2005 Archive

Rally of China - Kan Chi Hong wins APRC

Kan Chi Hong
The Rally of China was won by Jussi Valimaki from Finland, driving a Mitsubishi Evo 8 for the Honghe Rally team. However for this event Valimaki was not registered for APRC points (driving a non-registered team) and therefore the APRC points winner in China was Malaysian duo Kan Chi Hong and co-driver Bernard Chin who finished 5th overall.

Second in APRC and 9th overall were New Zealanders Brian Green and Fleur Pederson, who managed to get their car across the finish-line safely despite loosing their sumpguard in the last two stages. Fan Fan and Li Jai were 14th and 3rd overall in APRC making it a clean sweep for the 92wy Rally Team and their fleet of Mitsubishi Evo 8's. Leading retirement was Katsu Taguchi and Jarkko Kalliolepa who went out before the 1st stage with a 'technical problem' . However by starting the event Jarkko competed in the minimum number of rallies to win the APRC co-drivers award - he will join Jussi Valimaki in Monaco for the FIA prize-giving awards.

Richard Burns
Richard Burns passed away on 26th November 2005 after a long illness.
Prior to becoming the World Rally Champion in 2001 Richard competed on the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
For a photographic tribute to Richard please click here.


The FIA Rallies commission has now confirmed the calendar and events for APRC 2006. (see below)
Thailand has been confirmed as the first reserve round, if one of the other events fails to run. Scheduled date for Thailand is 20-22 October 2006.

While the series regulations are not yet available, we can confirm that it will be a requirement for competitors to nominate 6 of the 7 rounds that they wish to score points at. This process of nomination must be done at the time of registration for the APRC. Full details of the registration process, and the regulations will be made available as soon as possible.

The confirmed 2006 calendar:

10-12 March - Australia - Canberra www.roc.com.au

14-16 April - New Caledonia - Noumea www.rallye-nc.net

26-28 May - New Zealand - Rotorua www.rallyrotorua.co.nz

07-09 July - Japan - Hokkaido www.rally-hokkaido.com

18-20 August - Malaysia - Johor www.malaysianrally.com

15-17 September - Indonesia - Makassar www.rallyindonesia.com

25-27 November - China - Shaoguan www.autosports.org.cn

Latest Television Distribution for APRC 2005

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship TV coverage is currently being broadcast in over 50 countries around the globe, with over 52,000,000 people watching the coverage for the 2005 season. Highlights from each round are available on WRC RallyWorld, Motorsport Asia and Motorsport Mundial, and broadcasters in Europe (MotorsTV and RaceWorld TV), China (12 regional stations) Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore,Vietnam, Indonesia, India), South America (ESPN South America) and the Pacific (New Zealand's SKY TV and Australia on FoxSports).

Rally of Thailand: Valimaki wins Thailand

Jussi Valimaki
The 2005 Rally of Thailand was won by Finnish driver Jussi Valimaki in an MRF Mitsubishi Lancer. With speeds exceeding 200kph the fast Thailand roads suited the power of the Mitsubishi and Valimaki dominated the event by winning 15 of the 16 stages. The expected challenge from current P-WRC leader Toshi Arai didn't eventuate and "Fast Jussi" won the event easily by 1 minute and 23 seconds, "I expected to be more tight, but for sure I wanted to win this rally, we want to challenge Arai here because we have nothing to lose. The championship was sealed, this was our target and very happy about the result".

Arai tried everything to beat Valimaki, but found the fast roads didn't suit his Subaru. While he would have liked to win in Thailand the Japanese driver has his focus on the WRC Rally of Australia where he hopes to wrap up the Production World Rally Championship. " I little disappointed not to beat Jussi and finish second, but this event has been good practice for Australia because road is quite fast and quite tricky also".

The only driver to beat Valimaki was his team-mate Katsu Taguchi and this was on stage 3. Unfortunately Taguchi's event came to an abrupt end on stage 7 - the Japanese driver going straight ahead at a junction and smashing his Mitsubishi into a tree " A little bit too fast, no not a 'little bit' - much too fast!!" said Taguchi as he surveyed the damage to his car.

On the podium for the third time this year was Malaysian driver Kan Chi Hong. Driving a Mitsubishi for the Chinese based Wan Yu Rally Team, Kan struggled with suspension problem on both days but stayed ahead of Kiwi Geof Argyle who finished 4th - the New Zealander also suffering suspension and shock absorber problems. Dermott Malley finished 5th, Brian Green 6th and Mitsuhiro Kunisawa 7th.

The next and final event in the APRC calendar is Rally of China 21-23 November.

Results - 2005 Rally of Thailand
1. Jussi Valimaki / Jarkko Kalliolepo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.04.20
2. Toshi Arai / Tony Sircombe Subaru Impreza WRC STi 2.05.43 +1.23
3. Kan Chee Hong / Bernard Chin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.08.28 +4.08
4. Geof Argyle / Grant Marry Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.11.39 +7.19
4. Dermott Malley / Jagdev Singh Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.12.15 +7.55
5. Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 2.15.06 +10.46
6. Mitsuhiro Kunisawa/Visut Sukosi Subaru Impreza 2.15.49 +11.29

Event information: www.thailandrally.com
APRC Photos: www.linear-photographs.com/aprc2005/2005-index.html
FIA APRC official website: www.fiaaprc.com

Rally of Thailand: Blue team versus Red Team

Jussi Valimaki
This weekends (21-23 October) 17th International Rally of Thailand looks like being a show-down between the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Champion Jussi Valimaki from Finland and the current leader in the Production World Rally Championship Toshi Arai from Japan. These two have battled it out right from the start of the Asia Pacific championship and generally Arai has come out on top, but since Canberra Valimaki has driven with the championship in mind. Now with the APRC title decided in his favor 'Fast Jussi' has the opportunity to go for an all out win and the faster conditions in Thailand should suit the Finn's style and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.

For Subaru's Toshi Arai the 2005 APRC has been used more as a training ground to keep him sharp for his main quest - the P-WRC crown. With only one more round to go in that championship the WRC Rally of Australia, Arai is leading the points race, but there are two strong competitors behind him that could still take the championship if Arai is not on the pace in Perth. As a build-up for the final, Rally of Thailand is perfect for Arai - and to stay match-fit he could have no better competitor than Valimaki as a sparring partner.

Geof Argyle from New Zealand is currently second overall in the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship standings after last month's Indonesia event and is determined to finish the year in that position. Thailand is familiar territory to the Silverstone Competition Tyres rally team, with both Geof Argyle and Brian Green having previously contested the event, albeit in more powerful Group A cars. Argyle says the roads used in Thailand are quite different to the rest of Asia and in some ways compare to Australia. "They are much faster and more flowing than Malaysia and Indonesia - similar in speed to Australia. They have that same sort of round pebble gravel layer on the roads of Canberra," said Argyle of his previous experience.

Toshi Arai
With two drivers within 6 points of his placing, Argyle is feeling the pressure at defending his placing. "There are three of us going for the same place, and since first place is taken; they all want my spot." Argyle added that the expected show-down between newly crowned 2005 champion Jussi Valimaki and Toshi Arai could play in to his hands. "I have only one thing to concentrate on, so any other battles could be our ticket to get home ahead of them."

Katsu Taguchi is another competitor that will be going to Thailand determined to do well. The Japanese driver is 3rd in the points and 2 points in front of countryman Arai. After a disappointing WRC Rally of Japan where he crashed out, Taguchi will be wanting to make amends and the Thailand roads should suit his fast style.

Lined up behind Taguchi is a Dermott Malley from New Zealand and Kan Chi Hong from Malaysia both driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. Making a welcome one-off appearance at the championship is Italian Nico Caldarola (a past APRC winner and Group N champion) who for this one event has taken over Fan Fan's car. Other entries include Argyle's team Brian Green and Mitsuhiro Kunisawa from Japan.

Event Description:

Rayong city is located on the coastal edge of Rayong Province and is located 220km south east of Bangkok. It is an area that is relatively unspoilt, but well known for its beaches, good food and fresh tropical fruit. Rally Headquarters is at the Star Plaza, and is located in the centre of Rayong.

Thailand's recorded history extends back to a bronze age about 5,600 years ago. Since then the country has seen three distinct dynasties - the Sukhotahi, Ayutthaya and the Chakri. They have influence from the Khmer and Burmese cultures, but are very proud to have never been colonised by any European countries. Until the middle of the 20 th century, the country was known as Siam.

It is the 17 th International Rally of Thailand. 2002 saw the introduction of the Kings Cup Trophy, and direct support from the royal family of Thailand. In 2004 the event was run as a candidate round for the APRC and in 2005 it is run again in APRC. Prior to this, however, Thailand has held rounds of the APRC and saw many of the worlds best rally drivers competing, including Colin McRae, Richard Burns, Tommi Makinen and Kenneth Eriksson.

Leg 1 and Leg 2 are both located north of Rayong, about 40km from Rally HQ. The route on both days travels through villages and rubber plantations. The gravel roads are smooth and fast, in parts both wide and narrow. Last year saw plenty of dust, but this year will depend (as always) on the weather. There is a fast and picturesque stage that runs beside the lakes of Nong Pla Lai Reservoir. Due to the effects of recent heavy rain the location of SS 7/9, has changed to Neunsamran with a total distance 25.02 kms.

Current 2005 APRC Driver Points
1. J Valimaki (Fin) 71
2. G Argyle (NZ) 42
3. K Taguchi (Jpn) 37
4. T Arai (Jpn) 35

Event information: www.thailandrally.com

APRC Photos: www.linear-photographs.com/aprc2005/2005-index.html

Valimaki wins Rally Indonesia and 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship

Jussi Valimaki
Finland's Jussi Valimaki is the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Champion after taking his third win of the season on the Gudang Garam International Rally Indonesia, the sixth round of the championship. Valimaki's win also secured the manufacturers championship for Mitsubishi and the co-drivers championship for Jarkko Kalliolepo.

Rally Indonesia was held on the island of Sulawesi and centred around the historic city of Makassar and took in 235.92 kilometers of competition over 13 special stages. Run in temperatures of 38ºC, the APRC crews battled against the extreme heat and in-car temperatures of 50ºC. As well as the heat there was also the dry choking dust - rain has not fallen in the area for six months. The stages, run through vast sugar plantations, were a mixture of conditions - some fast and smooth and others soft and rough. The event marked the return of international rallying to Indonesia, as an FIA sanctioned event has not been run in the country since 2000.

Valimaki was quick from the out-set and won the first six stages to establish a lead of 57 seconds at the end of the first leg. On the second leg he backed off to preserve the car in the rougher stages and finished with a lead of 38 seconds. "I am happy to win the rally and get the championship. The car and the team have been working very well, but it wasn't so easy as this rally was so hot and it takes everything out of my body. It's not always a question of the speed - for sure we have the speed but sometimes it's not necessary to push at maximum. I spared the car in the rougher parts and that's the way to finish in a good position. This was definitely the hardest event to win, because of the heat. We Scandinavians are not used to these temperatures - it's a bit too hot! For the next event in Thailand we have nothing to lose and can challenge Arai."

Team-mates Katsu Taguchi and Australian Mark Stacey finished the event in second position after engine and handling problems in the opening leg. The Japanese driver was very relieved to get to the final control "The temperature is so hot - its like hell!! We pushed hard today, but my team- mate seemed also to be going quick. The car was much better than yesterday, the team fixed the engine and changed the differential mapping. We had an engine problem in the first leg - overheating is quite a serious issue here, especially on the long stages, and sometimes the car was misfiring and when I pressed the throttle there was nothing," said Taguchi, one of a number of drivers to experience the same problem.

New Zealander Geof Argyle rounded off a top event for Mitsubishi with third position. "We're very happy to be on the podium, but we did have some problems in the event," said Argyle.
Dermott Malley
"The suspension worked loose which lost us some time and then I made the mistake of running mud tires - I thought the soft conditions would have suited them. I took the risk and unfortunately it didn't pay off. In the afternoon we got the right tires and things were a lot better, but then in the last stage we lost a lot of time with the car jumping out of gear. In the second leg, the engine started to over-heat and to combat that we had to put the heater on!".

Dermott Malley was 4th after a determined drive "Like everyone we've had our problems with the heat, but we're happy to get back into 4th". Brian Green was 5th, his Mitsubishi Lancer suffering some very severe handling problems on the final leg.

But the weekend belonged to Valimaki taking the win and sealing the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Valimaki proved from the first event in Canberra that he was going to be a major contender taking on the world fastest production car driver Arai, in a straight fight and winning the 1st leg of the event by 1.5 second. The MRF Mitsubishi driver did have some luck, such as Arai's eventual disqualification at Canberra giving the Finn the win and then Taguchi's retirement in New Caledonia, that lead to another win. "Fast Juss" proved though, to win championships first you must finish and thats the one thing he has done consistently all season - finish all events he's started and with hardly a scratch on the car. The next event in Thailand will be interesting, Arai versus Valimaki on fast flowing roads around Rayong and 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions in the championship are still undecided.

Results - 2005 Gudang Garam International Rally Indonesia

1. Jussi Valimaki / Jarkko Kalliolepo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3.23.50
2. Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3.24.28 +38
3. Geof Argyle / Jane Black Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3.32.9 +8.19
4. Dermott Malley / Jagdev Singh Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3.42.35 +18.45
5. Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 3.45.2 +21.12

Driver Championship Points - 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship

1 Jussi Valimaki (Fin) 71
2 Geof Argyle (NZ) 42
3. Katsu Taguchi (Jpn) 37
4. Toshi Arai (Jpn) 35
5. Dermott Malley (NZ) 26
6. Chee Hong Kan (Mal) 22
7. Brian Green (NZ) 15
8. Mitsuhiro Kunisawa (Jpn) 11
9. Fan Fan (Chn) 5
10. Julian Langlet (Fr) 4
For points table: http://www.fiaaprc.com/pdf_files/aprc_pts_05.pdf

Driver Quotes at end of Final Leg - 2005 Rally Indonesia

MRF Jussi Valimaki Podium
Jussi Valimaki: 2005 APRC Champion and 1st position:
I'm happy to win the rally and get the championship. The car and the team have been working very well, but it wasn't so easy, for example this rally was so hot and it takes everything out my body. Its not always a question of the speed, for sure we have the spped but sometimes its not necessary to push at maximum. For example today I spare the car where it was rougher parts and that the way and thats the way to finish in a good position. This was definitely the hardest event to win, because of the heat - we Scandanivians are not used to this teperatures its a bit too hot!! For the next event in Thailand we have nothing to loose and we can challenge Arai

Katsu Taguchi 2nd position:
The temperature is so hot - like hell!! We pushed hard today, but my team-mate seemed also to be going quick. The car was much better than yesterday, the team fixed the engine and changed the differential mapping.

Geof Argyle 3rd position:
We're very happy to be on the podium, but we did have some problems in the event. Yesterday I selected the wrong tyre for the conditions and we lost a lot of time in that section. In afternoon and we had a problem with the gearbox, jumping out of gear. Then today in the hot conditions the engine started to over-heat and to combat that we had to put the heater on!!

Driver Quotes at end of 1st Leg - 2005 Rally Indonesia

Jussi Valimaki: 1st position at end of leg 1:
"we have a good day, but it was also very difficult and very hot. Some of the stages are quite long and the average speeds low, and therefore the inside of the car gets very hot. Its been quite interesting because I have never driven these kind of stages, tomorrow I believe is not so rough, the stages are more smooth and no so big rocks".

Katsu Taguchi: 2nd position at end of the leg 1:
"We had a engine problem, overheating is quite serious especially the long stages, sometimes mis-firing and press the throttle there is no rpm, but still we are here and second place its not so bad. We will try hard tomorrow, the roads are more narrow and more twisty, so going to be a tough rally tomorrow".

Geof Argyle: 3rd position at end of leg 1:
"Unfortunately we had suspension came loose which lost us some time and then I made the mistake of running mud tyres - I thought the soft conditions would have suited them. I took the risk and unfortunately and it didn't pay off. This afternoon we got on the right tyres and things have gone a lot better, but then in the last stage we lost a lot time with the car jumping out of gear. Tomorrow stages are not quite so rough so I'm looking forward to them".

Brian Green: 4th position (in APRC) at end of leg 1:
"Its been a real hard day, the roads have been quite rutted out and the heats been a real battle for me today, we had problems with suspension and turbo boost, but the turbo problem was self inflicted, we ran off the road and had a real exciting moment", there should be some good in-car footage that incident".

Dermott Malley:5th position (in APRC) at end of leg 1:
"We were having a great day, made some changes to the car and they seemed to have worked very well, news tyres, new suspension and new diff programme. Unfortunately on the last stage of the day we've broken a half-shalf and lost 5 minutes and hopefully we can fix it and get the time back tomorrow".

Driver Quotes prior to start of 2005 Rally Indonesia

Jussi Valimaki: (Current Asia pacific Rally Championship leader on 55 points) "If I get 13 points from here I confirm the championship, it doesn't matter what happens on the last two rallies. So my approach on this rally is to confirm the championship and keep the car in one piece, but if we can win here without any risk - I I'll try."

Katsu Taguchi: "My first time rally in Indonesia, but I have been gravel crew for Shinosuka-san, but first time to compete. Its very very hot and similar heat to Malaysia and some people say more hot than Malaysia. Road is quite hard surface and many places are very sandy with some big rocks, so we have to be careful."

Geof Argyle: " its a lot softer that we expected and its going to be crucial to get the corner speeds right. We hope to be able to foot with MRF cars, we had the car working well towards the end of Malaysia Rally. Definitely aiming for a podium and if we're going well, we'll try and win it. "

APRC - Gudang Garam International Rally Indonesia
Round 6: 9-11 September 2005 - www.rallyindonesia.com

Rally Indonesia

The Gudang Garam International Rally Indonesia begins this weekend on the island of Sulawesi and based in the historic city of Makassar. Rally Indonesia sees the return of the dominant MRF Mitsubishi Ralliart team and after their 1-2 victory at Rally Hokkaido in July, look likely to repeat that result even though the team skipped last months Malaysia Rally. Championship leader Jussi Valimaki from Finland leads the APRC points race on 55 points and is 20 points ahead of nearest rival Japan's Toshi Arai. The Subaru driver won't be competing in Indonesia due to WRC commitments, so Valimaki's competition will come from his Japanese team-mate Katsu Taguchi and the Silverstone Tyres Mitsubishi driven by New Zealander Geof Argyle. Argyle is currently 3rd in the championship with 34 points and is confident he has the right set-up for the Indonesian conditions after a podium finish in Malaysia. Other APRC competitors in Indonesia include Dermott Malley and Argyle's team-mate Brian Green. All competitors are driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8s.

Driver Championship Points - 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship
1 Jussi Valimaki (Fin) 55
2 Toshi Arai (Jpn) 35
3 Geof Argyle (NZ) 34
4 Katsu Taguchi (Jpn) 25
5 Chee Hong Kan (Mal) 22
6 Dermott Malley (NZ) 21
7= Brian Green (NZ) 11
7= Mitsuhiro Kunisawa (Jpn) 11
9 Fan Fan (Chn) 5
10 Julian Langlet (Fr) 4
Download full PDF Document

Arai Wins Hot Malaysia Rally

Toshi Arai (JP)
Japan's Toshi Arai in his Sanden Subaru has won the 2005 Malaysia Rally. Arai was chased all the way by local Malaysian driver Kan Chi Hong and New Zealander Geof Argyle both in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's.

Arai established an early lead, but dropped to third place when his team was forced to change his gearbox after only two stages. The Japanese driver fought his way back to second by the mid-day service halt and then when the rains came in the afternoon he raced ahead in the slippery conditions to finish the day over 1 minute 53 seconds in front of Kan Chi Hong. However along with several other foreign drivers Arai was suffering badly with dehydration from the hot and very humid conditions and had to have a precautionary visit to the ambulance before being driven back to base by co-driver Tony Sircombe. Fully recovered on day-2 Arai increased his lead to finish 3 minutes and 52 seconds in front of Kan. "The roads are very difficult to read and the hot conditions made it one of the most difficult rallies ever!!' said Arai at the finish.

Kan Chee Hong (MAL)
Second for Kan Chi Hong was a great result for the Malaysian driver whose knowledge of the unique local conditions proved valuable. Bernard China co-driver for Kan Chee Hong was happy "we couldn't have asked for anything better, Arai was really fast today and we couldn't catch him - he's in a league of his own. We did what we could and that was to keep 2nd and keep Argyle behind us".

Geof Argyle was hoping for a better result to keep his titles hopes alive. "It was very frustrating yesterday that we lost so much time, but we came back strong today and the car's working perfectly and the tyres just as I predicted they would. We pushed as hard as we could, but we missed 2nd place by 13 seconds. We are confident now for the next round in Indonesia where conditions are similar to what we've experienced here - hard and fast when its dry, very slippery in the wet.

Dermott Malley finished 4th after his co-driver and son Patrick Malley suffered neck problems after a very heavy landing. Brian Green retired after an oil pipe came off after Stage 5 - a result of a slight nudge against a small bank. China's Fan Fan retired with steering problems on SS12.

Final Results:
1. Toshi Arai / Tony Sircombe - Sanden Subaru - 03.40.46
2. Kan Chee Hong / Bernard Chin - Mitsubishi Lancer - 03.44.38 (+3:52)
3. Geof Argyle / Jane Black - Mitsubishi Lancer - 03.44.51 (+0.13)
4. Dermott Malley / Patrick Malley - Mitsubishi Lancer - 03.56.00 (+6.04)

Driver Championship Points - 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship
1 Jussi Valimaki (Fin) 55
2 Toshi Arai (Jpn) 35
3 Geof Argyle (NZ) 34
4 Katsu Taguchi (Jpn) 25
5 Chee Hong Kan (Mal) 22
6 Dermott Malley (NZ) 21
7= Brian Green (NZ) 11
7= Mitsuhiro Kunisawa (Jpn) 11
9 Fan Fan (Chn) 5
10 Julian Langlet (Fr) 4
Download full PDF Document

Calendar for the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship:
Round 6 - Rally of Indonesia (9 - 11 September) - www.rallyindonesia.com
Round 7 - Rally of Thailand (21 - 23 October) - www.thailandrally.com
Round 8 - Rally of China (25 - 27 November)

Malaysia Rally - Preview
Aria versus Argyle


NEXT EVENT: http://www.malaysianrally.com

The Malaysia Rally makes a welcome return to international rallying this weekend as Round 5 of the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Malaysia is a unique environment for rallying - held on roads that traverse palm-oil and rubber plantations and surfaces that are a mixture of hard fast clay or super slippery mud. Adding temperatures up to 40 degrees C, extreme humidity and the odd tropical down-pour will give the APRC teams a real challenge.

Geof Argyle (NZ)
With the championship leader Jussi Valimaki from Finland, along with his MRF Mitsubishi team-mate Hokkaido winner Katsu Taguchi opting to drop this round - the Malaysia Rally will be battle between Japan's Toshi Arai (Subaru) and Geof Argyle (Mitsubishi).

With Argyle tied for second place overall in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, a good result in Malaysia is essential to give him any chance of challenging for the overall title. Having elected to miss the round in Japan, Argyle commented. "By dropping Japan from our programme was the best way to achieve the goal of winning the championship. We needed time to check the cars and rethink our strategy. By doing every round and hoping we finish at the top isn't a smart strategy in this sort of championship" And while 30 points behind Valimaki, Argyle says the hurdle is big - but not insurmountable, "We need to score 10 points with a win to have a real shot".

Toshi Arai (JP)
Japan's Toshi Arai's chances of taking the championship now look impossible, with his big crash at Rally of Hokkaido. Arai has won twice this year, but one of those was subsequently taken away from him in post event scrutineering and therefore while third place in the points, there are not sufficient rounds left to catch Valimaki. However while the APRC has not gone according to plan for Arai and the Sanden Subaru, the teams 2005 Production World Rally Championship challenge is on track with Arai currently leading the points race.

Other drivers likely to go well in Malaysia are Chee Hong Kan, Brian Green and Dermott Malley. Kan is the only Malaysian entered in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and showed his abilities by finishing 2nd in New Caledonia. Kan will drive one of the Wan Yu Rally team Mitsubishi Lancers along with Chinese team-leader Fan Fan, also in a Mitsubishi.

Argyle's team-mate Brian Green has a lot of experience in Malaysia and is the 2004 Malaysian Rally Champion. Both Green and Argyle will spend time in Malaysia testing under the unique tropical conditions.

Fellow kiwi Dermott Malley, fresh from a podium finish at the last round in Hokkaido, will be keen to improve on his current 4th position in the points. Malley has also rallied in Malaysia and on current form, a good bet for another podium finish.

The Malaysia Rally will be based in the southern province of Johor Bahru across the causeway from Singapore, with 16 stages near Kota Tinggi to the east of host city Johor. The rally starts at 7am (Saturday 20th August) and concludes with a ceremonial finish at Danga Bay from 3pm (Sunday 21st August).

Driver Championship Points - 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship
1 Jussi Valimaki (Fin) 55
2= Katsu Taguchi (Jpn) 25
2= Geof Argyle (NZ) 25
4 Toshi Arai (Jpn) 19
5 Dermott Malley (NZ) 16
6= Chee Hong Kan (Mal) 11
6= Brian Green (NZ) 11

Calendar for the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship:
Round 1 - Rally of Canberra (22-24 April)
Round 2 - Rally of New Caledonia (20 - 22 May)
Round 3 - Rally of Rotorua, New Zealand (17 - 19 June)
Round 4 - Rally of Hokkaido, Japan (22 - 24 July)
Round 5 - Malaysia Rally (19 - 21 August)
Round 6 - Rally of Indonesia (9 - 11 September)
Round 7 - Rally of Thailand (21 - 23 October)
Round 8 - Rally of China (25 - 27 November)

Rally Hokkaido
Taguchi wins his first home International


Hokkaido Podium
The MRF Mitsubishi Ralliart team scored an emphatic victory in the Rally Hokkaido, round four of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. 1999 APRC Champion Katsuhiko Taguchi claimed outright victory and added 15 points to his championship tally , while MRF Tyre team-mate Jussi Välimäki finished second and continues to lead the Championship.

Rally Hokkaido took in 16 stages and 245.16 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 1,021.38 kilometers. Based around the central service park in Kibou Gaoka Rally Park, eight kilometers north of Central Obihiro City in the sub-prefecture of Tokachi, the route proved tricky for the contenders as all but one of the eight different stages was either totally new or run in a different configuration.

While Mitsubishi ended up with first, second and third it was not looking that way on the first day. Five kilometres into the first stage Jussi Valimaki suffered a puncture and with 21 kilometres still to run the championship leader and stand-in co-driver Panu Plosila had to change the tyre in the stage, loosing 4-minutes and dropping to 24th place. In an amazing drive back up through the field by SS2 the pair had climbed to 13th overall and by the end of the 1st leg they were back to 3rd in APRC.

Katsu Taguchi
Team-mate Taguchi also had a lucky escape on the first day, bending the steering in one of the first stages. Mark Stacey and Taguchi fixed the problem, but on the run back to Obhira service they nearly lost a wheel on the road section. Luckily the pair lost no time at all and finished the first leg 2-minutes behind rally leader and Subaru star Toshi Arai.

The current P-WRC leader Arai was cruising to what seemed an easy victory. Going into stage 11 Arai had a 2 minutes and 46 second lead over Taguchi and further 3 minutes back was Valimaki. However 700 metres into the stage it seems a surface change from gravel to tarmac caught Arai out and he and and co-driver Tony Sircombe rolled into retirement. Both the crew were un-hurt but the Subaru was badly damaged and a replacement car will be shipped to Malaysia.

Taguchi moved into first place and with his team-mate over 2 minutes behind cruised to his first international victory at home. "It seems that I have finally won!" said Katsuhiko at the finish, "All I want to say to my fans in Japan, who have been supporting me for a long time, thanks for you patience!" .

Team-mate Välimäki, who has claimed two APRC victories so far this season, weas releived to finish second after his earlier troubles "First of all I would like to congratulate Taguchi on his impressive and well-deserved win", said Jussi. "Also, I am greatly satisfied that the team was able to achieve a 1-2 finish. Overall I think I did a little better than I did yesterday. I am really happy that I was able to maintain my championship position".

In a fantastic third place was New Zealander Dermott Malley, also in a Mitsubishi. Malley's decision to enter Rally of Hokkaido,was a last minute one and made the day Rally of Rotorua finished. In the overall rally he was always in the top 10 times and thoroughly deserved his first international podium finish. The only other APRC finisher was Mitsuhiro Kunisawa, the WRC TV commentator for Japanese TV.

Jussi Välimäki still leads the drivers championship with 55 points, equal 2nd is Taguchi and kiwi Geof Argyle on 25 points, Arai on 19, Malley 16, equal 6th on 11 points are Kunisawa, Chee Hong Kan, Brian Green.

The fifth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the contenders to Rally Malaysia (August 19-21). The MRF team is not entering this round and therefore the battle for victory will be between Arai, Argyle and Malaysian driver Chee Hong Kan.

Rally Hokkaido APRC Showdown
Photos: Ross Hyde and Euan Cameron

The 2005 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship commences its journey through Asia on Japan's island of Hokkaido in two weeks time. For the first time Rally Hokkaido will be held in mid-summer when many say the island, free of the high humidity, rainy season of the rest of the country, is at its best.

The APRC crews must be hoping this holds true for the rally roads as, so far this year, they have had to endure a blindingly dusty Canberra, a wet and slippery New Caledonia and a less wet but equally slippery Rotorua.

Toshi Arai
Current points leader, Finn Jussi Valimaki is also hoping the move to a more familiar northern hemisphere forest setting that will counter the hometown advantage of arch rival, Toshi Arai. Valimaki's two APRC wins so far this year have both owed something to the misfortune of others, so nothing would please him more than to score a clear victory at Rally Hokkaido.

Arai and his Subaru Impreza will be Valimaki's biggest challenge. He has been in devastating form this season, not only in the APRC, but also in the Production Car World Rally Championship, which he currently leads. In addition, though not in the APRC section of Rally Japan last year, he was clearly fastest Group N competitor.

If past form is taken into account then Valimaki's team-mate at MRF Tyres, Katsuhiko Taguchi could well be the one standing on top of the podium at this year's rally.

Katsuhiko Taguchi
However, he first must shake off the jinx that has so far kept him off it in Hokkaido. Remarkably, Katsu has led or been fighting for the lead there every year since 2001, only to be denied a result, often within sight of the finish!

Added to the usual difficulty in predicting the result is the fact that every stage at Rally Hokkaido except the 2.7km Rikubetsu Circuit Special is new. Two Special Stage venues are completely new while the remainder are being run in the reverse direction. This is to avoid them being used as practice for the WRC round, later in the year. This levelling of the playing field could produce a surprise winner, as much more will depend on accurate pacenoting and the ability to quickly adapt to a variety of unfamiliar road surfaces. Thirty-two crews have entered this fourth round of the APRC, with a further forty-five cars running behind in the accompanying national round.

Rally Hokkaido will take place within the sub-prefecture of Tokachi from July 22-24. The rally base will be at the Kibou Gaoka Rally Park. This is conveniently located close to the Otofuke business area and only 8km north of Central Obihiro City.

Arai wins and Valimaki keeps championship lead
Photos: Ross Hyde - Linear Photographs

Toshi Arai
Toshi Arai from Japan has won the Hella International Rally of Rotorua, the third round of the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. In second was the championship leader Jussi Valimaki from Finland driving a Ralliart MRF Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. Even though it was a technically difficult event, made even harder by the wintery wet conditions all APRC competitors finished the event.

Arai and his Kiwi co-driver Tony Sircombe, the current leaders of the FIA World Production Car Championship (PWRC) are also competing in the 2005 APRC and after two rounds had no points and a good result on Rally of Rotorua was essential if the Arai and his team was to maintain any hope of taking the title for Subaru. The Japanese driver produced a faultless display to take victory by two and a half minutes, from series leader Jussi Valimaki. Once again the 47 kilometre Motu stage proved to be the decider, with Arai blitzing the rest of the APRC field by a full 50 seconds. "I began to wonder, when is it going to finish, its so long. Otherwise condition was not bad", said Arai at the Motu finish control. Starting the second leg with a 1 minute and 41 second margin, Arai was able to cruise in the mid-winter wet conditions but still had a few minor excursions on the way to winning two of the day's four stages.

Jussi Valimaki
For Jussi Valimaki this event was all about maintaining the championship lead. After the first 14 kilometre stage he led the event by 0.1 seconds from Arai, but decided the pace was too hot to maintain "we proved we could be on the pace, but it was too risky. It was better to get points for the APRC series, thats our priority so we backed off" said Valimaki at the end of Leg 1.

For Valimaki's team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi, just making the finish was the goal. After two non-finishes from two events it was time to get some points and re-build confidence. Taguchi was very happy at the finish "We had a huge spin on the last stage, and I thought a number of times it was all over - again!!, but we are here and 3rd is good. Next is Hokkaido my home event".

New Zealander Geof Argyle had promised his team a home-town win but niggling mechanical problems kept him far off the pace, but finished fourth to maintain his second place in the APRC standings, 18 points behind Jussi Valimaki (43 points). A frustrated Argyle commented at the finish " I'm disappointed because in Canberra we weren't far off the pace and here it seemed we're in a completely different rally. We have decided not to go to Japan and use the time for testing and development of the car. It's a waste of time to continue getting 3rd and 4ths, we need to win to take the championship".

Driver Lineup
Fifth APRC competitor home was kiwi Dermott Malley in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 who finally beat his old rival Brian Green in a similar car. "We had a great battle and always do, finally I beat him!!" said a jublilant Malley after the finish. Japanese driver Mitsuhiro Kunisawa was 7th in his 2nd international rally and looking forward to his home event next month.

After such a good result in New Caledonia the Wan Yu Rally team from China finished 8th and 10th after mechanical problems hit both cars on Day 2. Chee Hong Kan had turbo problesm and was only able to continue when Brian Green lent him his spare, while team-boss Fan Fan hit one of the fords on SS5 (Whakarau) a bit too hard and took out his radiator fan, a piece flying off and knocking a huge hole in the Mitsubishi radiator (a similar problem led to Taguchi's retirement in New Caledonia). Fan Fan and co-driver Jun Wei Fang were only able to continue by refilling the radiator every 5 kilometre until they got back to service in Matawai. Julian Lenglet from Vanuatu in a Honda Intergra was 9th, after a controlled drive to take the 2-wheel drive points.

Asia Pacific Championship points after three rounds:
Valimaki 43, Argyle 25, Arai 16, Taguchi, Kan, Green all 11, Malley 9, Kanisawa 6, Fan 5, Lenglet 4.

Hella Intl Rally of Rotorua
Arai leads as West and Mason do battle


World championship leader Toshi Arai will take a one minute advantage into tomorrow’s final day of the Hella International Rally of Rotorua.

Arai (Japan), the current leader of the FIA World Production Car Championship (PWRC), showed his class in the soggy, testing conditions in the eastern North Island. The Subaru driver and his Kiwi co-driver Tony Sircombe won two of today’s three special stages in the rally which doubles as the third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally championships and fourth round of the Parker Enzed New Zealand Rally Championship.

Provisionally Arai leads Masterton’s Richard Mason by 59.5secs with a further 2.8 seconds back to national championship leader Chris West (Auckland) with the Kiwi pair set for a monumental battle tomorrow.

It proved a dominating day for Subaru who fill the first three positions despite the final two stages predicted to favour the Mitsubishis contingent

Current Asia Pacific points leader Jussi Valimake (Finland) is fourth 1min 413sec behind the leader. Joint overnight leader Mark Tapper dropped back to fifth after losing power when he broke an intercooler pipe in the long and winding roads of the 47.8km Motu stage.

Arai, fresh from winning the latest round of the PWRC in Turkey, turned up the heat in the legendary Motu, coping with the testing terrain and worsening conditions to be 23 seconds quicker than Mason, who was next best. He extended his buffer to a minute with fastest time in the 32km stage five in Whakarau and from that point the rest of the field were left fighting for the minors.

"I was quite happy. It was very good today," Arai said. "It was quite slippery in places today but I am very glad to be in the front of the field. The Motu stage was good but we had our spare tyre loose in the back which was quite distracting."

Mason and West continued where they left off in the previous championship round in Wairarapa, swapping second place at every stage today. Mason’s efforts in the Motu pushed him ahead of West for the first time before the national champion edged back ahead by just one second after SS5. Mason had the final say of the day when he claimed fastest time for the final 25km stage at Rakauroa to lead West by 2.8 seconds.

Mason was delighted with his form.
"It was fantastic today. There were absolutely no hiccups at all. I’m bouncing off the walls with that effort, but not literally of course."

Mason said he was looking forward to the battle with West for New Zealand honours tomorrow.

Arai, who was excluded from the first round of the Asia Pacific in Canberra, will be able to drive defensively in tomorrow’s final four stages close to Rotorua to pick up the overall honours as well as maximum points in the championship.

Valimaki, who won the last round in New Caledonia, is 1min 41secs from the lead but is likely to opt for a safety-first approach as he is 1min 15sec clear of third placed Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) for Asia Pacific points.

There was only one significant mishap despite negotiating some of the most demanding stages in world rallying and wet conditions. Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour, second in the national championship, went out after damaging the drive shaft 34kms into the Motu,

Provisional Results (Day 1):
Hella International Rally of Rotorua (after six special stages):

1. Toshi Arai-Tony Sircombe (Japan, Subaru) 1:54
2. Richard Mason-Hamish Fenemor (Masterton, Mitsubishi Evo at 59.5s
3. Chris West-Garry Cowan (Auckland, Subaru) at 1:02
4. Jussi Valimaki-Jarkko Kallioepo (Finland, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 1:41
5. Mark Tapper-Jeff Judd (Auckland, Mitsubishi Evo 7) at 1:45
6. Hiroshi Yanagisawa-Tadashi Misaizu (Japan, Subaru) at 2:35
7. Sam Murray-Stuart Jenkinson (Palmerston North, Subaru) at 2:48
8. Katsuhiko Taguchi-Mark Stacey (Japan, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 2:56
9. Brett Martin-Raymond Bennett (Taihape, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 3:09
10. Geof Argyle-Jane Black (Palmerston North, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 3:45
11. Dean Sumner-Jeff Cress (Rotorua, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 3:59
12. Glenn Smith-Colin Smith (Hawera, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 4:36
13. Dylan Turner-Sandeep Bansal (Auckland, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 4:47
14. Brent Taylor-Chris Ramsay (Cambridge, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 10:12
15. Lee-Anne Barns-Erin Kyle (Auckland, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 11:02
16. Grant Barber-Bede O’Connor (Foxton, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 11:04
17. Brian Green-Fleur Pederson (Palmerston North, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 12:10
18. Dermott Malley-Stephen Smith (Hastings, Mitsubishi Evo 8) at 12:20
19. Masahiro Nakajima-Naoki Kurosaki (Japan, Subaru) at 12:30
20. Patrick Christian-Frederic Perraud (New Caledonia, Mitsubishi Evo 6) at 15:57

For further information contact:
Ian Hepenstall
Sports Media NZ
Tel +64 (0)9 2322960
Mob +64 (0)21 613181

Full field for Rotorua

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship moves from the warm tropical climate of New Caledonia to winter conditions in the North Island of New Zealand. The 2005 Hella International Rally of Rotorua is round three and has attracted all the registered APRC competitors.

A real challenge for the drivers and co-drivers will be the 47 kilometre Motu stage - a long twisting mountain stage and run in full for the first time in 10 years. The twenty-nine car international field includes 12 international drivers from seven different nations.

Toshi Arai
Number one seed for the event is Japanese rally ace Toshi Arai with ex patriot Kiwi Tony Sircombe as co-driver in a Subaru Impreza. Arai is Japan's most successful rally driver and is contesting both the Asia Pacific and Production World Rally Championships in 2005. Arai heads to Rotorua on top form claiming victory on the last stage in the production category at the recent World Championship Rally of Turkey.

Starting second on the road will be the 1999 Asia Pacific Rally Champion Katsuhiko Taguchi from Japan with co-driver Mark Stacey. Taguchi has had a disappointing start to the season with retirements in the previous two rounds at Canberra and New Caledonia both while leading the APRC field, and will be hoping to improve on his impressive fourth placing at Rotorua last year in the MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8. "This event I must finish - not win, just finish' said Taguchi after his retirement while leading the New Caledonian event.

Teammate in the two-car MRF Tyres Team Jussi Valimaki of Finland starts at three. 'Fast Jussi' as he is nicknamed currently leads the APRC points table. "I know and enjoy the New Zealand, so maybe we can score a hat-trick" said Valimaki after his second APRC win in New Caledonia.

The first Kiwi driver Geoff Argyle and co-driver Jane Black will start at four in the Team Total Lubricants Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8. Argyle, a twice-former New Zealand Rally Champion Argyle is currently second in the APRC points, eleven points behind Valimaki. "We can and we will win here - its our home ground!" said Argyle.

Geoff Argyle
Next APRC competitor is Argyle team-mate Brian Green, currently 4th in APRC points and seeded 19th.

Kan Chee Hong from Malaysia follows in 20th, driving a Mitsubishi LancerEvo 8. Kan finished a surprised 2nd in New Caledonia, playing it cool in the slippery conditions and is currently third in the championship.

New Zealander Dermott Malley is next in the Onyx Finance Mitsubishi Evo 8, followed by Japanese Rally TV commentator Mitsuhiro Kunisawa ' commentary is easy - rally driving is not!" after his first international event Rally of Canberra.

The welcome entry in the championship from China is Fan Fan in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 and seeded 26th. Julian Lenglet from Vanuatu is the only entrant in the 2-wheel drive class and is seeded 30th. Lenglet proved he is a very capable driver after a good finish in the very slippery New Caledonia event - he will enjoy the New Zealand roads.

The Hella International Rally of Rotorua starts from City Focus in the heart of Rotorua at noon on Friday 17th June with two legs and three days of competition in the Rotorua and greater Bay of Plenty Region followed by the ceremonial finish back at City Focus on the afternoon of Sunday 19th June. So far the area has been enjoying fine weather, frosty starts and fine clear days, up to 15 degrees C.

TV coverage of the 2005 APRC can be seen on WRC Rally World

Rally New Caledonia:
Valimaki Takes Second Win


Finnish driver Jussi Valimaki won the Rally of New Caledonia, 2nd round of the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, taking his second win in a row.

Rally of New Caledonia proved again to be one of the toughest events in the championship, with torrential rain on leg 1 and although the sun shone through on leg 2, the roads were still as slippery as ice "It was just like Monte Carlo on slicks" said winner Valamaki. Most of the drivers had problems of one sort or another - it often came down to having a little bit of luck and driving to survive.

Most of the event was led by Valimaki's team-mate Katsukio Taguchi in the MRF Ralliart Mitsubishi. During leg 1 he was the only top driver staying out of trouble while others around him went off the road or had mechanical problems.

Mechanical woes struck Valimaki early in the event, a front differential failing on the 25 kilometre stage 2, loosing him 20 seconds to Taguchi. Even after it was fixed in service, no matter how much he tried, Valimaki was unable to reel in Taguchi. The Japanese driver appeared to be on a mission, after no points from the previous round in Canberra he was determined to finish - and was setting a pace that others couldn't match.

Many of the top contenders experienced problems on leg 1. Geof Argyle lost 8 minutes on stage 4 with a hose falling off the intercooler, Dermott Malley was forced out after his rear diff failed on a touring stage and Brian Green went off the road in the slippery conditions.

Taguchi finished leg 1 with a comfortable 40 second lead and was looking to maintain his pace in leg 2. Unfortunately it was not to be, as on stage13 the car over-heated. He said "We are driving quite slow today and on stage 13 we noticed the temperature is going up but we had to get to the end of the stage. After that we discovered the radiator fan is broken and had made a hole in the radiator. We cannot re-start the engine again and we are out. I think my luck is in another country at the moment, I must finish the next event in New Zealand".

Meanwhile Valimaki, lying second, was able to take over his team-mates lead, a position he held until the finish. At the finish he said "It was a very tough event, we learnt alot of things and one of those is patience, you never know what is going to happen. It was so much rain, with wet and slippery conditions it was difficult to catch Katsu-san, so we had a tactic to wait and see - and then my team-mate has an engine problem. For us its victory again, I am happy we will try and make it a hat-trick and win the next event in Rotorua, because I enjoy and know very well the New Zealand roads"

In 2nd place was the surprise of the event, Malaysian based Kan Chee Hong with co-driver Bernard Chin who was entered under the Wan Yu Rally Team from China. Normally used to driving in the wet and slippery Malaysian jungles, the rainy and slippery conditions were not a problem to Kan, but the fast New Caledonian roads were something completely new. At the finish Kan said "The roads are slippery here same as in Malaysia, but here the speed is so fast. We didn't expect to get any good result, just came here for experience. We must save the cars for the next rounds in New Zealand and Japan so we actually drive safely".

After his leg 1 problems Mitsubishi Evo 8 driver Geof Argyle hauled himself back into a podium position at the finish taking 3rd place. "We're really happy with our result, after loosing 7-8 minutes with the intercooler pipe, we've got another good haul of points for the championship. The next rally is our home event and we can and will do well there.".

The 4th Place driver was Kan team-mate Chinese driver Fan Fan. Driving a Mitsubishi Evo 8, Fan drove a controlled event at his own pace and reaped the rewards with points for the championship.

Another new-comer to the championship was Julien Lenglet from Vanuatu, driving a Honda Integra. Lenglet impressed many with his aggressive driving, especially in the slippery conditions. His only problem all rally was a puncture on the last stage.

Both Dermott Malley and Brian Green elected to use the SupeRally regulations and rejoin the event for leg 2. Green had an unusual off-road excursion, a tight right-hander at the finish of stage 12 caught the kiwi out and he disappeared off the road prior to the finish beam. When he finally regained the rally route it was after the finish-beam and therefore he never recorded a finish time.

The biggest disappointment of the event, apart from the weather, was the no-show of last years champion Karamjit Singh. Unfortunately the promised sponsorship did not eventuate and while Singh's container and car was shipped to New Caledonia, the team cancelled their flights and stayed at home.

The next event is Rally of Rotorua and will see the return of the Mighty Motu has one long stage of 47 kilometres. Rotorua will also see Toshi Arai return to the series - it should be a good four-way fight between Taguchi, Valimaki, Argyle and Arai.





















KAN Chee Hong - CHIN Bernard


















FAN Fan - HE Yong
















Rally New Caledonia Preview
Karamjit Singh to defend APRC Title


The Asia Pacific Rally Championship returns to the tropical island of French New Caledonia this weekend for the 2nd round of the championship - Rally of Nouvelle Caledonie. Known for its beautiful beaches, palm trees and red roads, the event is always a tough one, with fast mountain roads in the North and open plain and fast in the south.

Rally of New Caledonia will see the return of last years champion Karamjit Singh with new co-driver Jagdev Singh. Karamjit will no doubt be eyeing up the competition, particularly the championship leader after round 1, Finish driver Jussi Valimaki in an MRF Ralliart Mitsubishi. Last years winner in New Caledonia and currently second in this years championship is New Zealander Geoff Argyle who returns with the latest spec Mitsubishi Lancer. Argyle's Silverstone Tyres team-mate Brian Green is third, followed by yet another kiwi Dermott Malley in the Onyx Capital Mitsubishi Evo 8.

Valimaki's Japanese team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi will be looking to make amends after a dismal start to the season in Canberra, no points and wrecking one of the MRF team cars. A new team joins the APRC, the Wan Yu Rally team from China, with drivers Fan Fan (China) and Kan Chee Hong (Malaysia) both driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's. Also new to the championship is Julien Lenglet from Vanuatu driving a Honda Integra. Though not entered in this years championship New Caledonian resident driver Jean Louis Leyraud in a Subaru will no doubt give the international drivers some fierce competition.

The Rally of New Caledonia begins on Friday (20th May) night with a ceremonial start, followed by two legs, 17 stages and 224 competitive kilometers over the next two days. The ceremonial finish will be on Sunday afternoon in Noumea.

Registered drivers for the 2005 APRC

1.  Jussi Valimaki (FIN) , Jarkko Kalliolepo (FIN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, MRF Tyres (India) - 16 points
2.  Geof Argyle (NZ) , Jeremy Sinclair, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ) - 12 points
3.  Brian Green, Fleur Pederson, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ) - 8 points
4.  Dermott Malley (NZ), Stephen Andrew Smith (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, M Rally Team (NZ) - 5 points
5.  M. Kunisawa (J) / S Bachmann(AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX - 4 points
6.  Chee Hong Kan (MAL), Bernard U-Min Chin (MAL), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN)
7.  Fan Fan (CN), Yong He (CN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN)
8.  Toshi Arai (Japan), Tony Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza, Arai Motorsports (Japan)
9.  Katsu Taguchi (JPN) ,. Mark Taguchi (AUS), MRF Tyres (India)
10. Karamjit Singh (MAL), Jagdev Singh (MAL), Proton PERT, PERT / MEM (MAL)
11. Julien Lenglet (F-VAN), Karin Galinie (F-VAN), M Rally Team, Honda Integra

Round Up Briefs

Karamjit Singh for New Caledonia?
The MEM team container with Karamjit Singhs Proton Rally car was being loaded onto a ship bound for New Caledonia on Friday..........

Mighty MOTU
Hella International Rally of Rotorua (17-19 June) will run the Motu Road as one complete stage - Mighty Motu. - widely regarded as the worlds most challenging rally stage. The Motu Road gorge in the Eastern Bay of Plenty is to be run as one special stage totalling 47.38 demanding kilometres of competitive driving as part of round 3 of the 2005 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Press Release [04MAY05]: Rally of Canberra Results
Following receipt of information from the FIA Technical Department in relation to the front differentials of the first three finishers, the Stewards of the Rally of Canberra (Round 1 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship). reconvened by teleconference today. The Stewards declared the results as published to be FINAL. This decision was handed down at 1pm on the 4th May 2005.

Subaru Rally of Canberra
Vilamaki wins Canberra


Jussi Valimaki
Finland's Jussi Valimaki won the opening round of the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship - The Rally of Canberra, run over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of May. Initially Japan's Toshi Arai took the APRC win in his Sanden Subaru but he was later excluded for a technical infringement, promoting Valimaki in his MRF Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 to first place.

It was the first APRC event for the very experienced Jussi Valimaki and he joins Katsu Taguchi in the MRF Mitsubishi team for a full APRC campaign. 'Fast Jussi' (his nick-name) instantly impressed with his speed and professional approach. Valimaki started out relatively conservatively, while he learnt about the tyres, the team and the car, but even then was not far off the APRC pace-setter Japanese driver Toshi Arai.

Like most competitors the Finn lost time in the first set of stages with dust and early morning sun that made visibility almost impossible, but on the SS4 and SS5 he began to eat into Arai's advantage and by the final stage of Leg 1 had fought his way into the lead - a mere 1.5 seconds.

On the first stage of the second day, a determined Arai snatched the lead back again, but when the Subaru suffered a puncture on the long Mine-shaft stage it looked like he might have to settle for second again. However Valimaki had problems of his own, first hitting a log dragged onto the road by a fellow competitor and driving the rest of stages before mid-day service with bent steering and then in the afternoon the MRF Mitsubishi lost 4th gear. Arai therefore held onto his lead eventually finishing 19 seconds head of the Finn, but post-event scrutineering changed all that, Arai excluded from the results and Valimaki promoted to 1st APRC competitor. At the finish Valimaki was happy, "This was a good first rally with a new team, new car and new tyres and I'm very happy with the result. I am sure with some more time we can get faster - it's the biggest win of my career"

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's filled the top four positions with second going to New Zealander Geof Argyle, with team-mate Brian Green 3rd and followed by fellow kiwi Dermott Malley 4th.

For Kiwi Geof Argyle in the Silverstone Tyres Mitsubishi, second place was a great start to his third APRC campaign. Argyle suffered badly in the early morning dust of day 1 and lost further time with a puncture after hitting a rock. At the start of the 2nd leg Argyle made a decision to settle for 3rd place points and then was promoted to 2nd with Arai's exclusion. "The gap was too big to the next competitor, it wasn't worth risking the car today, I kept a conservative pace to save our gear which means we won't have much work to do before the next event ". Argyle is looking forward to defending his title at the next event the Rally of New Caledonia - an event he won last year.

Argyle's team-mate Brian Green in another Mitsubishi was 3rd APRC competitor after a trouble-free run,"Apart from dust it was a good weekend.
Katsu Taguchi
Everything feels quite good, even though it took a while to get used to the new gearbox, but I'm now on top of that and we've been able to have a great time.". Green and co-driver Fleur Pederson have a busy schedule of events in the next few weeks, with a national rally in New Zealand followed by a Malaysian Rally Championship round - Green is the reigning Malaysian championship.

Dermott Malley, another kiwi took 4th position points at APRC Canberra. Malley was enjoying driving his new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, "It is such a beautiful car to drive - I love it!!'

The final APRC finisher was Mitsuhiro Kunisawa, the WRC TV commentator from Japan and having his real taste of rallying "TV commentary is much easier than driving rally cars!!' Kunisawa said after two days of rallying.

APRC points after Canberra Valimaki leading with 16 points, Argyle 12. Green 8, Malley 5, Kunisawa 4.

The one major causality of the event was Japanese driver Katsu Taguchi. His event ended on the 2nd stage - dust and blinding sun-strike had Taguchi off the road. At the end of the stage Taguchi and co-driver Mark Stacey realized that the damage was terminal and with a large log protruding from the radiator the team decided to withdraw from the leg and repair the car. Taguchi elected to start leg 2 under the APRC SupeRally regulations, but retired for the second time after taking a jump at full-speed and a very heavy landing that resulted in both he and Stacey being taken to hospital for observation. Both have since been released unhurt.

1. C Crocker (AUS) / D Moscatt (AUS), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, 2:55:41.9
2. D Herridge (AUS) / B Hayes (AUS), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, 2:56:10.8, +28.9secs
3. J Kangas (FIN) / J Rabbett (GB), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, 2:57:54.4, +2:12.5
4. J Valimaki (FIN) / J Kalliolepo (FIN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 2:58:15.0, +2:33.1
5. S Pedder (AUS)/G Weston (AUS), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 3:02:08.0, +6:26.1
6. G Argyle (NZ) / J Sinclair (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 3:02.32.0, +6:50.1
7. B. Green (NZ) / F. Pederson(NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 3:13.33.8, +16.51.9
8. D Malley(NZ) / S. Smith (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 3:19.17.01

RED = APRC competitors

Subaru Rally of Canberra (Day 1)

Jussi Valimaki - start
Finnish driver Jussi Valimaki (MRF Mitsubishi) overtook Toshihiro Arai (Sanden Subaru) on the final two stages to finish third outright and also claim the points as the leading driver in the Asia Pacific Championship. He ended just 1.8 seconds in front of Arai. "We've had a very good afternoon. Our goal was to catch Arai. We've been on maximum attack."

Arai suffered mechanical problems for most of the day. He was unhappy with the set-up of his car and is hoping to diagnose the problem overnight. "I have been putting in maximum effort, but my times are just not good enough. We are looking at a number of areas where there could be a problem - tomorrow I push hard", said Arai at end of day service.

Kiwi Geoffrey Argyle (Silverstone Tyres Mitsubishi) had a mixed day, but ended up 3rd APRC competitor. "A lot of positives today," said Argyle at the end of the first day. "We are on the pace - inside that 1-second a kilometre mark, which is hard when you are chasing local guys who are specialists on roads like this."

"We punctured when we hit a large rock in the road - and we weren't the only ones, but we probably got away the lightest, losing about 30 seconds. But we've still got a comfortable class placing and if the weather helps clear the dust then tomorrow will be a different day."

Brian Green, second car in the Silverstone Tyres Rally Team had a very pleasing day, as he came to grips with the new 'dog' style gearbox the two cars are using.

"I'm very pleased with the car, it ran grouse - thanks to the crew. But it all worked well and I was a lot happier once we had the 3-minute start gap, conditions were so much easier to drive in."

Japanese driver Katsu Taguchi was the only APRC driver to retire today - a causality of the early morning dust. "We went wide on a corner in SS2 and hit a bank, but carried onto the end of the stage. At the re-fuel point we noticed a log sticking out of the radiator and then the engine would not re-start. That's its - we retire today but re-start tomorrow".

Katsu Taguchi
Teams face a further 60 competitive kilometres over ten stages in the forests around the national capital tomorrow.

Unofficial results - Leg One

1. Crocker/Moscatt, Subaru, Total time: 1:27:03.8
2. Herridge/Hayes, Subaru, Total time: 1:27:13.0
3. Valimaki/Kalliolepo, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:28:01.5
4. Arai/Sircombe, Subaru, Total time: 1:28:03.3

5. Kangas/Rabbett, Subaru, Total time: 1:28:17.3
6. Goldsbrough/Humm, Subaru, Total time: 1:30:13.6
7. Argyle/Marra, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:30:23.7
8. Pedder/Weston, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:32:45.4
9. Masumura/Yayanagi, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:34:34.6
10. Hills/Callaghan, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:34:35.8
11. Green/Pederson, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:36:16.6
12. Malley/Smith, Mitsubishi, Total time: 1:37:06.4

RED = APRC competitors

Subaru Rally of Canberra Event Profile

Available here for download is an event profile (PDF Document) for the Subaru Rally of Canberra that is to take place from 23-25 April. This is the first of a series of profiles that will be published prior to event of the Rounds of the 2005 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Entries for APRC 2005 - Arai enters APRC

Eight drivers have so far registered for the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship with further entries expected by New Caledonia.

Toshi Arai
The big news is the entry into the championship by Japanese driver Toshi Arai in his Sanden Subaru Impreza. Arai currently leads the Production Car World Rally Championship and in current form will be hard to beat although due to other commitments he cannot compete at all rounds.

The MRF team return with Katsu Taguchi in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 and after winning China and 2nd overall in the 2004 championship, Taguchi will be top contender for the title. Taguchi's team-mate will be Finnish driver Jussi Valimaki, nicked named 'FastJussi', a former test driver for Hyundai and very experienced in European events. It will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to new roads and conditions.

Jussi Valimaki
New Zealander Geof Argyle returns with the Silverstone Tyres team and is joined by Brian Green. Both drivers will run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's. Kiwi Dermott Malley is running his own team this year and has Argyles co-driver from 2004 Steve Smith sitting alongside him.

Chinese driver Fan Fan, who had a successful run in India last year enters the championship. His team-mate will be Malaysia Chee Hong Kan and both drivers will run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's. Due to a conflicting event in China, Fan Fan and the Wan Yu Rally team will not be at Canberra and will begin their campaign at New Caledonia.

And where is Karamjit Singh?? Expect an entry for Rally of New Caledonia along with several other surprises.......

Registered drivers in the APRC 2005 - Entries close May 15.

1. Geof Argyle (NZ) , Jeremy Sinclair, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ)
2 Chee Hong Kan (MAL), Bernard U-Min Chin (MAL), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN)
3 Fan Fan (CN), Yong He (CN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN)
4 Dermott Malley (NZ), Stephen Andrew Smith (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, M Rally Team (NZ)
5 Toshi Arai (Japan), Tony Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza, Arai Motorsports (Japan)
6. Katsu Taguchi (JPN) ,. Mark Taguchi (AUS), MRF Tyres (India)
7. Jussi Valimaki (FIN) , Jarkko Kalliolepo (FIN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, MRF Tyres (India)
8. Brian Green, Fleur Pederson, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ)

Atkinson joins Sarrazin and Solberg at SWRT

Chris Atkinson
Australia's brightest rally star Chris Atkinson will join the Subaru World Rally Team for the 2005 season.

The 25 year-old will contest the majority of the 16 rallies that make up the FIA world championship series. Alongside the Subaru team's other drivers, Petter Solberg and Stéphane Sarrazin, Atkinson will be looking to build on his impressive Group N and Super 1600 credentials and rise to the challenge of top-level rallying.

"With Chris, Petter and Stéphane I believe we've got the most dynamic and exciting driver line-up of any WRC team," said team principal David Lapworth. "I've been most impressed with what Chris has achieved this year. I believe his performance in Australia, where he set fastest stage times and beat drivers with far more experience, is a strong indication of his potential. Now Chris has a great opportunity to show us what he can do.

"Chris and Stéphane make a very balanced pairing. Chris has demonstrated his impressive pace on gravel but hasn't yet had the opportunity to show what he can do on tarmac, while for Stéphane the opposite is true. I'm confident though that both drivers have what it takes to be competitive across the board. Of course it's a high-risk strategy, but it's a fundamental part of Subaru's driver development philosophy. Our objective is to find another Subaru world champion and we'll do all we can to help Chris and Stephane reach that goal."

The announcement comes at the end of a highly successful year for Atkinson, during which he was the dominant driver in the Australian Rally Championship, winning three of the six rounds. However his success wasn't limited to the Australian shores as he successfully defended his Asia Pacific Super 1600 title and showed exceptional pace on rounds of the world championship in New Zealand, Finland and Japan. In November, Atkinson finished his year on a high by winning the Group N category and finishing fifth overall on his first attempt at Rally Australia - the highest finish by a Group N entrant in the 17-year history of the event.

"It's a fantastic chance to take a big step forward with Subaru," said Atkinson. "And to do so with team-mates like Petter and Stéphane makes it even more valuable. I've a huge amount to learn but with Stéphane's history on asphalt, and Petter's all round experience you couldn't wish for better people to learn from. My aim has always been to reach beyond the national championships and to make it on the world stage. It's been extremely hard work but now I've got the chance. I guess I'm out to prove that an Australian can be fast in Australia and fast in the rest of the world too."

Subaru manufacturer principal, Toshiya Azuma said: "I'm very happy to welcome Chris to our team. In common with Stéphane, Chris chose to start his rally career with the Impreza, and after such a successful 2004 it's great to be able to reward his efforts by giving him the opportunity to drive with us. I believe we have an excellent driver line-up for next year, one that combines Petter's World Champion experience, with the very best in fresh talent. It's going to be a very exciting season."

World stage beckons for Subaru driver Atkinson

Chris Atkinson - WRC - Rally NZ
The announcement of Chris Atkinson's elevation to the elite World Rally Championship has been greeted with excitement at Subaru Australia, which has supported the young Queenslander's ambitions during 2004.

Atkinson's valiant campaign in the 2004 Australian Rally Championship was backed by Subaru Australia as the 25 year-old impressed fans with his outstanding driving skills in his Prodrive-built Impreza WRX STi, under the Atkinson Racing banner.

Nick Senior, General Manager, Subaru Australia, said: "This clearly sends a very strong message to anyone in rallying.

"If you are talented enough, dedicated enough and 100% focused, there is a career path for you.

"Chris has achieved his dream in just four short years. He has been based on the Gold Coast all that time proving you don't have to go overseas to establish yourself. That is a credit to our rallying system - it has produced the strongest national championship in the world and for Chris to graduate from that should give everyone involved in the sport a big boost. "

Senior added: "Chris has demonstrated that along with the ARC, you have got to be prepared to showcase your talents in international WRC events like Telstra Rally Australia, Rally New Zealand and Asia-Pacific events like the Subaru Rally of Canberra.

"We are ecstatic that Chris will make the transition from driving a Subaru Impreza on the Australian stage to driving a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car on the international stage. It is a great moment for Chris and for Subaru and its customers in this country, many of whom are very keen rally fans.

"Now motor sport enthusiasts have a lot of sleepless nights next year - Mark Webber in F1 and Chris Atkinson in the World Rally Championship.

"This is the opportunity to really establish rallying in this country. It is the biggest boost this sport has ever received. There will be the weight of a nation on Chris' shoulders but he is a sensible, smart and mature guy who can handle the pressure. And's he's damn quick as well."

Australia is Subaru's third biggest market in the world behind the Japanese domestic market and the United States. This year Subaru will sell 33,500 vehicles in Australia and will have a market share of approximately 3.5%. This is the best of any major market in the world.

Subaru has won the last nine Australian Rally Championships and seven of the last eight manufacturer championships.

It has the strongest rally programme of any of the Subaru distributors worldwide and the most innovative, highlighted by the inaugural Subaru Rally Challenge this year, featuring Impreza RS' in a one-make series.

David Rowley
National Corporate Affairs Manager
Subaru Australia