
Armin Kremer lost his lead on the 2nd stage of the day, but stills stays in contention for the overall APRC title, having already wrapped up the Production class for Mitsubishi. Kremer just needs to maintain his 2nd position and score bonus points on the last day to take the title. It will be anxious last leg for his MRF team as the conditions are so rough and unpredictable. Interestingly Kremer has had very shock absorber problems (although they have been changed for safety) and is the only competitor using the Reiger damper.

Italys' Nico Caldarola holds a comfortable 3rd position on track to have his best finish of 2003. Behind this trio comes Kremers MRF team-mate Austrain David Doppelreiter have a good run, then comes New Zealander Geof Argyle languishing in 5th. It really has all gone wrong for Argyle, coming into the event leading the championship and on track to take the APRC title. Like many drivers he has suffered with suspension problems and is down to his last set of shocks, "I get about 20km out them before they start overheating and go soft, we just back-off to a touring pace and they come right".

Goef Argyle
David Doppelreiter
At least Argyle is still running as his team-mate Andrew Hawkeswood retired on stage 7 after a puncture, he broke a lower suspension arm and lost the right front wheel off his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5. Unfortunately his team had used up all the suspension parts they had so Hawkeswood had no other option but to retire from the event.

Behind Argyle and close enough to threaten his place is young Chris Atkinson in the Suzuki Ignis Super 1600. "we backed off today and picked our way through the rocks", said Atkinson at the halfway point. Brian Green is 7th and the only remaining APRC competitor still running.

Both yesterday's retirees, Fumio Nutahara and Katsuhiko Taguchi restarted the second leg, and set about redeeming some team prode. Taguchi won the eighth stage but his Mitsubishi succumbed to transmission failure on the ninth while Nutahara had similar problems on the eighth stage and retired.




Day 1 At The Races - MRF INDIA RALLY
06DEC03

Goef Argyle
Geof Argyle
With Nutahara out, Argyle with suspension and then engine problems, Singh suffering a puncture while leading, it was German driver Armin Kremer who took the days honours - a maximum three points from the first leg of the MRF India Rally to overhaul standings leader Geof Argyle. Kiwi Argyle had an horrendous day with punctures, suspension, overheating and then gearbox problems dropping him to 10th, but he recovered in the last stage to finish the day 6th overall.

Malaysian Proton driver Singh had led for much of the day and went into the last stage with a 57 second advantage but dropped two minutes with a puncture on the 14.5 km test. Nico Caldarola from Italy stayed clear of problems and sits in a comfortable third.

Fumio Nutahara won the first stage, then crashed out after suspension problems on the 3rd stage. Chris Atkinson driving the Super 1600 Suzuki Ignis was well placed until two punctures ruined his chances late in the day.

Drivers are describing the roads similar to Cyprus, with boulders as big as footballs!






Photo's from the start of Rally India

Kremer-at-start-of-Rally
Kremer at start of Rally
Ben-and-Chris-Atkinson
Ben and Chris Atkinson

APRC Drivers: Nutahara, Argyle, Singh and Kremer

APRC TV - Nico Caldarola





Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Final Round 5th-7th DEC 2003

Armin Kremer
Armin Kremer
Geoff Argyle
Geoff Argyle
It's a rally championship run over seven countries through the Asia and Pacific region and as it heads into the final round drivers from New Zealand, Germany, Japan and Malaysia have a chance to take the overall winners title.

New Zealander Geof Argyle and Armin Kremer from Germany are the key 2003 protagonists in the battle for season honours heading for December's season finale in India, with just two points between them at the head of the series points table.

Japan's Fumio Nutahara has 37 points after his excellent results at the start of the year and Malaysian driver Karamjit Singh and the 2002 APRC champion is a further nine points back. However, Singh is the only one of the quartet to have scored points on just three rounds so far, a factor which may count
Fumio Nutahara
Fumio Nutahara
in his favour given that the championship rules only allow drivers to count their four best scores.

Karamjit Singh
Karamjit Singh
Once the points are adjusted on that basis, heading for India Singh's effective deficit is six rather than eleven points to Argyle.

APRC points: Argyle 45, Kremer 43, Nutahara 37, Singh 34.

Information on the Rally of India from the following website:
www.indiarally.com






2004 Provisional Rally Dates

The following dates for the 2004 APRC are provisional only and will be confirmed in December:

2004 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
7-9 May AUS Subaru Rally of Canberra
28-30 May F Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie
9-10 July NZ Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua
3-5 September J Rally Japan (Hokkaido)
9-10 October CN China Rally
6-7 November T Thailand Rally
3-5 December IND MRF India Rally




Singh Wins in Thailand
Story by David Thomson
Photos by Ross Hyde - LINEAR

Karamjit-Singh
Karamjit-Singh
Defending champion Karamjit Singh has taken a solid win on the penultimate round of the Asia-Pacific Championship in Thailand, and so remains in contention to retain the series crown for another year.

However Geof Argyle and Armin Kremer are the key 2003 protagonists in the battle for season honours heading for next month's season finale in India, with just two points between them at the head of the series points table.

Singh is a further nine points back, neck-and-neck with Japan's Fumio Nutahara. However, the Malaysian driver is the only one of the quartet to have scored point on just three rounds so far, a factor which may count in his favour given that the championship rules only allow drivers to count their four best scores.

Once the points are adjusted on that basis, heading for India Singh's effective deficit is six rather than eleven points to Argyle.

Geoff Argyle
Geoff Argyle
Showing his best form of the year, it was Argyle who grabbed the early lead in Thailand, ending leg one a mere second in front of Singh. An overheating problem then forced him to slow early on leg two.

While Argyle's Kiwi team mate Andrew Hawkeswood then proceeded to take the fight to Singh - snatching the lead before a blown engine intervened - Argyle found himself fighting every inch of the way to stay ahead of Kremer.

The gap between the pair stood at just two seconds at the conclusion of leg two. Heading into the final stage it was just three seconds, and the balance finally swung in the German's favour when Argyle lost several seconds when he locked up a brake and slid off just a few
kilometres from home.

Armin Kremer
Armin Kremer
The time lost in that incident allowed ex-European title holder Kremer - already in control in Group N - through to second place by just three seconds. However, thanks to the bonus points earned by Argyle on the first and second legs, the result sees the points gap between the pair remain unchanged at just two points.

Finishing fifth in Thailand behind team mate Katsukiho Taguchi (with Mark Stacey as co-driver), Fumio Nutahara has slipped to third in the series, nine points behind Argyle.

Even so, with a maximum of 19 points on offer for a perfect run to victory in India, the Japanese driver remains in contention for the title. So to does Singh, who is a further four points back.

Chris Atkinson
Chris Atkinson
Local Ralliart driver P Tawatchai was the first Thai finisher home in sixth place, a minute clear of 2WD winners Chris and Ben Atkinson.

Noberto Cangani (10th), Haruo Takakuwa (15th) and Brian Green (16th) were the other Asia-Pacific Championship drivers to finish. Green's was a particularly gutsy effort, as the New Zealander's Lancer Evo 6 suffered extensive damage when it was hit from behind by a fellow competitor after an off-road excursion.

The event was also notable for the appearance of four of China's top rally drivers, headed by Hong Kong-based Chan Chi Wah. Lancer Evo 5-mounted Hua Qing Xian was the best of them at the end, finishing 13th.

The Indian finale, included in the series for the first time this year, is scheduled to run from 5-7 December.

RALLY OF THAILAND, 31 October - 2 November

1* Karamjit Singh/Allen Oh Proton Pert A 2h07m57s
2* Armin Kremer/Fred Berssen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo N 2h08m52s
3* Geof Argyle/Steve Smith Mitsubishi Lancer Evo A 2h08m55s
4 Katsuhiko Taguchi/Mark Stacey Mitsubishi Lancer Evo N 2h09m13s
5* Fumio Nutahara/Satoshi Hayashi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo N 2h09m41s
6 P Tawatchai/S Wongsakorn Mitubishi Lancer Evo N 2h13m09s
7* Chris + Benjamin Atkinson Suzuki Ignis S1600 2h14m09s
10* Noberto Cangani/ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo N 2h16m00s
15* Haruo Takakuwa/Paul Flintoft Subaru Impreza N 2h29m23s
16* Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo A 2hm32m46s

33 starters. 21 finishers. 9 APRC contenders (*) finished.

Rally leaders Hawkswood stage 1, Argyle 2, Hakweswood 3, Argyle 4, Singh 5, Hawkeswood 6-7, Singh 8-17.

APRC points: Argyle 45, Kremer 43, Nutahara 37, Singh 34.




Kiwi leading Asia Pacific Rally Championship
17SEP03

Geof Argyle
New Zealand driver Geof Argyle now leads the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, by finishing 2nd overall in the Japan round, Rally Hokkaido.

Japan's Toshi Arai won the event outright by more than four minutes, but is not registered for APRC points and therefore Argyle won the APRC section followed by Armin Kremer from Germany.

Hokkaido is not an easy event and Argyle and his co-driver Steve Smith read the difficult conditions well, while their main competition ran into trouble. Malaysia's Karamjit Singh was out on the first stage with gearbox problems and Fumio Nutahara on his home rally, broke his suspension on a jump. Many of Rally Hokkaido's roads have a soft base and particularly in slow corners have huge ruts and the numerous concrete culverts have their sharp edges exposed after only a few cars, causing punctures and breaking wheels. Variable weather conditions added to the mix including fog, rain, bright sunshine and the threat of the typhoon that devastated South Korea.

Armin Kremer
"This weekends result makes up for our turbo failure at Rotorua where I thought we could take the APRC points lead. We couldn't have hoped for a better result on our first ever trip to Japan. My crew have been fantastic and we couldn't have achieved this result without my co-driver Steve doing such a great job", commented Geof, "now we start preparing for Thailand."

Armin Kremer won the Group N class and consolidated his position in the APRC points finishing 3rd overall and 2nd in the APRC, while drive of the event had to come from the Suzuki team. Junior WRC ace Daniel Carlsson finished an incredible 5th overall, but isn't registered for APRC points and Australian Chris Atkinson in a similar car was 10th overall and 3rd overall in the APRC points. Other APRC finishers included Atsushi Masumura 4th and New Zealanders Brian Green and Andrew Hawkeswood 5th and 6th. Hawkeswood was lucky to finish at all after numerous engines problems including a broken piston and blowing a turbo resulting in the organizers cancelling the stage - due to a lack of visibility!!

Chris Atkinson
Final placings: Overall classification
1. Toshi Arai (Subaru, N4) 2h59m55.1s
2. Geof Argyle (Mitsubishi, A8) 3h04m02.3s
3. Armin Kremer (Mitsubishi, N4) 3h05m51.6s
4. Takuma Kamada (Subaru, N4) 3h06m08.7s
5. Daniel Carlsson (Suzuki, A6) 3h07m30.0s
10. Chris Atkinson (Suzuki, A6) 3h13m41.2s

APRC driver standings: After round 3
1. GEOF ARGYLE NZ 34
2. FUMIO NUTAHARA J 32
3. ARMIN KREMER D 31
4. KARAMJIT SINGH MAL 16
5. ANDREW HAWKSWOOD NZ 15
6. CHRIS ATKINSON AUS 11
7. BRIAN GREEN NZ 10

Due to Rally of China's cancellation there is break of 7 weeks until Rally of Thailand 28th October to 2nd of November. The 5th and final round is in India at the beginning of December.

Report by Brian Young, Power Pictures




CHINA RALLY CANCELLED
26AUG03

The Rally of China organisers have announced that due to "force majure because of government" the event will not take place in 2003.




Sebastian Loeb to Drive RALLY HOKKAIDO
23AUG03

Sebastian Loeb
Citroen Sport confirmed this week that they will be sending Sebastian Loeb and co-driver, Daniel Elena to Japan immediately after Rally Australia. There the pair will participate in the two days of reconnaissance over many of the stages earmarked for use in Japan's first ever World Rally Championship round, Rally Japan.

The presence of a leading WRC driver at their rally is seen as an excellent opportunity for RALLY HOKKAIDO organisers to spread the message that they are ready for WRC status. The international rally media present should certainly be very anxious to hear Seb's comments on the course. Likewise, the legion of Japanese rally fans expected to attend will be equally anxious to catch a photo of one of their idols.

Citroen Sport will also be despatching engineering and logistical staff to RALLY HOKKAIDO to gather data on the course and infrastructure that will best allow the team to plan their entry in 2004, should the event be included in next year's World Rally Championship.

Citroen will not be the only WRC manufacturer with representation there, however. All of the teams except Skoda have informed the Organisers they will send personnel on fact finding missions to Hokkaido for the rally.

Toshi Arai
While Loeb and Elena travel the course at a more sedate pace during reconnaissance, two WRC regulars will be going all out in front of their respective main sponsors during the actual rally. Toshi Arai will be aiming for a win in what will be his first gravel event in Japan since he joined the World Rally circus. For most of his ardent supporters it will similarly be the first time to glimpse their hero in action.

Daniel Carlsson will not be able to miss his huge supporter base. An army of yellow jacketed Suzuki dealers and staff, rumoured to include the managing director himself, is expected to almost overrun the various spectator areas.

Round 3 of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, RALLY HOKKAIDO will be held in the central eastern region of Japan's most northerly island from 12 to 14 September.






Unexpected win for Brian, Fleur & SR Motorsport in "MR3"
Shah Alam, Malaysia - Monday August 11th., 2003

New Zealand crew Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen left the opposition feeling stunned when they pulled off a sensational win in the international "Malaysian Rally 2003."

Driving an SR Motorsport Subaru Impreza STi, the duo were handed the win on the penultimate stage, when the gearbox of Karamjit Singh's and Allen Oh's Proton PERT lost all drive. Up to that point, Brian had been driving rapidly but carefully in slippery conditions, comfortably holding second place. Despite their pre-event prediction of taking all three podium places, the PERT team were left with just one, as the 1.6 liter Wira of Adrian Lam and Sanjeev Menon was the only PERT car to finish.

Veteran rally driver Brian Green and his young co-driver Fleur Pedersen were naturally ecstatic at taking their first international rally win, and the news spread rapidly back to New Zealand, where the pair are popular and regular competitors.

The car meanwhile ran like clockwork throughout the three-day event. The SRMS Impreza, run with support from Shell Malaysia, Silverstone High Performance Tires, Performance Additives, and Mofaz, suffered only one failure during the gruelling event. Leaving Parc Fermé on day two, the crew noticed the intercom was not functioning, and this required the replacement of cheap 9 volt battery! Aside from this, the reliability was so good the service crew had time to clean and polish the car at the end of each day. Clearly, their pre-event preparation work had been undertaken with consummate professionalism.

Before returning to New Zealand, Brian complimented the whole team by saying "I really can't find fault with anything, or suggest any improvements. I'm very much hoping Fleur and I will be able to return for Round 6 of the Perodua AAM Malaysian Rally Championship in September, and I intend to bring other Kiwis here to experience Malaysian rallying" he continued.

Conditions throughout the three-day event were very changeable. Following three weeks of persistent heavy rain, the stages were extremely muddy and slippery. But during the event, the weather was mostly hot which allowed the stage surfaces to dry. Making the right choice of tires was especially difficult, and Brian was very satisfied with the efforts of the Silverstone technicians, who had to make many adjustments to compounds and tread patterns during the event.

Team Manager Paul Russell was delighted with the result, and noted "This is something I hadn't even dreamed of achieving on only our second rally. Getting the car to the finish, and giving the crew an enjoyable weekend were really our only objectives" he said. "When it looked like they could take a podium place I was more than satisfied, but actually winning the rally is something that hasn't really sunk in."

"I feel really sorry for Karamjit and Allen, who came so close to the win, but that's rallying. The last hour of the event was a nail- biting time for us, as we waited for the car to return to the final time control" he continued. "But Brian, Fleur and the whole team did a fantastic job, and here we are with the win."

He also noted … "Our only regret is that our other car was unable to start the rally. Driver Natalie Barratt was unable to compete due to personal reasons, and returned to the UK. We fully respect her decision, and sincerely hope she will be able to return in the not too distant future to experience the quality of Malaysian rallying" he concluded.

The Malaysian Rally 2003, held in the southern state of Johor, was observed by the FIA for possible inclusion in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. If the Perlis Motorsport Club is successful in its bid, Brian and Fleur will have gained valuable experience for future rallies here. And to ensure they return soon, the team is working hard to re-prepare cars for the sixth round of this year's Championship, to be held in the plantations around Sepang, on September 27th and 28th.

Web site : sr-motorsport.com




West Gets Factory Subaru Drive
22JUL03

Chris West's victory in the Group N standard production class of the New Zealand Rally Championship has secured him a drive in the Australian round of the World Rally Championship with Subaru Rally Team Japan.

"It just happened out of the blue," said the Timaru based West. "I didn't know they were keeping an eye on my efforts until I got an email after the Rally of Rotorua."

West won the national title for a third time with a round to spare at the Rally of Rotorua nine days ago in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI. "It's the kind of opportunity you can't turn down," said West, who will be competing outside New Zealand for the first time.

Chris West
He and co-driver Gary Cowan will drive the latest model Group N 2003 Impreza WRX STI in the Perth based event in early September. "It's a great way to finish off the year," said West, who will not compete in the final round of the national series at Hawkes Bay, but focus his efforts on Perth. "I'm looking forward to it."

Although he has not competed in Perth before, West did do gravel notes for Possum Bourne on the 2000 Rally of Australia. "Some of the stages are still the same, so I've got a little bit of experience."

Cowan co-drove for West when he won the national Group N Championship in 2000 and has also gained experience internationally co-driving for Reece Jones and Rhys Millen. "Gary's been a long time friend and his experience will be invaluable in writing the pace notes and checking them in the two passes we're allowed over the stages," said West. "And driving the latest Subaru will be good experience for next year as we hope to have a 2003 model Impreza for next season."

West said he was honoured to be asked to drive for the Japanese team. "They haven't put any pressure on me to produce a spectacular result in my first event outside New Zealand," said West. "The idea is to finish and gain experience."

He will get a chance to test the car the week before the three day event. West dominated the local Group N scene this season, taking maximum points on the first three rounds of the championship. His efforts at Rotorua were halted on the first day when a stone holed the radiator, but after his team had repaired the damage, West gained enough bonus points on the second and third legs of the event to wrap up the title.

"We were looking for another good result," said West. "But after what happened in the ford in the Motu we just had to set a new target."

While he won't be competing in Hawkes Bay next month, West still plans to head to Hastings to support Bruce Herbert and Rob Ryan in their bid to win a fourth National Championship in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI.




Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua - Day 3
Herbert claims fifth rally victory in Rotorua
13 July 2003

Overall Winner Bruce Herbert
Palmerston North's Bruce Herbert claimed a record fifth victory in a row at the Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua today.

Herbert has taken a vice-like grip on his defence of the Parker Enzed national rally championship, with one round remaining in Hawkes Bay next month.

The 44-year-old Subaru driver finished 1min 50sec clear of Japan's Fumio Nutahara and world production car champion Karamjit Singh (Malaysia). The overseas pair tied for second with identical times after three days of rallying, with Nutahara taking out the major honours on countback in the FIA Asia Pacific championship, held in conjunction with the Rotorua event.

Andrew Hawkeswood
Auckland's Andrew Hawkeswood celebrated his 35th birthday by producing fastest time on three of today's five special stages, to climb from 1min 25sec behind third placed Singh overnight to just 21 seconds in fourth overall - second in the national championship and third in the Asia Pacific round.

Masterton's Richard Mason (Mitsubishi) soldiered on with over-heating problems to finish fifth ahead of Germany's Armin Kremer, the opening round winner of the Asia Pacific championship. Hawera's Glenn Smith had his best finish of the year for sixth.

Herbert only needs to finish at Hawkes Bay to become the first person to win four national titles in a row in what will be his final New Zealand Rally Championship. "It's unbelievable to win the Rotorua Rally for the fifth time in a row. It's a great victory and I think it will be a long time before anyone matches that record" Herbert said.

German driver Nikolous Schelle
wins Super 1600
No 9 Fumio Nutahara
"I am very, very happy with the result in this rally a there are many fast local drivers. It is unbelieveable to tie with Karamjit. Overall I am very happy."

No 1 Karamjit Singh
"It is a good result in terms of the problems we have had with the car. It was a great battle with Fumio today and we get some good points to start our championship title defence."

No 8 Andrew Hawkeswood
"We had no option today but to charge. We tried out best but it was not quite enough. The day went well apart from that. We just needed two more stages."

No 3 Armin Kremer
"It's been a great experience competing in this rally. We have learned a lot about this car and the set-up and your tricky road conditions. I look forward to coming back and competing again."




Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Round 2
Hella Battery Town - Rally of Rotorua
13 July 2003
Nutahara-and-Hayashi


Japan's Fumio Nurahara won Round 2 of the 2003 Asia Pacific Rally Championship in his Mitsubishi Lancer. Even though Nutahara and Karamjit Singh from Malaysia finished with exactly the same time, The Advan Team drivers wins because according to the rules... "who-ever leads on the first day is the winner should the final results be tied".

1. B Herbert (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 2 hrs 58 mins 32.6 secs;
2. F Nutahara (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.22.9;
3. K Singh (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.22.9;
4. A Hawkeswood (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.44.4;
5. R Mason (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.02.30.6;
6. A Kremer (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.02.57.8.





Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua - Day 2
Herbert has fifth rally victory in his sights
12 July 2003

Bruce Herbert
Palmerston North rally driver Bruce Herbert established a commanding lead today as he chases a record five wins in a row in the Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua.

Herbert (Subaru Impreza) finished the second day with a telling 1min 23sec advantage to his closest chasers and one hand on his fourth Parker Enzed national rally championship.

Japan's Fumio Nutahara and Malaysia's world production car champion Karamjit Singh head the chase, and are set to fight out the FIA Asia Pacific championship honours, held in conjunction with the event.

The much-anticipated battle between Herbert and his fellow Manawatu rival Geof Argyle (Mitsubishi Evo 6) evaporated early when Argyle blew a turbo on special stage six, the second of the day near Manawahe in the eastern Bay of Plenty. While he gamely limped through the stage and back to service in Kawerau to cure the problem, he is now well out of contention.

Fumio Nutahara
Argyle took fastest time in the first special stage of the day to extend his lead to 6.5 seconds over Herbert, as he chased critical points in both the national championship and Asia Pacific standings.

"We stopped to block off the oil line to the turbo so we could carry on. But that's our rally buggered," Argyle said. "The car seemed okay after the service although the turbo boost was fluctuating. We drove through the day and we will go for bonus points tomorrow."

Argyle went into the event in second place behind Herbert in the national championship and second to German Armin Kremer in the Asia Pacific series. His departure left Herbert with a huge advantage.

"We were disappointed to see Geof stopped. We were looking forward to a good battle today and tomorrow. We were able to extend out the lead so I am trying to keep it nice and clean. There's no real pressure on us at this stage."

Karamjit Singh
Masterton's Richard Mason, who had turbo problems as well yesterday, drove consistently fast today to move up to fourth overall, and second in the Parker Enzed national championship, 2min 29sec behind Herbert. "I'm really enjoying myself. Everything is fine with the car and it will be an interesting battle with Andrew (Hawkeswood)."

Hawkeswood (Auckland, Mitsubishi), who drove conservatively yesterday, pushed hard today to record fastest time and stage records on two special stages. This was mixed with a mistake on stage eight, when he hit a bank and was forced to limp out and back to service with two flat tyres. This dropped him back to fifth, 28 seconds behind Mason.

Italy's Nico Caldarola (Mitsubishi) climbed to sixth ahead of Hawera's Glenn Smith, who moved up the ladder enjoying today's faster forestry stages.

Kremer was eighth ahead of Auckland's Mark Tapper (Mitsubishi) who leads the Group N class, despite losing five minutes due to a puncture on the penultimate stage of the day.

Results Day 2:

1. Bruce Herbert (Palmerston North, Subaru) 2hr 22min 13.9sec
2. Fumio Nutahara (Japan, Mitsubishi) + 1min 23.1sec
3. Karamjit Singh (Malaysia, Mitsubishi) + 1min 32.1sec
4. Richard Mason (Masterton, Mitsubishi) + 2min 29,8sec
5. Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland, Mitsubishi) + 2min 58.5sec
6. Domenico Caldarola (Italy, Mitsubishi) + 3min 11.3sec
7. Glenn Smith (Hawera, Mitsubishi) + 3min 58.3sec
8. Armin Kremer (Germany, Mitsubishi) + 4min 02.7sec
9. Lewis Scott (Wellington, Mitsubishi) + 6min 32.0sec
10. Brian Stokes (Kaiapoi, Ford Escort RS) + 6min 48.0sec




Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua - Day 1
Manawatu rivals dominate opening day
11 July 2003

Manawatu arch-rivals Geof Argyle and Bruce Herbert dominated the opening day of the Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua today.

Geof Argyle
The 1998 and 1999 national champion Argyle holds a one-second advantage over four-time Rotorua winner Herbert in the fourth round of the Parker Enzed National Championship, which also doubles as the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

With first day bonus points, Argyle now leads the Asia Pacific championship by one point from first round winner Armin Kremer (Germany), while he has reduced his deficit to Herbert in the national series to just two points.

There is a 20-second buffer back to third placed Fumio Nutahara (Japan) and 47 seconds to world production car champion Karamjit Singh (Malaysia).

The battle for the New Zealand championship now appears to be a two-horse race after Auckland's Todd Bawden, winner of both the Otago and Southland rounds of the series, went off the road on special stage 3 in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

It was not a good day for two national championship leaders, with Timaru's Chris West, only having to finish in Rotorua to retain his Group N title, forced out with radiator damage in the signature second stage through the Motu, while two-wheel drive leader Deane Buist (Christchurch) suffered clutch problems while travelling to the opening stage out of Opotiki.

Nutahara (Mitsubishi Evo 7) surprised with fastest time in the opening 19.18km stage in Motu 1 to pip Herbert (Subaru) on the stage the Palmerston North driver has dominated in previous years.

Nico Caldoralo
Nutahara retained his narrow lead after Italy's Domenico Caldarola (Mitsubishi Evo 7) was fastest through the 26.81km Motu 2 ahead of Masterton's Richard Mason with Herbert five seconds back.

The Manawatu pair of Herbert and Argyle made their move in the commanding 32.71 stage in Whakarau. Argyle was quickest but only 1.5sec ahead of Singh with Herbert 5sec back. With Nutahara 23 seconds adrift, Herbert took the overall lead, 10 seconds ahead of Argyle with the international trio of Nutahara, Singh and Caldarola drifting back.

Argyle, who announced that this will be his final year in topline rallying, set a new stage record on the day's last stage, the 24km trek in Rakauroa. He blitzed the previous record by 30 seconds to finish 12 seconds faster than Herbert to grab the overall lead by just 1.8 seconds.

Nutahara retained third 20 seconds back, with Singh fourth at 47 seconds, Caldarola at 1min 12sec and Auckland's Andrew Hawkeswood sixth 1min 30secs from the leader.

Other notables out of action on the opening day included Auckland's Reece Jones, Australian Chris Atkinson and the Dunedin pair of Mike Turfus and Emma Gilmour.

The MOTU needed a slip cleared
before the stage could be run


From the Rally of Rotorua Press Office




Lloyd's New Zealand challenge
Jardine Lloyd Thompson rally driver John Lloyd is heading to New Zealand to tackle the Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua from July 11-13.

It will be the third time Lloyd and co-driver Pauline Gullick have tackled the event, a round of the FIA's prestigious Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and the pair are confident of breaking into the top ten in their Neil Allport-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer.

The rally attracts fierce local competition and Asia-Pacific Rally Championship regulars. As well as a host of local crews, there are 18 international entries.

Lloyd and Gullick are no strangers to New Zealand and its people. They have contested Rally New Zealand twice as part of their World Rally Championship exploits and their car is run by a local team. As a result, Lloyd rates the event as one of the best in the world. "The stages are excellent and the people are friendly," he says. "Over the years I have got to know the organisers, local drivers and Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contenders, so it really is a pleasure to go out there and compete alongside them on what is a tremendously challenging and well-run event."

The rally, which features 16 special stages and about 178 miles of competitive driving, is held in the middle of New Zealand's winter, making conditions particularly treacherous. Rain and early morning frost are common and temperatures range from 9-16 Celsius.

The event also features one of the most famous stages in world rallying: Motu. This long, uphill, twisty stage was made famous when it was included in the World Rally Championship and remains one of the most challenging tests in the sport today. "The roads we will compete on are characteristic of New Zealand, as they are fast and flowing," said Lloyd. But Motu is the one that we all look forward to, because it is a brilliant challenge. It is crucial to get the flow right or it is incredibly difficult to enjoy it."

Lloyd, who is also contesting selected rounds of this year's British rally Championship and the British Historic Championship, believes he is better prepared than ever for the event, having given up drinking alcohol for the past ten weeks.

"I've lost about half a stone so it is going to be interesting to see if it helps me go any faster," he said. "On the fast, flowing roads that we expect to drive on, fitness should be a major benefit. But we'll just have to wait and see how it goes."

Having missed the Scottish rally earlier this month when his car developed a misfire shortly before the event began, Lloyd is short of time behind the wheel. But he hopes a planned test session with car preparation ace and former New Zealand champion driver Neil Allport will ensure he is match fit for the event.

"Usually a quick run with Neil is enough to get the feel back for driving quickly again," said Lloyd. "He has helped my driving improve in leaps and bounds and another session alongside him should put me in the right frame of mind.




European ace looking forward to Rotorua Challenge
German Rally driver Armin Kremer starts next weeks Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua as current leader of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). Making his first visit to New Zealand, the former European Rally Champion heads a two car MRF Tyres Team assault on the APRC.

Kremer is looking forward to his first taste of New Zealand rallying and in particular the challenge of the world famous Motu stages. The Motu earned its reputation in the early nineties when it formed part of the World Championship Rally New Zealand, proving to be the toughest of challenges for the world's best drivers. Kremer is excited at the prospect of competing on roads with such an awesome reputation.

Rotorua will also be Kremer's first event competing against the man whose title he is trying to claim this year. Malaysian driver Karamjit Singh winner of the 2002 APRC title is set to start the defence of his title at Rotorua after missing the opening round in Canberra. Kremer is keen to match his pace against the current champion.

Kremer and co-driver Fred Berssen, will undertake a day of testing for the MRF Team prior to the event this weekend, to test tyres and car set up for the challenging Rotorua stages. Driving a Production Class Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, the German ace is expecting tough competition from the leading New Zealand drivers including Bruce Herbert, Geoff Argyle, and Richard Mason.

Kremer's team mate will be Austrian driver David Doppelreiter, a former Austrian snowboarding champion turned rally driver. The rising star competed in the 2002 Junior World Rally Champion, and will be looking to gain further experience on his first visit to Rotorua. Doppelreiter and co-driver Ola Floene of Norway will also campaign a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7.

The Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua begins with a ceremonial start on the evening of Thursday 10th July at City Focus in the heart of Rotorua with three days of competition concluding back at City Focus on the afternoon of Sunday 13th July.




Possum Bourne
World Class Rally Driver

In Memorium
30 April 2003

Possum Bourne
Possum, who celebrated his 47th birthday on April 13, was New Zealand's top rally driver in the history of the sport.

Brought up in the Te Kauwhata area where his parents were farmers, Possum later shifted to Pukekohe where he has lived since.

His ability behind the wheel made him World Class and for three years - 1993 to 1995 - he drove for the full Subaru works factory team run by the English company Prodrive.

In his 40s, at a time when many drivers are past their best, Possum had matured as a driver to produce the best performances of his career.

Success in the sport did not come easily. He did not compete in his first rally until 1979 when he was already 23 years old. But the talent was immediately obvious when he finished third from a 48th seeding. On a limited budget Possum did not compete in a large number of events in his early years in the sport.

In 1983 he attracted the backing of New Zealand's Subaru distributor and his name has become synonymous with the brand he has remained loyal to ever since.

Possum Bourne wins 2000 Rally of Malaysia
Possum's career developed with Subaru, at a time when the cars were not the most powerful or sophisticated.

From 1986 on he drove for a partial factory team from Japan in a limited number of international events in places as diverse as Kenya, Argentina, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

When Subaru produced the more competitive Legacy RS for the 1990 season and then the Impreza WRX from 1994 onwards, Possum's career flourished, although he was often still only doing a handful of events a year, compared to the dozen or more the top world championship drivers were competing in.

Possum won the Asia Pacific Championship three times in 1993, 1994 and 2000. He was the seven times consecutive Australian champion from 1996 to last year, a record. He won the New Zealand title in 1991.

On eight occasions Possum was the first New Zealand driver on the World Championship Rally of New Zealand, finishing in the top six on several occasions against the world's best. With those performances he could justifiably claim to be a world class driver.

Possum Bourne wins 2000 Rally of China
He won events in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan as well as on both sides of the Tasman.

He has been the dominant figurehead in the sport in New Zealand for the last 15 years, yet many of his best performances occurred internationally.

Since 1992 most of his competition has been in Australia or further afield, yet he retained and enhanced his profile as New Zealand's top driver.

Among his best drives were fourth on the Rally of Australia in 1990 in a heavy, mildly modified Legacy RS.

Victory in Indonesia in 1993 - his first "true" international win, was particularly sweet, as the last success with long time co-driver and mate, the late Rodger Freeth.

A win in the marathon 1994 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally came against the odds and set him up for the successful defence of his Asia Pacific title.

His best performance on the Rally of NZ came in 1987 with third place.

But he valued the fifths gained in 1997 and 1999 much more. Competing against far stronger fields of factory works teams when he was driving a car at least a year old with much fewer resources at his disposal.

Possum had an unquenchable passion for rallying and was always totally positive about the sport. Never one to dwell on any set back, he would analyse what had gone wrong and plan ahead for a new goal.

Possum enjoyed challenges and after a decade of top performances in a succession of highly modified Group A and World Rally Cars, he relished winning the Australian championship in a standard production Impreza STI last year.

Possum Bourne - 2003 Rally of New Zealand
Critics across the Tasman said he could not change to the lower powered class of car successfully. He proved them wrong.

Apart from his ability behind the wheel, Possum's practical engineering experience insured his cars were as competitive as possible, as he started working life as an apprentice mechanic.

Possum's personality was like a breath of fresh air. He could relate to people at all levels and went out of his way to talk to fans and sign autographs. He kept audiences enthralled for hours sharing his experiences in his own down to earth style.

He was also fiercely patriotic. At the Swedish Rally this year, at the start of his campaign in the Production World Rally Championship, his car carried the silver fern on either side of the top of the windscreen even though it was not part of the corporate livery for the team!

And he never gave up. If the car was still capable of motion he always gave himself a chance of completing a stage and the event.

Possum did everything 100 percent. His competitive nature would not allow anything less.

He will be sadly missed.

Contributed by John Coker, Subaru NZ

For a photographic Tribute to Possum - Go Here





Subaru Rally Team Australia commemorates Possum
Wednesday 30 April, 2003

Possum Bourne's Subaru Rally Team Australia team-mates today paid heartfelt tributes to their team leader.

Possum's co-driver Mark Stacey said: "Words can't explain how I feel about losing Possum. An absolutely brilliant driver and a fantastic friend and mentor. "Last weekend the Subaru Rally Team Australia showed incredible strength of character by successfully competing in the face of this tragedy. I am so very proud to work with these wonderful people.

"Yes we have lost our Possum, but we, as part of rallying, must not lose his incredible motivation and enthusiasm.

"Possum's love for the sport was only outweighed by his love for Peggy, Taylor, Jazlin and Spencer, and I know that his amazing spirit lives on in them. "We spent literally hundreds of days doing thousands of k's in a car each year, and on every single one of those days, no matter what time zone or where we were in the world, Poss would talk to each of the kids and the last thing he always said was, "don't forget your daddy loves you."

SRTA driver Cody Crocker said: "It's easy to understand why our team is so successful when you looked at Possum. "He created the team and is the reason why we have had the huge level of success we've experienced, including last weekend in Canberra.

"Ever since we met him at the Rally of Melbourne in 1997, he's been an inspiration. Greg (Foletta) and I always remember him leaning in the window of the car in that casual way of his and asking how we were going. We were amazed that he had the time to bother.

"Possum is undoubtedly the reason why we are the most successful rally team in Australia. "He had such a big heart and the dedication he showed in both mentoring us and being there for us and guiding us was absolutely amazing.

"As a driver, you can't go past the amount of experience he had and his ability to come out on top or get back on top when the going got tough. He had an incredible ability to never give up and it's an invaluable lesson he taught us."

Greg Foletta, Cody's co-driver, said: "Possum just put so much effort into helping us. "When I started in rallying he was a hero. We were just like any average people off the streets and rallying was a bit of a hobby. We thought Possum was untouchable and the fact he even acknowledged us was a huge shock.

"Every time he spoke to me I was in awe, even after I joined the team. He was so big in the sport. "Of course, we came to know Possum the person - albeit a very different person to most of us, with so much drive and ambition.

"The average person probably grows up thinking that someone larger than life like Possum is inaccessible. But one of the great things I found about being involved with him is that he was just like the rest of us. He was accessible and proactive in giving people a chance. He gave time to others and gave advice freely.

"Possum could take really complex problems and break them down very simply into defined, easy to comprehend solutions - little steps to make a significant achievement. That's been his strength and support to us.

"He took a lot of time and effort to teach us, as he did with many people. I learned to really listen to him because if you put it into practice, it reaped rewards. His methods have certainly helped me grow and I have an extraordinary amount of respect for him.

"The two rallies we did with Possum this year were fantastic and New Zealand was one of the first times I felt I could talk to him on the same professional level.

"Cody and I have also been privileged to be virtually adopted into the extended Bourne family and they have helped us in countless ways to do the right thing by the team."

SRTA driver Dean Herridge said: "Possum has had a huge influence on my career and it is a very strange feeling to know that he is no longer with us. "There are so many things that I have been able to learn from Possum over the years. He had such passion for the sport that I love, and a fighting spirit like no one else.

"One particular thing will always stick with me for the rest of my career and that is the Possum attitude to never give up and always keep fighting to the end, something that Possum continued to do in this last stage of his life.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to be a team-mate to one of the true legends of our sport and he will be sadly missed. "All my love and thoughts are with Peggy, Spencer, Taylor, Jazlin and all of Possum's family."

Dean's co-driver, Glenn Macneall, said: "There is so much to say about a man who really was larger than life. It is hard to believe that someone who was so strong has been taken from us all. He was one of those amazing people that never seemed to give up and always came out on top, when things got tough Possum seemed to just dig deeper and come out fighting.

"His sheer enthusiasm was infectious. I think that is what made him and his whole team so successful. His love for what he did was always apparent and second place was never an option.

"To Peggy and his family: take strength at this difficult time from the man that Possum was. He brought happiness to so many people around the world who watched him compete and talk about the sport he loved.

"Possum was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to us all. His smile and his love for what he did will remain in the hearts of everyone and he will be remembered always. He was a true champion, the people's champion. What more is there to say, the man was a true legend. Possum you were absolutely 'Spot ON'."

Issued by Subaru Australia Corporate Affairs Manager, David Rowley. Tel. 0418 237 252




Rally of Canberra
Media Release: Sunday 27 April 2003

Smiles in the Subaru camp as Crocker wins his first Rally of Canberra

While it's been a tough week in the Subaru camp, with star driver Possum Bourne still in a serious condition in a New Zealand hospital, Cody Crocker and Greg Foletta this afternoon have good reason to celebrate.

Thirty-one-year-old Crocker, who set up a fantastic lead early on Saturday and won eight of the 22 stages, finished with a time of 2:50:52.0.

Fellow Australian Scott Pedder and co-driver Paul Humm rounded off a fantastic weekend with a time of 2:51:26.2. The pair ran into trouble late in the final stages, with a leaking engine seal causing some problems but they managed to hold it together until the end. Subaru's second vehicle, driven by Dean Herridge and Glenn MacNeall, came in a close third with a time of 2:52:17.0. It's the first time more than one Subaru Rally Team vehicle has finished in Canberra.

Conditions for this year's rally have been difficult to say the least - in addition to the cloud hanging over the rally fraternity caused by Possum Bourne's accident, weather conditions during the weekend have been variable.

The event started in dusty conditions on Friday that soon turned wet, while Saturday was again dry and dusty and by the end of Sunday the conditions were no less than soggy.

Nutahara While the weekend's been triumphant for Subaru and Australia, the hottest competition has been for the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship points.

Just 11 of the event's 33 starters were APRC registered, with New Zealand's Geoff Argyle, Germany's Armin Kremer and Japan's Fumio Nutahara going into the final stage just seconds apart.

The margin became even closer during the final stage, with Kremer taking the honours by just 0.7 seconds. Argyle was forced to limp home on a flat tyre, dashing his chances for the win.

Atkinson Nutahara finished third behind Argyle with 2:54:05.5. This was the closest the APRC standings have ever been in Canberra.

Australia's only APRC entry, brothers Chris and Ben Atkinson in the Monster Sport Australia Pty Ltd Suzuki Ignis, came in 10th overall and fourth in the APRC standings.

The Canberra track is touted as one of the most challenging on the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship circuit and true to form claimed 11 vehicles during the course of the weekend. From a starting field of 33 just 22 cars completed the event, including the Mitsubishi of Kaoru Fujii, which suffered two flat tyres between stages SS7 and SS8 but restarted today.

PROVISIONAL OVERALL RESULTS

1. Crocker-Foletta, Subaru Rally Team (AUS), Subaru Impreza, 2:50:52.0
2. Pedder-Humm, Pedders Suspension (AUS), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, 2:51:26.2
3. Herridge-MacNeall, Subaru Rally Team (AUS), Subaru Impreza, 2:52:17.0
4. Ordynski-Stewart, Les Walkden Rallying (AUS), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, 2:53:56.5
5. Kremer-Berssen, MRF Tyres (IND), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, 2:53:56.7
6. Argyle-Smith, Racetech Seats (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI.5, 2:53:57.4
7. Nutahara-Hayashi, Advan-PIAA Rally Team (J), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, 2:54:05.5
8. Neale-Neale, Frank Neale (AUS), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V RS, 2:55:11.8
9. Barker-Drake, Ben Barker (AUS), Mitsubishi Lancer III, 2:58:06.8
10. Atkinson-Atkinson, Monster Sport Australia (AUS), Suzuki Ignis Super 1600, 3:03:36.7

For more information contact the Subaru Rally of Canberra media centre on +61 2 62301979 or visit www.roc.com.au for the latest results.

 

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