2006 Archive

APRC Television and Internet
The APRC was broadcast in 118 countries, by 74 broadcasters and seen by 85.5 million persons. .

Coverage of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship is available as on-demand streaming video on the www.Rally-Live.com website. Video download is subscription based and APRC coverage can be viewed within the followimng Rally World episodes:

* Round 1: Rally of Canberra: Rally World #2
* Round 2: Rally Nouvelle Caledonie: Rally World #6
* Round 3: Rotorua Preview : Rally World #12
* Round 3: Rotorua full coverage : Rally World #13
* Round 4: Preview Hokkaido: Rally World #20
* Round 4: Hokkaido Full Coverage: Rally World #21
* Round 5: Malaysia Preview: Rally World #23
* Round 5: Malaysia Full Coverage: Rally World #24
* Round 6: Indonesia Preview: Rally World #26
* Round 6: Indonesia Full Coverage: Rally World #27
* Round 7: China Rally - Brief results Rally World #35
* Season Wrap - Rally World Episode #36

Cody Crocker
2006 APRC Drivers Champion

Ben Atkinson
2006 APRC Co-drivers Champion

Subaru - Manufacturers award

Australian Cody Crocker wins China Rally

Cody Crocker & Ben Atkinson
China Rally was definitely one of the toughest events of the year but Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker showed why he is the 2006 Asia-Pacific Rally Champion, winning his sixth event of the season. Behind the Australian came Hiroshi Yanagisawa in the CUSCO Subaru and securing enough points to take second place in the championship race ahead of Mitsubishi's Katsu Taguchi who did not finish this event and scored no points. Indonesian Rifat Sungkar battled his way through the conditions to finish 3rd in APRC and score his 3rd podium finish of the season. The only other finisher in APRC was Brian Green who finished 4th.

Only four finishers in APRC was a reflection of the very tough conditions that faced the cars and drivers in this event that was held in the beautiful countryside around Longyou. The twisty mountain roads were made extremely treacherous by several weeks of rain prior to and during the rally - and after several passes the roads became muddy and rutted.

Cody Crocker
For Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson the slippery conditions were just another challenge "This was defintely the toughest event in the APRC this year, but they're all a challenge for various reasons. The roads were a quagmire here, absolutely diabolical, but we stayed clean the whole way and got the points," Crocker said. "This championship is second in standing only to the World Championship, so it means a lot to the whole team to win it. Full credit to Les Walkden and the team. He gave Ben and me this opportunity, and his team has produced a brilliant car. We go to Monte Carlo to collect the title at the official FIA dinner Friday week, so that will be a big thrill to be there with all the other world and regional champions from all forms of Motorsport."

For Yanagisawa his 2nd place was the result of determination and clean driving "The Cusco team and I have learnt so much from our year in APRC. Every country is so different and although I have competed in China Rally two times, this was the most difficult" said Yanagisawa at the last service. Rifat Sungkar was equally pleased with a great finish on his first attempt at the Asia Pacific series "We expected for the first year we could get 6th or 7th place, but its fantastic I have finished three times on the podium and 4th overall in the championship - next year I want to return and improve my driving further".

Top Three teams
The event was disaster for the MRF Mitsubishi team loosing Katsu Taguchi early on SS3 after loosing a wheel. Jarkko Miettinen was in third position going into the final day when he had gearbox problems and retired. Taguchi started the 2nd leg to gain bonus points, but then he too went out with gearbox problems on the very last stage. By not finishing the event the Japanese driver lost his 2nd position in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, over-taken by his countryman Yanagisawa. Dermott Malley retired with mechanical problems on the 2nd day, Eli Evans was a victim of the mud and slippery conditions when he slid off the road on the final day. The APRC's Chinese competitor Fan Fan retired on the Superspecial after rolling his Mitsubishi - in front of a very large home crowd.

In the overall event Crocker was 1st, followed by New Zealander Richard Mason who won the Chinese Rally Championship catergory in a GT-Tires Subaru. Yanigisawa was 3rd overall and the first Chinese competitor Caodong Liu was 4th also in a Subaru.

The Asia Pacific Rally Championshp will resume on April 15th, 2007 with the first event held on the beautiful Pacific Island of New Caledonia.

APRC Results for 2006 China Rally
1 C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI,
2 H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +08.23.9
3. R Sungkar (Ind), A Mohamad (Ind), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9, +20.27.7
4. B Green (NZ), F Pedersen(NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9, +20.27.7

Wet and Wild in China

Cody Crocker
Heavy rain, thunder and lightning made conditions difficult for the drivers in the international China Rally on the 2nd day. Cody Crocker the 2006 APRC Drivers champion continues to lead the event with 2 minute and 16 second lead over Japan's Hiroshi Yanagisawa. Both Subaru drivers drove faultlessly in the atrocious conditions that reduced the high mountain roads to treacherous mud tracks.

The 35-year-old Crocker was delighted he and co-driver Ben Atkinson had safely negotiated the difficult conditions. "So far so good," said Crocker at the service park at the end of the day. "It was really extreme out there, but I managed to have fun, pushing hard but keeping clean lines and not taking any risks. We've got a handy buffer over the field and we'd really like to finish the season on a high tomorrow. Six more stages, and one of those is done three times, so it will be diabolical by the end. There are plenty of challenges left but we're working on getting to the finish line in first place."

Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Finland's Jarkko Miettinen is third in APRC and pushing to the limit, but delayed by two punctures and a high speed spin. Eli Evans is 4th, driving well in the conditions, but slowed by suspension damage on stage 7. Indonesian Rifat Sungkar is 5th in APRC finding the muddy conditions more difficult than expected and not helped by not having the right tyres for the mud. Brian Green has had a variety of problems including a puncture but he is 6th in APRC and the last remaining APRC competitor.

Behind the APRC field the Chinese championship has seen a number of leaders and a trial of attrition. Leading after Leg 1 is UK driver David Higgins.

Results - Rally China - End Leg One (Provisional only)
1 *C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1:50:52.3
2 *H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2 mins 16.9
secs 3 D Higgins, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:02.0
4 *J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:16.3
5 *E Evans (Aus), M McAdam (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3:42.0
6 K Kamada, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +4:03.4
* = APRC registered competitors

Crocker takes early lead in China

Crocker & Atkins
Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker has won the drivers title in the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. All the Australian had to do was cross the start-line at China Rally to take the title, but to to prove he's a real racer Crocker displayed his dominant form by leading after two stages were completed on the first day.

Crocker has a comfortable lead, ahead of two Finnish drivers Juha Salo and APRC registered competitor, Jarkko Miettinen in a MRF Mitsubishi. Crocker competed in China a number of times last year, and despite the wet and muddy conditions experienced at this event, is sure the experience will be of advantage.

"The rally in Beijing we did last year was like this one - very tight and twisty with lots of hairpins," Crocker said. "We won there so we're hoping
Miettinen & Evans
to repeat that performance here. There has been a lot of rain so the stages are already very muddy. They have a clay base which means the more passes over them the worse they get. Some are done four times so it is just going to be really bad by then.Being first on the road probably helped today, but once the first pass of any stage is done any advantage will be gone."

Two of the APRC drivers had smashed windscreens after the stage one super-special - Katsu Taguchi who was paired with Crocker and Hiroshi Yanigisawa who was racing Rifat Sungkar. Both Japanese drivers took heavy hits from baseball sized rocks flung out by the cars in front. However their problems were minor compared to Chinese driver Fan Fan who rolled on the super-special in front a huge local crowd. The Wan Yu Rally team decided to with-draw the car and repair it for a re-start on Monday's final day.

Results - End day one, 2006 Rally China (Provisional)
1 *C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 15:04.5
1.  J Salo (F), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 15:13.5
3 *J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 15:17.9
4 *K Taguchi (J), M Stacey (Aus), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4 mins 41 secs
5  K Kamada, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 15:23.4
6 *E Evans (Aus), C Murphy (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 15:32.4
7 *H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 15:35.2
8  M Rowe, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 15:35.5
(* = APRC Entries)

Finish with a win - China Rally Preview

Fan Fan flies (Shakedown)
The seventh and final round of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship is the China Rally held in Longyou, five hours south-west of Shanghai. The area is known for its beauty and ancient history, but in late November the weather is not being kind to the event and a mixture of drizzle and mist is covering the region - and likely to stay until Monday when the event finishes.

China Rally should see Australian Cody Crocker crowned the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Champion drivers champion as all the LWR Subaru driver needs to do is cross the start-line, he has amassed an unbeatable total of points, 68 out of possible 70, and with 5 straight wins. Japan's Katsu Taguchi is second in the series and looks comfortable in 2nd with an 11 point lead over third place Yanigisawa. The real fight at China will be for third - Yanagisawa has 33 points, followed by Sungkar 31 and Miettinen 30. Lined up behind is Australia's Eli Evans, Fan Fan from China, Kiwi's Brian Green and Dermott Malley. Behind APRC comes the Chinese Rally Championship with a bunch of foreign drivers including Ketomaa Jari, Juha Salo, David Higgins, Takuma Kamada, Martin Rowe and Richard Mason.

Cow power in Longyou
All drivers have commented on the tightness of the roads ' Very twisty and many 1st gear corners" Said Katsu Taguchi at shakedown "sometimes the road is so tight and narrow through the villages - you cannot make any mistake. The road condition is very good, but after 4 passes through the stages its definitely going to be rough. I think all the APRC drivers will be going flat out - nothing to loose and we all want to finish with a win!!".

The event starts Saturday (Nov 25th) with a super-special and a 15 kilometre stage near-by, with the real action Sunday and Monday. After a total 233 kilometres of competitive stages, the winner will take the podium back at Longyou City at 16.30 Monday afternoon.

Dates for 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship

At its October meeting, the FIA World Motor Sport Council (and the FIA General Assembly), approved the following
event calendar for APRC 2007.

Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie (F)13-15 April
Rally of Whangarei (NZ)11-13 May
Rally of Canberra (AUS)1-3 June
Rally Hokkaido (J)6-8 July
Malaysian Rally (MAL)10-12 August
Rally of Indonesia (RI)7-9 September
China Rally (CN)23-25 November       
The 2007 APRC kicks off in New Caledonia
Photo by WRP/Seiki

Rally of Thailand will be first reserve event, subject to FIA observation of its 2006 event in November.

The NZ round moves North - LINEAR Photo
Registered teams will be required to nominate 6 of the 7 events on the calendar, as in 2006. Changes include Rally of New Caledonia being the first event on the 2007 Calendar and a new region for the New Zealand round, based north of Auckland in the city of Whangarei and using the very fast roads previously part of the WRC Rally of New Zealand.

Interest in the championship is already very high with a number of enquires from European and S2000 teams, a 4 car team from New Caledonia and a team of Ford Fiesta's planning to run in the N3 class.

Fleet of Ford Fiesta's for 2007

APRC Rally of Rotorua - Photo: Euan Cameron
Up to six Ford Fiesta ST's could be running on the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

After a very promising trial run in 2006, when New Zealander Mark Tapper ran as high as 3rd in the APRC class at Rally of Rotorua, Neil Allport of Namsport sees a bright future for the Fiesta ST's in the APRC. "The APRC is an ideal way to gain experience at an international level, 7 countries that have a wide variety of surfaces, cultures and climates. The Ford Fiesta's have been developed by M-Sport, easy to drive, very strong and above all - cost effective, half the cost of a four-wheel drive Group N car. We're planning to run 4-6 Fiesta's as one team with everyone enjoying the benefits of a combined arrive and drive package that includes everything from hotels, recce car, mechanics and media promotion".

APRC Rally of Indonesia - LINEAR Photo
Subaru WRC driver Chris Atkinson proved that a couple of years spent on the Asia Pacific Rally Championship driving smaller 2WD cars can lead to the World Championship. A few months after the 2004 APRC China Rally the young Australian was at the wheel of a Subaru World Rally car after landing a drive in the 2005 World Rally Championship. Atkinson has just been re-signed for a 3rd year in the SWR team.

Further information on the APRC Ford Fiesta ST package visit: http://www.namsport.co.nz/

Rally World TV Series

Coverage of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship is screened worldwide on the Rally World TV series and available in the countries listed below. In addition Rally World is available as on-demand streaming video on the www.Rally-Live.com website (video download is subscription based).

The following episodes contain APRC programming:

* Round 1: Rally of Canberra: Rally World #2
* Round 2: Rally Nouvelle Caledonie: Rally World #6
* Round 3: Rotorua Preview : Rally World #12
* Round 3: Rotorua full coverage : Rally World #13
* Round 4: Preview Hokkaido: Rally World #20 (18th August)
* Round 4: Hokkaido Full Coverage: Rally World #21 (25th August)
* Round 5: Malaysia Preview: Rally World #23 (9th September)
* Round 5: Malaysia Full Coverage: Rally World #24 (16th September)
* Round 6: Indonesia Preview: Rally World #26 (30 September)
* Round 6: Indonesia Full Coverage: Rally World #27 (7 October)

Crocker wins after tight and hot fight in Indonesia
20SEP06: Story and Photos by Brian Young

Cody Crocker
Provided he crosses the start ramp in November's Rally of China, Australia's Cody Crocker is the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Champion. After the 6th round the Gudan Garam Rally of Indonesia Crocker now has an unassailable points lead with 68 points out of a possible 70 after winning all five APRC events he has entered in.

The 2006 Rally of Indonesia was the best battle of the series - at one point the three top drivers were separated by only 1 second and there was several occasions where there were identical times.

Held on the island of Sulawesi and based in the ancient port city of Makassar the Rally of Indonesia is one of the toughest events in world rallying with ambient temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, thick dust that makes breathing and visibility difficult and roads that are soft, slippery and often rough. Prior to the event Crocker only needed 8 points to secure the title while his closest rival, MRF Mitsubishi driver Katsu Taguchi needed to win - and Crocker not finish, to have any chance of taking the title. Ten APRC teams entered Rally of Indonesia, joined for this event by current P-WRC champion Toshi Arai in the Motor Image Subaru.

Jarkko Miettinen
(Photo: Alan MacDonald)
After the ceremonial start in down-town Makassar it was Finland's Jarkko Miettinen who set the early pace winning the first stage by 2 seconds from Crocker, with Taguchi and Arai 6 seconds further back and third equal. The only two wheel drive car in the APRC field, New Zealander Mark Tapper in the Ford Fiesta crashed out on Stage 1. "I had a caution in the notes for a jump and maybe hit the brakes a little too hard and we nose dived on landing and broke the radiator. It's the second time this year I have had slowed down and still got caught out" said Tapper back at service.

Up front the battle raged on Miettinen and Crocker tied for 1st on the second stage both on 14 minutes and 50 seconds, while Arai edged ahead of Taguchi by 8 seconds. In 5th place and 22 seconds behind the leader was Japan's Hiroshi Yanagisawa driving for the CUSCO Subaru team and for this event only, a new co-driver, the very experienced Yoshimara Nakahara. Crocker's team-mate Eli Evans retired at the end of stage 2 with a broken gear-box, "we broke a selector and then grabbed two gears - we're out" said a dejected Evans.

Subhan Aksa
On stage 3 it was Crocker's turn to set the pace going 4 seconds quicker than Miettinen and taking the lead by 2 seconds. Arai and Taguchi continued to fight - again setting identical times. Young Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa (who's family business own the Rally HQ hotel) came out of the stage struggling to find gears and loosing over 5 minutes and dropping him to 17th overall and last place in APRC.

After the first service break, it was Arai who came out firing going 7 seconds quicker than Crocker and moving to within 6 seconds of the lead. Another fastest time on the 5th stage moved Arai into equal first place with Crocker, with Miettinen only 1 second back in third.

Katsu Taguchi
Katsu Taguchi dropped to 6th place after a puncture near the start of Stage 5 that meant stopping and replacing the tyre in the stage, loosing the Japanese driver over three minutes. Any chance of taking the APRC drivers title were effectively over for Taguchi, "Its OK to have a puncture 5 K from the finish, but when its near the start that's bad luck - we had to stop and change the tyre, then we waited for Jarkko to come and then followed in his dust and now because of that loss of time, the championship is over, but we will continue to push hard, anything can happen" said a disappointed Taguchi back at mid-day service.

Yanagisawa had moved into 4th overall / 3rd in APRC and 1 minute and 20 seconds off the lead. Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar was having handling problems and was 4th in APRC, but not sure he could hold off the recovering Taguchi. Fan Fan from China was 7th of the APRC drivers in the Wan Yu Rally Team Mitsubishi. Subhan Aksa gearbox problems continued but he'd climbed up the leader-board to 12th overall, but 15 minutes behind the leaders and 9th in APRC.

Hiroshi Yanagisawa
The afternoon stages were repeats of the morning stages and while most of the roads held up to a second passage there were plenty of big rocks on the roads to avoid. The skies were clear and the sun heating up with vengeance - the temperature was sitting at 40-41 degrees C in the shade!!

On the 6th stage Arai went into the overall lead by 11 seconds, while Miettinen went 1 second quicker than Crocker, the Australian and Finn now equal 1st in APRC . Indonesia was turning into one of the best battles in APRC for several years.

Then on Stage 7 near disaster for Crocker, the engine start overheating from a blocked radiator and air-cleaner, forcing the early leader to slow dramatically. Mean-while Miettinen won the stage to lead APRC and Crocker by 35 seconds, while reducing the deficit to Arai to 10 seconds who still led overall. In the final stage of the day Crocker's problems were cured and he pulled back 1 second on Miettinen, but for the first time this year Crocker was not leading at the end of a leg.

Cody Crocker
"It was a bit frustrating this afternoon when we had the issue caused by the dirt, but it just goes to show how quickly things can change in a day's rallying," Crocker said. "Frustrating, but not disastrous and we still picked up some valuable points. Second time over the stages this afternoon the roads were super soft and we were scooping up dirt. We were over-heating and losing power across stages six and seven. It was only after the second afternoon stage that we realised it was the air-intake that was blocked and when we cleaned that out we were right back on the pace."

For Jarkko Miettinen this was a moment to savoir, leading APRC and with 3 overall stage wins for the day, but he was aware that things would be different on the second leg, "We are very happy to be leading APRC, the roads suited us today and we could push really hard with no mistakes. However tomorrow could be difficult as the roads are tight and twisty". Winning the leg netted the Finn three valuable bonus points for the drivers championship.

Japan's Yanagisawa was third in APRC, not pushing or taking risks and intend on finishing. Countryman Taguchi had hauled himself back to 4th in APRC, but was 1 min and 37 seconds behind Yanagisawa so a podium finish was out of the question unless those in front hit trouble. Rifat Sungkar had not had a good day with several car problems including the loss of turbo power on SS6 and some handling defects in the morning stages. He was however in a safe 5th position in APRC. Fellow countryman Subhan Aksa was 6th and a long way back, but at least he'd had his gearbox problems resolved and by the afternoon stages was setting respectable times. Both cars from Wan Yu Rally team retired at the end of the leg. Fan Fan had a slow roll on Stage 8 and the damage could not be repaired in time, while kiwi team-mate Brian Green retired with gearbox problems.

Motor Image Team
Day 2 was in valley near the town of Billi Billi and for the first time this year Crocker was not first car on the road, that position taken by APRC leader Miettinen in the MRF Mitsubishi. And while he didn't need to win the event to secure the championship, the Australian was fired up and in the first stage of the leg SS9, reduced the 35 seconds deficit by 13 seconds. On SS10 the LWR Subaru driver took another 12 seconds off Miettinen - the deficit now only 10 seconds. Crocker took the lead back on the third stage of the day and went to the morning service with a 2 second lead in APRC. Overall Arai was still leading by 55 seconds in the Motor Image Subaru.

Miettinen was having niggling problems and the tighter roads didn't suit the Finn's flat-out driving style or the Mitsubishi. There was still plenty to go for in the final two afternoon stages but on Stage 12 Miettinen hit a small rock, bending the suspension and with very high temperatures inside and outside the car, the team backed off to preserve their second place and handed the win to Crocker.

Arai rushes to plane
At the final control an ecstatic Crocker paid tribute to his team " Its been an amazing weekend, its been so close and when we lost the time yesterday I honestly didn't think we'd get the lead back. I think there's going to be a big team celebration tonight because this had been real team effort - they have worked hard to provide a car that is perfect to drive and so much effort through the year went into that".

The overall event was won by Toshi Arai driving the Motor Image Subaru by 52 seconds. His first event with the Motor Image rally team had been a huge success and hopefully he will return full-time to the APRC in 2007 with the same team. Immediately after the podium and champagne, Arai and co-driver Tony Sircombe rushed to a waiting car and with a police escort, drove straight to the airport where a plane was waiting to take them to the next round of the P-WRC Rally of Cyprus.

Rifat Sungkar
The final APRC podium position was taken by Yanagisawa after a calculated drive and one that he was just happy to get to the finish and gain more experience of the Asian conditions. Taguchi's troubles continued with an over-heating engine that forced him to back off on the final stages, but he held onto his 4th position. "For me this has been a very tough event, the temperature was hot, but not as much as last year, yet we had so many silly problems and very frustrating to get a puncture when we were in such a good position. The car is good and next event we gonna go for it -nothing to loose". Miettinen had similar thoughts, "We're so close to winning now and with the next event in China this will give us a real opportunity - I am doing the Chinese National Championship so I am very familiar with the conditions".

Indonesia APRC entrants Sungkar and Aksa had solid performances but perhaps not the results they were hoping for considering their experience of the event and conditions. This was Aksa's last event on the APRC and hopefully he will return next year to consolidate his experience.

In the points battle Crocker has won the drivers championship (providing he starts in China) and Subaru also has sufficient points to take the manufacturers championship - even if they don't score a single point in China. The remaining positions for the drivers championship podium will be settled in China with Taguchi currently 2nd on 44 points and a real fight for 3rd - Yanagisawa is on 33 points, Sungkar 31 and Miettinen 30.
Cody Crocker & Ben Atkinson

The next and final event on the APRC calendar is the China Rally based in Longyou, Zhejiang approximately 400km SW of Shanghai.
The event will take place on Sunday and Monday 26-27 November, 2006.

Final APRC Results for 2006 Rally of Indonesia (after day two):
1. Cody Crocker (Ben Atkinson) Subaru Impreza WRX (3:21.07.0)
2. Jarkko Mettinen (Mikko Makkula) Mitsubishi Evo IX (3:21:37.4)
3. Hiroshi Yanagisawa (Yoshimasa Nakahara) Subaru Impreza WRX (3:24:30.0)
4. Katsuhiko Taguchi (Mark Stacey) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX (3:28.16.9)
5. Rifat Sungkar (M. Herkusuma) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII (3:30.21.1)
6. Subhan Aksa (Hade Mboi)Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII (3:49:28.4)

Overall winner: Toshihiro Arai (Tony Sircombe) Subaru Impreza 3:20:14.9

New Caledonia announces a four car team for 2007 APRC

New Caledonia is the first country to confirm a team for the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship - and what a team! Four cars and four of the countries most experienced drivers have combined to enter as "Team New Caledonia" for the 2007 championship.

Leading the team and driving a Subaru Impreza will be 55 year old Jean-Louis Leyraud who has been rallying for 35 years and competed in Morocco, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. Leyraud has been crowned New Caledonian rally champion 10 times and competed in the 2002 APRC where he finished 4th in Group N. His international experience will be invaluable as Team New Caledonia take on the different conditions, cultures, climates and challenges of the six round series in 2007.

Mitsubishi drivers Daniel Palau (41yrs) and Patric Christian (45 yrs) are regular international competitors in New Zealand and of course New Caledonia where Palau has been New Caledonian champion 4 times and Christian is currently leading the 2006 series. At 32 years Patrick Yanai is the youngest driver in Team New Caledonia but has 14 years of rallying and is planning to drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 sponsored by Group Dang Motorsport.

All four drivers are hoping to compete in the top 5 and are of course looking forward to taking on the other international APRC competitors when they compete in their home event the 2007 APRC Rally of New Caledonia. The six countries that will host an APRC event will be finalised in October.

The heat is on....

The 6th round of 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship takes place this weekend on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Predicted to be hotter than Malaysia, but with less humidity Gudang Garam Rally of Indonesia could see the APRC drivers title wrapped up by Australian Cody Crocker in his LWR Subaru Impreza. Crocker has had an almost perfect run in his first bid for the 2006 Asia-Pacific drivers title taking 63 of the 64 points available - and winning all 4 events he's entered in the 2006 APRC.

The only other driver that has a outside chance of taking the drivers title is Katsu Taguchi from Japan with a total of 39 points - 24 behind Crocker. Over the next two events there is 32 points on offer and there are many permutations, but essentially Crocker only needs to score 8 points in Indonesia and the 2006 title is his - providing he also goes over the start ramp in China (APRC rules state you must nominate and start 6 of the 7 events in the championship). Realistically the best Taguchi can do now is win the final events for Mitsubishi and take the manufacturer's championship, a race that is still reasonably even with Subaru currently leading on 63 points and Mitsubishi 55 points.

Brian Green
Rally of Indonesia will see 10 APRC drivers competing over two days and 235 kilometres of rough, sandy stages, in conditions that are dry, dusty and extremely hot. With temperatures of 40degrees C the crews will have to manage their fluid intake as they did in Malaysia - 10-12 litres a day!!

For Crocker Indonesia is new territory, but then so were the Palm Oil Plantation roads of Malaysia Rally - and he won there by 2.5 minutes. Crocker does not need to win in Indonesia, but like any sportsmen he'd like a clean sweep of wins. Having won the Australian championship 3 times, Crockers knows what is required to win and his Les Walkden Rallying Subaru has been impeccably prepared at every event. If any driver is going to break Crocker's winning streak its likely to be Taguchi, who drove to 2nd place in Indonesia last year and therefore has some advance knowledge of the difficult conditions. Taguchi's MRF team-mate Jarkko Miettinen from Finland as been the only other driver to regularly beat Crocker on stage times in 2006 and the new Mitsubishi Lancer 9 is rapidly finding its pace as the drivers in both APRC and P-WRC learn to balance the power and handling.

Rifat Sungkar
Third in the championship and on home ground is Indonesia's Rifat Sungkar, eager to make up for the disaster in Malaysia where he wrecked his brand new Mitsubishi Lancer. Rifats younger brother Rizal will also compete in the APRC catergory in Indonesia, although he is not a registered APRC driver.

Japan's Hiroshi Yanagisawa in the CUSCO Subaru always finishes strongly and apart from a problem in New Zealand, has always finished in the top 4 and is currently 4th in the driver points. Crockers LWR team-mate Eli Evans is 5th, a remarkable result considering the young Australian had hardly set foot outside the his home country prior to May this year. Evans is however watching his back as Jarkko Miettinen climbs rapidly up the leader-board, from having no points at all going into the Japan round the MRF driver is now only 3 points away from moving into 5th place.

Subhan Aksa
Subhan Aksa from Indonesia is the youngest driver in the championship and has been getting quicker and quicker through the year. In Malaysia Aksa finished 5th overall and he will be looking to at least repeating that result, or better on his home territory. The Wan Yu Rally team from China will be in Indonesia with Fan Fan and kiwi driver Brian Green driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9s. After both drivers did not finish in the last round in Malaysia, this event will be an opportunity to restore confidence.

Two interesting entries for Indonesia are Mark Tapper in a Ford Fiesta and current P-WRC champion and Subaru driver Toshi Arai. Kiwi driver Tapper drove the front drive Fiesta brillantly at Rotorua and although APRC registered has missed two events this year and will not qualify. It will be interesting though to see if he can match the pace of the 4WD cars as he did in Rotorua - the Fiesta seemingly bullet proof and able to take the pounding it will likely get on the Indonesian roads. Arai's drive is a one-off for the Motor Image Rally team, a team owned by the South East Asia Subaru distributor. Arai will have one eye on the clock through-out the event as he leaves directly from the finish ceremony on Sunday, to fly to WRC Rally of Cyprus for the next round of the P-WRC.

The Gudang Garam Rally of Indonesia begins at 17.00 this Friday with a ceremonial start in the port city of Makassar and finishes after 2 days and 235 km of competition in the same location at 17.15 on Sunday 17 September.

Crocker takes honours in Malaysia
Sunday August 20, 2006
Story Brian Young, Photos Ross Hyde

Cody Crocker
Australian Cody Crocker in a LWR Subaru Impreza kept his perfect winning record in the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship by winning the Malaysia Rally held in Johor Baru, South Malaysia. The Malaysian event was the 5th round of the championship and one of the most physically difficult, with ambient temperatures of 35-40 degrees C and inside the rally cars temperatures often exceeded 50 degrees!! With all stages in the nearby Palm Oil plantations the road conditions varied considerably, from dry and dusty to slippery mud, with hundreds of junctions to keep the drivers and co-drivers working.

From the out-set it looked like it was going to be a great battle. As the teams arrived for the stages on Saturday morning, overnight rain had made the roads very wet and slippery and it was interesting to see the wide choice of tyres as the cars lined up for the first stage. Most were on a cut rally tyre, but Crocker and his team-mate Eli Evans opted for a conservative approach and used a standard rally tyre, while the MRF Mitsubishi’s showed up with full muds!!

It only took 4 kilometres of rallying for the dramas to start - Fan Fan from China on mud tyres and seeded number 7, crashed and blocked the road on Stage 1. Starting behind him were Subhan Aksa (Indonesia), Jarkko Miettinen (Finland) and Brian Green (New Zealand). These three drivers were forced to stop and were later given accessed times from their finish position on Stage 2. For Miettinen who had a turbo problem on stage 2 his assessed time was a lot slower than it should have been and put him a full 1 minute 18 seconds behind the rally leader. The only consolation was that the leader was his team-mate Taguchi – mud tyres for these stages were the right choice.

Hiroshi Yanagisawa
With plenty of previous experience in Malaysia, Taguchi had absolutely blitzed the field on the 28 kilometre stage 1, going a full 27 seconds faster than Crocker(2nd), 52 seconds quicker than Evans(3rd) and over a minute clear of Yanagisawa. In stage 2 Taguchi went fastest again to lead the event at the first service break by 33 seconds from Crocker. The battle for third was very tight with three drivers separated by 8 seconds - 3rd held by Evans 1 minute and 26 seconds behind leader Taguchi , Yangisawa 2 seconds back and 4th, while Miettinen was 5th and 1.32 behind his team-mate.

Stage 3 saw the lead change and one of the championship contenders crash. Taguchi again starting on mud tyres punctured 4 kilometers into the 28 km stage and was forced to stop and change mid-stage, loosing nearly 4 minutes to Crocker and dropping down the order to 6th in APRC. The Japanese driver was bitterly disappointed but happy to be still in the event, unlike fellow Mitsubishi driver Rifat Sungkar - stage 3 was the end of his dream run in the APRC drivers championship.

The Indonesian had started the stage in 6th place, but 10 kilometres into the slippery stage crashed out of the event in a big way! “We were on long fast right and the car appeared to momentarily loose power – we slid wide and hit a small concrete bridge on the left rear, almost rolled and then spun around and damaged the right side. The car is very bent but we hope to have it ready for my home event in Indonesia next month” said a very disappointed Sungkar afterwards.

With others around him having dramas, it was Crocker who found himself in his regular spot – leading the event for the LWR Subaru team and backed up by Yanagisawa in the CUSCO Subaru. However Yangisawa’s 2nd position was under threat by the fast charging Miettinen now only 14 second behind in 3rd and 1 second further back in 4th was Crocker’s young team-mate Eli Evans.

By Stage 4 and the lunch-break Miettinen had widened the gap to Evans to 15 seconds and closed up further on Yanagisawa and was only 11 seconds from second place. For the moment Crocker had a comfortable lead and could afford to ease off in the incredible heat “the biggest problem is dehydration and when you get dehydrated you start loosing concentration and it plays on your mind” said Crocker has he gulped down another litre of fluids. Taguchi had recovered some of the time lost earlier and was now 5th and 3 minutes and 20 seconds behind Crocker.

Having his best event of the year was New Zealander Brian Green holding 6th spot in the Wan Yu Rally team Mitsubishi, with Subhan Aksa 30 seconds back in 7th. Kiwi Dermott Malley lost 10 minutes in stage 4, after hitting one of the concrete bridges and bending a steering arm so badly, he had to make mid-stage repairs.

The afternoon stages were an exact repeat of the morning and it was the MRF team that came out firing – Taguchi and Miettinen taking equal fastest times on stage 5 (stage 1 in the morning), seven seconds faster than Crocker. Yanagisawa had a slow time and lost his 2nd spot to Miettinen. The MRF Mitsubishi pair repeated their fast times on stage 6, although it was Miettinen who was fastest overall, 2 seconds quicker than his Japanese team-mate with Yanagisawa 3rd and Crocker 4th. Overall the positions hadn’t changed but Taguchi was now only 30 seconds behind Evans and closing in on 4th spot, while Miettinen was edging closer to leader Crocker, but the gap was still 1 minute and 31 seconds.

Jarkko Miettinen
Unfortunately any hope of Miettinen catching Crocker evaporated on Stage 6 and 7. An afternoon rain-storm lashed the service park and Miettinen gambled on mud tyres for the final days stages. But as ever in Malaysia it can rain on one corner and not on another, the stages were 10 kilometres from the service-park, didn’t get the downpour and after a days sun - were dry and dusty. Consequently Miettinen fried his tyres in the heat, arriving back at service with little or no rubber left on them and seeing the gap to catch Crocker now 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

“The early part of the afternoon was good for us, my new co-driver and I got into a nice rhythm. Unfortunately with the rain coming down during service, we decided to go for mud-tyres for the final stages, but it was the wrong choice – the roads were dry!!” said Miettinen at the final service of Leg 1.

For LWR Subaru it was business as usual leading the event with a healthy margin, but still mindful of the conditions ‘we’re in a good position, but can’t afford to relax yet. If it rains tomorrow anything could happen” said Crocker.

Further down the field, after looking like a good result Brian Green retired on a touring stage from damage caused by another concrete bridge in Stage 6. At the end of the leg Subhan Aksa was in 5th and one minute in front of Eli Evans “tomorrow we have to push hard to keep in front Eli – if I can finish in 5th it will be my best international result” said Aksa.

With no overnight rain, the next morning the roads were dry and Crocker won the first two stages by a couple of seconds from Taguchi and Miettinen. The longer third stage of Leg 2, was easily won by Taguchi and at the same time he moved into 3rd overall, after Yanagisawa lost time with a bent steering arm. Taguchi won two more stages and although it was impossible to bridge the gap to 1st and 2nd place, the former APRC champion at least came away from the event with 3 extra bonus for winning the leg. It could easily have been a very different result, if it had not been for the puncture on stage 3. ‘ That’s rallying and sometimes you have some luck and sometimes you don’t. I’m very happy with today, the car is good and looking forward to Indonesia’ .

Miettinen had his best APRC finish of the year and was very happy with the development of the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 “the car was very very good, I really like the new Evo 9. I’ve never driven before in these really hot conditions, that was a small problem for me”.

Rally Malaysia Podium
Crocker again showed he is one of the worlds top drivers by winning a very tough event – and one that he’d never competed in before. Underlining his dominance of the APRC this year, the Australian has scored 63 points from a possible maximum score of 64. “This event was vital to us, being the first time we’ve been here, and we couldn’t afford any mistakes or problems,” Crocker said. “But we kept right out of trouble all weekend and the car has been fantastic once again. When you have confidence in your car it gives you so much more confidence to drive harder.It was incredibly hot, getting to around 45 degrees in the car and when the sun came out it was absolutely scorching. But we’ve come through well. Ben (Atkinson) did a great job calling the notes and we now have a handy 24 point buffer, which is getting to the point of giving us some confidence that we can win this championship.”

Hiroshi Yanagisawa slipped down to 4th on Day 2, but was happy to finish well. “We didn’t push too hard today, we just wanted to finish and gain experience.” Subhan Aksa had some engine problems on the final stages, but Evans also had a puncture (another concrete bridge!!) and lost time, therefore their positions didn’t change. It was Aksa’s best result in APRC and bodes well for his home event in Indonesia. Dermott Malley was the only other finisher in APRC coming home in 7th spot.

The next event in the APRC is Gudang Garam Rally of Indonesia, held on the island of Sulawesi 15-17 September. Indonesia is likely to be even hotter than Malaysia, but with less humidity.

Results – 2006 Rally Malaysia (Provisional)
1 C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI
2 J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +2 mins 34 secs
3 K Taguchi (J), M Stacey (Aus), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +2:36
4 H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +4:54
5 R Sungkar (RI), R Swarwano (RI), Proton Pert, + 12:34
6 S Aksa (RI)/ H Mboi (RI), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, +14:16
7 E Evans (Aus), C Murphy (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +16:56
8 D Malley (NZ), S Malley (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, +27:58

APRC Points (Provisional)
1 C Crocker (Australia), Subaru, 63
2 K Taguchi (Japan), Mitsubishi, 39
3 R Sungkar (Indonesia), Mitsubishi, 31
4 H Yangisawa, Japan, 26q
5 E Evans, (Australia), Subaru, 19q
6 J Mietten (Finland), Mitsubishi, 16

Malaysian Challenge

Four rounds down, three to go and now the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship race starts to heat up with the next two events in South East Asia - Malaysia and Indonesia.

Temperatures in the mid-thirties with 95% humidity make Malaysia Rally one of the toughest events to compete in. Dehydration is a major factor for the crews as the temperature in the rally cars often exceeds 50 degrees C, therefore the event requires a high level of fitness and lots of replacements fluids. Based in Johor Baru on the Southern tip of Malaysia, it is only one hours drive from Singapore making it one of the biggest motorsport events on the calendar for Singapore, as well as Malaysia. With most of the roads through Palm Oil or Rubber plantations the roads are relatively smooth and easy to drive - but as soon as they are dampened by the monsoon rainstorms, they're as slippery as ice - and worse - often there are patches with lots of grip and then the next corner there is none!!

LWR Subaru Team
Cody Crocker from Australia has done a fantastic job so far, winning the APRC category in each of the three events he's entered - Australia, New Zealand and Japan. But now the Subaru driver gets into unknown territory - the next events are totally new to Crocker while for his major Mitsubishi rivals Katsu Taguchi (Japan) and Rifat Sungkar (Indonesia) Malaysia is like a second home, with both drivers competing regularly in the Malaysian National Rally championship. However Crocker and the LWR Subaru team have one big advantage over their rivals - they have an 18 point lead in the driver championship and that means even if one his rivals scores a maximum 16 points in Malaysia and Crocker scores none, he would still lead the championship at the finish. Therefore all the Australian ace has to do is finish - preferably on the podium and he will retain a healthy margin without risking his championship aspirations.

MRF Mitsubishi Team
And for Taguchi and Sungkar - this is it, they have to win to have any chance of catching Crocker for the championship. If the conditions stay hot and dry they will have very little advantage over the their Subaru rivals, but should the rains come and the roads turn to mud tracks the experienced Mitsubishi teams should shine. After Japan Taguchi was looking forward to Malaysia. "Our new car (Mitsubishi Evo 9) is about 90% developed and will get better and better with each event. I know Malaysia very well and I hope to win'. For Indonesian driver Sungkar, this is his first year at APRC level and after missing Hokkaido is now 21 points adrift of championship leader Crocker, but if he can beat the Australian in Malaysia he will carry that into a serious advantage as the next rally is his home event - Rally of Indonesia, rough and hot!!

While the battle for the lead will be interesting, there are several drivers that may spring a surprise or two . Finnish driver Jarkko Miettinen as had a shocker of a season so far, but his pace improved towards the end of Rally Hokkaido and since then the MRF Mitsubishi driver won outright Round 2 of the Chinese Rally Championship - against some very hot European competition. This will have done Miettinens's confidence a world of good, but reality is that he has no hope of taking the championship and the best thing he can do is help his MRF Mitsubishi team-mate Taguchi, by taking points off their rivals. Cusco Subaru driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa was 2nd in APRC at Hokkaido and should be on the pace in Malaysia, although again this is new territory for him too. Crockers young team-mate Eli Evans is getting better and better with each event and he should easily finish in the points. Two drivers with a lot of experience in Malaysia are kiwis's Brian Green and Dermott Malley. Green was Malaysian Champion in 2004 and Malley always finishes well here. Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa is no stranger to the hot conditions and Fan Fan from China drove well in Malaysia last year.

The event begins with a ceremonial start on Friday night (18th August) in Teluk Danga, Johor Baru with the real action starting saturday morning. After two days of rallying the finish is scheduled for 3.00pm Sunday back in Teluk Danga.

Further inforamtion on the event see: www.malaysianrally.com

Katsu Taguchi (Mitsubishi) on-board camera from Rally Hokkaido
Using Windows Media Player, open file:
Katsu Taguchi Onboard

Press Release: Media Gateway Acquires Distribution Rights to APRC Content

Dubai, UAE and Auckland, New Zealand - Media Gateway, the leading international content clearing house for premium content, today announced an agreement to distribute TV footage and news coverage from the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship series across digital multimedia platforms in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Through the agreement, Media Gateway is able to distribute 2-minute news clips as well as half-hour episodes via mobile phones and the Internet for premium video-on-demand services.

The quality of the competition is exceptionally high, with winners from other championships competing in the APRC. Past and present champion drivers who have competed include former Hyundai test driver Jussi Valimaki from Finland, Malaysian Karamjit Singh, multiple Malaysian champion and Production WRC championship winner in 2002, German Armin Kremer, a former European Rally Champion, Kiwi Possum Bourne, a multiple Australian Rally Champion, and the world's most successful rally driver, Carlos Sainz, who won the Asia-Pacific championship in 1990.

"The 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship will have a population base of 2.1 billion people - more than 1/3 of the world's population. That's the largest population base of any FIA motorsport championship. Therefore, we are very excited to be able to be bringing fans of these spectacular events yet more ways to watch highlights and coverage from this exciting sport," Media Gateway Chief Executive Officer Karri Zaremba said.

Brian Young, Managing Director at APRC.TV Ltd., the company responsible for coordinating the championship's extensive international TV and media coverage, said, "The total number of TV viewers watching the APRC in 2005 was around 54 million across 45 countries. By partnering with Media Gateway, we are looking forward to increasing that number further, by giving fans of the event more ways to watch - when they want, and where they want."

About APRC

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is an official F.I.A. championship that covers a diverse range of countries, climates, cultures and a population base of over 2.5 billion people. In 2006 seven events make-up the championship starting in the Pacific region with Rally of Canberra (Australia), the tropical island of New Caledonia, Rotorua (New Zealand), then to Asia to Hokkaido (Japan), Malaysia, Indonesia and to China. Drivers from Germany, Finland, Malaysia, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand compete in the latest Group N Production cars from Mitsubishi and Subaru. From beautiful south-sea island sunsets to rugged mountains in southern China, this rally championship has it all.

About Media Gateway

Media Gateway is the leading international Content Clearing House for digital media license rights of regional and international TV, film, music, radio and games content. Media Gateway ensures these rights are fully exploited by securing alternative modes of distribution, with a focus on live signal streaming or server-based video on demand play-out via IPTV, PC Broadband, Video on Demand, Mobile Telephony, and PDAs. For more information, visit www.1mediagateway.com.

Press Release: Outcomes from the APRC Working Group Meeting of 14 July
26 July 2006

A Working Group meeting, for the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship was held in Singapore on July 14. It was attended by ASNs and promoters represented in the Championship as well as Rally Commission members.

A wide range of subjects was discussed. Following is a summary of the main recommendations. These will be presented to the next Rally Commission meeting and if agreed there, to the World Motor Sport Council.

Mr Wan Heping, from the Federation of Automobile Sports of the People's Republic of China was appointed to the Executive of the Working Group. He joins the Chairman, Mr Nazir Hoosein (IND), Mr Morrie Chandler (NZ) and Mr Garry Connelly (AUS) on the Executive.

Currently there are seven events in the Championship and competitors must undertake to nominate and take part in six. Once again, the Working Group will propose that the number of events be reduced to six with all rounds to count. The final decision will be taken by the World Council if this proposal is approved by the FIA Rally Commission.

Some minor changes have been made in areas where the wording was ambiguous, but there are no major changes proposed to the sporting Regulations for the APRC.

The importance of showing potential sponsors that the Championship can provide value and stability was acknowledged. One area that was addressed is consistency between events. In 2006 efforts have already been made by introducing a standard format for the finish ceremony and a schedule for publication and distribution of documents as well as a set format. For 2007 a recommendation will be made to introduce a regulation stating the minimum requirements for the design and layout of the start and finish podiums.

There will also be more consistency in the procedures for media accreditation including provision of permanent passes for media that are accredited for the whole Championship.

The Championship has received world-wide TV coverage in 2006, helped by APRC TV and also by the crews that are supporting the Indonesia Rally Team (Metro), Wanyu Rally Team (Guandong TV) and the MRF team (India - various). There was discussion about how to manage TV crews on event, and this was referred to the Executive group for further input.

The next event on the APRC Calendar for 2006 will be the Rally of Malaysia, taking place from 18 - 20 August.

For more information:
APRC Secretariat
Ph: +64 9 276 0882
Fax: +64 9 276 0881
Email: deborah@rallynz.org.nz
Web: www.fiaaprc.com

Miettinen takes victory in China National Rally Championship

Miettinen and Markkula celebrate victory
Photo: Autosports China
APRC driver Jarkko Miettinen from Finland, has won round 2 of the China Rally Championship with a thrilling 'come from behind' win over British star David Higgins and fellow Finn Juha Salo.

Overnight leaders, New Zealand champions Richard Mason and Sara Randall, pulled over immediately after the first service of day 2 with what was thought to be water in the fuel of their Subaru Impreza. They had to pump it out and as a result were six minutes late to the start of the first stage, dropping a minute of road penalties and with it, the lead of the rally.

It promoted former British champion Higgins into a narrow lead over Miettinen, both driving Mitsubishi Evo 9's.

Higgins maintained the advantage through the day, taking a 14.1 second lead into the penultimate 21km test. Miettinen however put in a real charge to take 16.6 seconds back and snatch the lead by just 2.5 seconds going into the final stage of the rally to set up a thrilling finish.

Mikko Markkula(L) & Jarkko Miettinen (R)
Unfortunately for Higgins and co-driver Ieuan Thomas, with 10km's of the final 13.5km run still to drive, the engine management system switched itself into 'safe mode', and his chances were gone, dropping a further 9.6 seconds to give Miettinen a hard fought victory. Mason also struggled on that final test, retiring from the event.

After many disappointments this year, Miettien's win will give him a huge boost of confidence going into round 5 of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship the Malaysia Rally (www.malaysianrally.com) on August 18-20th.

Other APRC drivers competing in China included New Zealanders Mark Tapper, Brian Green and former champion Asia-Pacific Karamjit Singh from Malaysia. After a brillant first day Tapper was leading the 2WD class, but suffered mechanical problems on the first stage of Leg 2 and retired, while Green and co-driver Fleur Pedersen, had an altercation with a taxi on their way to the first stage that damaged the left front corner of their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9. However they were able to continue and finished 10th overall. Singh retired on the first day while in 9th.

Unofficial results from China.
1 Jarkko Miettinen/Mikko Markkula (Fin) (Mitsubishi Evo)
2 David Higgins/ Ieuan Thomas (GB) (Mitsubishi Evo9) +12.1 seconds
3 Juha Salo/Mika Stenberg (Fin) (Mitsubishi Evo9) + 1minute 55.1
4 Domenico Caldarola/Paola Cecchina (Ita)(Subar Impreza WRX) +2:40.2
5 Martin Rowe/Rob Fagg (GB) (Mitsubishi Evo9) +6:12.7

Kiwis lead in China
China National Rally Championship

22JUL06 - by Chris Grant.

Richard Mason
Current New Zealand Rally Champion, Richard Mason has won the first leg of Round 2 of the China National Rally Championship after winning four of the five stages that made up the opening leg of the two day event in the Guizhou province in south-western China.

Richard and Co-Driver/Fiancee Sara Randall have powered their Left Hand Drive GT Tires Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX through almost 100 kilometres of high altitude tests in fine but hot conditions, to finish the day 35 seconds ahead of former British Champion David Higgins, who is 9 seconds clear of Finnish star Jarkko Miettinen. Over one minute further back is the current Finnish Group N Champion Juha Salo. All three are driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9's.

Mark Tapper
The other two Kiwi crews in the 9 stage rally this weekend are still running well, with Mark Tapper/Jeff Judd now leading the 2WD class, despite cracking the sump on their 1600cc VW Polo, during the first pass of the stages this morning - a problem that was rectified at the first service of the day. Mark is locked in a titanic battle with former Asia-Pacific Hyundai World Rally Car driver Saladin Mazlan (VW) from Malaysia - the margin being just under 3 seconds.

The Palmerston North team of Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen have been forced to drive the last four stages without the use of 4th gear on their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9, but have performed very well under the circumstances to get back up to 15th place overall. A new gearbox has been fitted by the Wan Yu Rally Team at the end of leg service. First round winner, and ex WRC works driver, Alister McRae, rolled his Evo9 in the first stage and lost 10 minutes, but has managed to continue. Also in trouble was 2003 World Production Car Champion (PCWRC), Martin Rowe (GB) who dropped 3-4 minutes due to a puncture.

Other leading international drivers doing well include, Italian Nico Caldarola (Subaru) who is currently 5th, 19 seconds behind Salo. However 2002 PCWRC and three-times Asia-Pacific Champion Karamjit Singh (Malaysia) was 9th in his Evo9, but stopped at the end of stage 4 with engine problems. Sunday's Leg comprises 4 stages (70k), with two new pieces of road used twice, and is described by Brian Green as very similar to the WRC Acropolis Rally in Greece - very, very rough with lots of big rocks. As rally leader, Mason and Randall will start first at 11.30am (NZ Time) and the rally is due to finish at 7pm (NZ Time).

Our thanks to Brian Green who has been the source of this information throughout the day.

For further information about Richard Mason and Richard Mason Motorsport - www.richardmason.co.nz

Crocker takes maximum points in Hokkaido

Cody Crocker & Ben Atkinson
Australian driver Cody Crocker drove brillantly to take the maximum points at Rally Hokkaido, Japan, and build his lead in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). Driving a Subaru Impreza WRX run by Les Walkden Rallying, Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson finished one minute 16.4 seconds clear of championship rival, Hiroshi Yanagisawa in the Cusco Subaru, followed by Katsu Taguchi in the first of the Mitsubishi's a further 1 minute and 5 seconds back.

The Rally of Hokkaido is based in the city of Obihiro, with competition held in the beautiful forests and hills nearby. The event was held in cool summer conditions, with the 230 kilometres of competition roads dry and dusty, but in excellent condition. The drivers found the roads quite rough on the 2nd passage through and this required they adapt their driving to suit the tricky conditions.

Outright honours for the Japanese event went to local Subaru driver, Toshi Arai, who finished one minute 33 seconds clear of countryman Takuma Kamada, also in an Impreza WRX STI, with Crocker, driving for Les Walkden Rallying third just a further 0.4 seconds behind. But neither Arai or Kamada are entered in the Asia Pacific series and were on the road 20 minutes after Crocker, a major advantage on the morning stages when the Australian, in start position number one, was left to sweep the roads for those that followed.

In the APRC points race Crocker earned the maximum 16 points to move his total to 48, having won every day and every event contested in three APRC rounds this season. He is now 18 clear of his nearest rival, Katsuhiko Taguchi from Japan. Crocker's win also puts Subaru back in the lead of the manufacturers championship with Subaru on 48 points and Mitsubishi on 42.

Cody Crocker
Crocker was delighted to maintain his outstanding 2006 record on the difficult Hokkaido roads. "I'm absolutely rapted with the result," Crocker said. "It was a really exhausting event, really tough because of the temperatures and the road conditions. The first time we went over the stages this morning we were sweeping inches of gravel off the road, and the second time through was incredibly rough. But the ruts were easy compared to the gravel. We managed to take around two seconds a kilometre off our times when we repeated the stage in the afternoon. We stayed out of trouble all weekend, which really is the key. One puncture and you ruin any chance of a top result."

For Hiroshi Yanagisawa his 2nd place in APRC gets him back into 4th on the points table (19 points). Yanagisawa drove a controlled rally not quite on the pace of Crocker, but enough to keep ahead of the MRF Mitsubishi's. "We are very happy with our result, roads were often rough and some big rocks, so we decided today no more risks, 2nd place is OK for us" said Yanagisawa at the finish.

While the MRF Mitsubishi's were a little disappointed to finish 3rd and 4th, local Mitsubishi star Katsuhiko Taguchi was already looking at the next events, "The car was very good and ran faultlessly, especially as these were brand new cars. We still have some way to go, to get the perfect set-up - at the moment only about 90% performance, next event maybe 93-94%. I think the next round of Asia-Pacific in Malaysia will be better for the car and for myself I have plenty of experience from the Malaysian championship and hope we can win."

Eli Evans
For Taguchi's team-mate Jarkko Miettinen from Finland this was an event to re-build his championship hopes and on the second day of the event, as his confidence returned Miettinen's pace quickened and to prove that, he set the fastest time on SS14 and collected a bonus point for finishing 3rd fastest on day 2. "A little disappointed as we are here to win and get maximum points, but overall it was good to finish, collect 6 points and today was a good driving day for us - we drove less aggressively, more smooth and the times begun to get better from there".

Young Australian driver Eli Evans, also driving for Les Walkden Rallying, finished seventh outright and fifth of the ARPC cars, an outstanding performance in his debut in Japan. He is now in fifth place on the points table on 17.

Subhan Aksa
Subhan Aksa from Indonesia finished 6th in APRC after an eventful rally. On the 1st day he was pushed off the road and down a bank by another competitor, while driving on a liason section. After being towed out the young Indonesian driver was unfortunately 1-minute over lateness, but was re-instated in the event that night by the stewards. Aksa was the final victor in a three way battle between himself and New Zealand drivers Brian Green and Dermott Malley. The three drives were only ever seperated by 20 seconds for most of the event, with Aksa finally finishing 16 seconds in front of Green. Malley unfortunately paid the price and crashed out in the final stages. Fan Fan from China picked up the final point for this round having a good run in his new Wan Yu Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

The Asia Pacific Rally teams now move to Malaysia for the next round of the APRC on August 18-20. Malaysia is well known for its heat and humidity - and sudden tropical downpours that can instantly turn the fast rubber plantation roads into muddy and extremely slippery jungle tracks.

Final Results - Rally Hokkaido, Sunday July 9, 2006 (Provisional)
1 T Arai (J), T Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 2:25:19.2
2 T Kamada (J), H Ichino (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:33.5
3 *C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +1:33.9
4 *H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2:50.3
5 *K Taguchi (J), M Stacey (Aus), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3:56.0
6 *J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4:04.3
7 *E Evans (Aus), M McAdam (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +6:44.8
* = Asia-Pacific Rally Championship competitor

Asia Pacific Championship points after Rally Hokkaido (Event 4 of 7)
1 C Crocker (Australia), Subaru, 48
2 K Taguchi (Japan), Mitsubishi, 30
3 R Sungkar (Indonesia), Mitsubishi, 27
4 H Yangisawa, (Japan), Subaru 19
5 E Evans, (Australia), Subaru 17
6 D Malley (New Zealand) Mitsubishi 12
7. Fan Fan (China) Mitsubishi 12
8. Subhan Aksa (Indonesia) Mitsubishi 7
9. J Miettinen (Finland) Mitsubishi 6
10 B Green (New Zealand) Mitsubishi 3

Crocker, Taguchi and Yanagisawa go head to head in Hokkaido

Cody Crocker
After completing three rounds in the Pacific region the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship heads this weekend (7-9 July) to its first Asian event, Rally of Hokkaido, Japan, based in the city of Obihiro and the same locality as the WRC event scheduled for September.

Championship leader and reigning Australian champion, Subaru driver Cody Crocker goes to Hokkaido with a maximum points score from his two previous Asia Pacific outings this year. Crocker is already five points clear of second placed Rifat Sungkar (Mitsubishi) and nine points ahead of Japanese driver Katsu Taguchi. After the latest round in Rotorua New Zealand, Crocker was already looking ahead to Japan "I've done two Rally of Japans and the roads are very similar this year, but its Katsu's home territory and so we're going to have pull something out of the bag to beat him there" said Crocker.

Katsu Taguchi
Taguchi is looking foward to driving a brand new car - a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 and after winning the event outright last year, is firm favorite to take maximum APRC points. Taguchi attributes alot of his success to his Australian co-driver Mark Stacey " With all his experience I know he won't make mistakes and I can totally trust my management schedule to him. We have a really excellent relationship and Mark is great fun in and out of the car." said Taguchi prior to leaving for Hokkaido.

While Crocker and Taguchi are the firm favorites, the dark horse to take APRC honours is Hiroshi Yanagisawa in a brand new Cusco Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. Yanagisawa led most of last years event and equipped with the latest spec STi Impreza should be a real car contender for victory in his home country. The team are desperate to make up for the disarster in New Zealand where the rally car was damaged in a road accident and while repaired, the roll-cage was judged to have been too badly damaged to be safe and Yanagisawa forced to with-draw from the Rotorua event. Completing the Subaru line-up is Crockers team-mate Eli Evans who has had some impressive performances so far in the championship.

Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Lined up behind Yanigisawa is Jarkko Miettinen from Finland - team-mate to Taguchi in a MRF Mitsubishi. Miettinen has had a terrible start to his APRC campaign and is the only registered driver not to have scored any points this year. He will be keen to make amends.

After finishing on the podium in last year's Hokkaido event New Zealander Dermott Malley, repeated that feat with a 3rd in this year's Rally New Caledonia and when the fast boys falter, Malley can be relied upon to pick up the pieces.

New cars abound in Hokkaido and the China based Wan Yu Rally team are no exception with two new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9's for Kiwi Brian Green and team-owner Fan Fan. After finishing third in Rotorua Fan Fan is full of confidence although this is his first experience of the Japanese island's unusual roads. Flying the flag for Indonesia is Subhan Aksa in a Mitsubishi Evo 8. Aksa flies into every event from London, where he is studying at university.

Not entered for Hokkaido is the current 2nd place competitor Rifat Sungkar, the Indonesian driver choosing this event as his one event to skip. Also not on the entrylist is Mark Tapper - whose drive in the two-wheel driver Fiesta ST in Rotorua, the previous round in the series, was the talk of the event. Having already declared the opening round Canberra as his one permitted missing event, non-appearance in Hokkaido excludes him from being classified in the remaining events of the APRC series.

Rally of Hokkaido is well known for narrow and very soft based roads, its a tricky event and often weather plays its part. A ceremonial start in down-town Obihiro Friday night kicks the event off, with real action taking pace on Saturday and Sunday.

For updates and futher information please visit:   http://www.rally-hokkaido.com

Young Tapper stuns old hands at International Rally of Rotorua
Wed June 7, 2006

Mark Tapper
Photo: Alan MacDonald
Running the Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy car in the International Rally of Rotorua resulted in a stunning eighth place finish for the two-wheel-drive car.

Against an international field and his Kiwi peers, Auckland's Mark Tapper thrilled crowds with his sideways style. The Fiesta left many of the more fancied four-wheel-drive cars in the background.

The Fiesta, a new car built using the specific Sporting Trophy kit of parts, features a highly developed suspension and gearbox system which gave it a big increase in performance over 275km of gravel roads.

It was in its element in Saturday's tight and twisty stages, although the faster Sunday roads allowed the more powerful four-wheel-drive cars to encroach on the young Aucklander's advantage.

"I think we proved the car's ability with the event result," Tapper said, "The car was so easy to drive and that made my job so much easier - there wasn't a problem all weekend. It is predictable to drive. You can just tell it isn't going to do anything stupid."

The car is based on a standard road-going Fiesta ST150 that is fitted with a specialist parts kit supplied by Ford Rallysport factory team M-Sport in Britain. The Fiesta Sporting Trophy is designed to encourage keen competition for cars with equivalent performances to evaluate them for a championship category to be introduced to the New Zealand title.

The Ford Fiesta will be run at selected events during this season. "I would like to drive it again," Tapper said, "It was a lot of fun and exceeded all my expectations."

Crocker leads APRC points after 3rd round win

Cody Crocker
Cody Crocker from Australia easily won Round 3 of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship at Rotorua, New Zealand. The roads east of Rotorua are some of the toughest and most notorious in world rallying and the weather conditions on day one were atrocious with heavy rain making roads slippery and treacherous. However Crocker kept his head coming 2nd overall in the event (Kiwi star Richard Mason won the event by 8 seconds) and winning the APRC battle. The win puts the 3-times Australian Champion back in the lead of the APRC driver points race after taking maximum points from both Canberra and Rotorua.

The first day of competition was a real marathon with 170 kilometers of competitive stages and featuring one of the worlds longest and toughest rally roads the 47 km Motu - a twisty mountain stage with hundreds of corners and gear-changes. Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson had over 50 pages of pace notes for this one stage!! Adding to the challenge was torrential rain making conditions slippery, treacherous and visibility at times near impossible.

Crocker immediately set the pace in the APRC category and was only a few seconds off the overall lead for most of the 1st leg. Then on stage 5 as the rain started to ease off, Crocker put in a blinder on the very fast Rakuroa stage, snatching the lead off Mason by 5 seconds and holding it to the end of the leg. Back at Matawai final service Crocker said "the Motu stage was an amazing experience - it was tight and twisty while the rain made it tough. It was the longest and most challenging stage I've done in a long time.

Fan Fan - Water Splash
Holding 2nd in APRC was Crocker's team-mate Eli Evans, that is until Stage 4 when the young Australian miss-heard a pace-note and slid off the road, through a fence and down a bank. While the car was undamaged Evans and co-driver Matt McAdam couldn't get back on the road, retiring from the overall event, but returning on Day 2 to go for bonus points.

Evans demise was Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar's opportunity to slot into second albeit 8 minutes behind Crocker. Sungkar had taken delivery of a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 one day before the event and was enjoying the extra torque and power from the new car built by Reece Jones Rallysport.

Third in APRC at the end of leg one was Brian Green in the Wan Yu Rally team Mitsubishi, having a great run for his new Chinese based team.

The most spectacular driving was coming Mark Tapper, the young kiwi debuting a brand new M-Sport Ford Feista. While the car doesn't have the power of his usual Mitsubishi, the handling and braking of the car are exceptional and he put on a spectacular show in the rain and mud - and embarrassing many of the faster 4WD cars. Unfortunately his entry in APRC had been disallowed due to a paper-work mix-up but at the end of Leg 1 the 2WD normally aspirated 2-litre Feista was in 7th overall in the rally.

The second day of the event dawned a little brighter and the sun soon came out. However the roads were still very wet and the Rotorua service park was shifted to higher and drier ground. The battle continued between Crocker and Mason, with Crocker holding an 11 second lead after the first set of stages around the lakes of Rotorua. Then on stage 11 Mason made his move going 18 seconds quicker than Crocker and taking the lead by 6 seconds and increasing that margin slightly by the finish to 8 seconds. For Crocker though the APRC win was what he came to New Zealand for and he won by a massive 15 minutes over nearest APRC rival Sungkar. "I was surprised by Richard Mason pulling it out of the hat," Crocker said. "I had a few moments with braking today. It is a very different rally to that in Australia. This event has lots more corners and is much harder on the body, and harder to keep the concentration up. Overall I am thrilled to be in the lead in the Asia Pacific Championship and looking forward to the next rally in Japan."

Finish Podium
While a long way behind Crocker, Rifat Sungkar drove a sensible rally at a fast, but safe pace to finish in 2nd pace for APRC and 6th overall. With the extreme weather conditions this was the right approach and netted Sungkar his second APRC podium place in as many rallies - the Mitsubishi driver also finished 2nd in Rally of New Caledonia one month ago. " I really like the fast New Zealand roads and the new car has made a big difference. Out strategy is to score points consistently and so far we are on track - with this result we remain in 2nd position. We did have some luck - we were very close to rolling over a bank this morning, the car was on two wheels but fortunately it came back down again and we continued on, but my team-mate (Aksa) was not so lucky he crashed off on the same corner - maybe its called Indonesian corner!", said Sungkar at the finish.

Unfortunately for Brian Green the day was a disaster with his engine expiring and his podium finish disappearing in a cloud of blue smoke. " I had started to make my victory speech in my head - never has the saying 'don't count your chickens before they hatch' been more true!!. I'm totally gutted', said a disappointed Green back at the service park. His only consolation was that his team-boss Fan Fan took over the 3rd place and held it to the finish. " I really like the New Zealand roads and I hope I can come back again, they are fantastic fun. Our team did a great job" said a delighted Fan Fan.

Dermott Malley from New Zealand continued his strong finishing record, although he was disappointed not to have had another podium finish. Malley's wife Linzi is his co-driver and unfortunately on the first day she suffered with a bad bout of car sickness bought on by the twisty undulating roads of the Motu and Whakarua stages. On the second leg it was the car's turn to feel sick and the unlucky pair drove most of the leg with no power from the turbo.

Mark Tapper found the faster roads on Day 2 didn't suit the lower powered Feista and dropped a position to 8th overall. However if he'd been registered for APRC points Tapper would have finished 3rd and on the podium.

The manufacturers championship is very close with Mitsubishi just ahead on 34 points, 2 ahead of Subaru.

The next round of the Asia-Pacific Championship is Rally Hokkaido in Japan on July 7-9. With the leading competitors having each dropped a round, every event will now count in the battle for the 2006 championship honours

Large international field heads to Rally of Rotorua

Cody Crocker
Rally of Rotorua the third round of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship has it biggest list of international entries for many years. Drivers from Australia, China, New Caledonia, Japan and Indonesia will compete against the best local drivers in the two-day event, round 3 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Leading the international field is three times Australian Rally Champion Cody Crocker driving a Les Walkden Motorsport prepared Subaru Impreza. The Australian rally ace has been a regular visitor to New Zealand in the past, competing in the World Championship Rally of New Zealand and winning the Group N production class last year. But its Crocker's first appearance on the Rotorua roads, "Its going to be a fantastic event, I've been there before to help out Possum (Bourne) but haven't driven the stages, so its all new". Crocker co-driver will be fellow Australian Ben Atkinson, brother of World Rally competitor Chris Atkinson. Crocker and Atkinson began their partnership with a win in Round 1 of the APRC - Rally of Canberra and are currently equal 2nd in the driver points.

Joining Crocker in the LWR Subaru team, is rising Australian rally star, Eli Evans. A past winner of the Australian Subaru RS Rally Challenge, Evans is contesting the Asia Pacific Rally Championship as teammate to Crocker and will be looking to gain further experience of international rallying on his first event outside Australia. "It's a huge learning curve this year, I've only ever been outside Australia once and that was a holiday to Fiji, so this championship is a totally new experience' said Evans.

Hiroshi Yanigisawa
Further strengthening the Subaru presence will be Japanese driver Hiroshi Yanigisawa, in a Cusco Racing Impreza, who is also contesting the APRC series in 2006. A spectator favourite with his hard charging style, Yanigasawa competed at Rotorua in 2004 and 2005, finishing in the top ten both times.

With 2005 championship winning MRF Mitsubishi team opting to drop this round, APRC Mitsubishi honours are left to the Indonesia Rally Team and the Chinese based Wan Yu Rally team. Indonesian APRC competitors Rifat Sungkar and Subhan Aska will contest the event in a two-car team of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8's. Of the two drivers Sungkar has the most international experience and after two good results in the first two rounds is 2nd equal on points with Cody Crocker. Also driving Mitsubishi Evo 8's will be Chinese competitor Fan Fan, joined in the team by kiwi Brian Green. Dermott Malley and wife Linzi will be expecting a good result on home ground after finishing 3rd in APRC in New Caledonia.

The surprise package in the APRC entrants is Mark Tapper entered in Ford! The young kiwi will debut a brand new Ford Feista in the N3 class and while the midget Ford may not have the power of Tapper's usual Mitsubishi 4WD early testing has been encouraging, "We did about 30km of testing and while it doesn't have a huge amount of power, the handling and grip is fantastic. The car is an M-Sport kit, fitted with Rieger suspension and the gearbox one of the best I've ever used - I just wish all the stages were downhill!" commented Tapper.

While not entered in the APRC other international drivers include New Caledonian rallying legend Jean Louis Leyraud who first competed in New Zealand in 1972!! A multiple national champion in his homeland Leyraud will contest the event in a Subaru Impreza with Kiwi Rob Scott as co-driver. Also from New Caledonian are Daniel Palau and Patrick Christian both in Mitsubishi and fresh from good results in their home event.

Rifat Sungkar
The international entrants will face strong competition from the best local drivers competing in round 2 of the New Zealand National Rally Championship with the leading entrants being current National Champion Richard Mason of Masterton and Subaru NZ Rally Team driver Chris West.

The Rotorua event will have no shortage of international television and media coverage. In addition to the APRC's own official global TV coverage, a production team from Guangdong-TV one of China's biggest TV networks will ensure that a potential 200 million viewers in southern China will see the event. Metro TV Indonesia will have a crew shooting for their sports channel, plus other programming will air in Indonesia on TV 7 and Kabelvision - adding a further 45 million potential viewers.

The Hella International Rally of Rotorua, round three of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, starts from City Focus in the heart of Rotorua with a ceremonial start on the evening of Friday 26th May, and comprises two legs of competition in the Rotorua and Eastern Bay of Plenty Region followed by the ceremonial finish back at the new location of the Village Green on the afternoon of Sunday 28th May.

ESPN STAR Sports to screen WRC and APRC in Asia

ISC Ltd, the global media and commercial rights holders for the FIA World Rally Championship has announced a new television agreement with ESPN STAR Sports, which will see them televise the sport in Asia. v "With a four-season commitment to WRC, up to and including 2008/09, fans of the sport [in Asia] will be able to enjoy more action, news, thrills and spills than ever before," read a statement from ISC Ltd. "ESPN STAR Sports will deliver extensive WRC coverage featuring the most spectacular footage and arguably the world's greatest drivers. Broadcasting daily news and highlights from each of the 16 rounds of the WRC, ESPN STAR Sports will also deliver the best action from the two support series', the Junior and Production car World Rally Championships, as well as mid and end of season reviews.

"From 2007, viewers of ESPN STAR Sports will also be able to watch the Rally Magazine show, featuring highlights of the best footage from the world of rally including national and regional championships, such as the FIA ASIA PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP. In addition to the daily programmes, WRC fans will also be able to watch a 52-minute highlights show for each rally."

"Our successful acquisition of the FIA World Rally Championship sees us continue our winning streak of securing top flight motorsports programming to satisfy the growing passion for the sport across Asia," said ESPN Star Sports managing director, Jamie Davis. "Together with Formula One, A1 as well as MotoGP, there is no sports broadcaster in the region that delivers as much motorsport coverage as we do."

All WRC programming will be aired on the network's STAR Sports channel which is broadcast to over 63 million homes across Asia.

"Asia is the fastest growing region in the world for WRC as well as a crucial market for car manufacturers and advertisers," added ISC managing director, Simon Long. "We are very excited to be entering into this pivotal agreement with ESPN STAR Sports which will allow more fans than ever to watch the adrenaline-fuelled action of WRC."

The agreement was jointly put together by ISC and International Sports Media which represented WRC TV rights in the region until the end of 2005.

Taguchi wins Rally of New Caledonia and takes APRC Points lead

Mark Stacey & Katsuhiko Taguchi
Photo: Seiki/World Rally Press
The conditions were hot and humid. The stages were slippery, twisty and in some places very fast.

But MRF Mitsubishi driver Katsuhiko Taguchi from Japan used his experience of the conditions to stay cool and stay out of trouble, while all around him other competitors crashed out or retired with mechanical problems. And it makes up for last years event when Taguchi and co-driver Mark Stacey retired while leading with mechanical problems. After the event Taguchi commented “Although there were a few tight corners and the conditions slippery in a few of the stages, I was comfortable,” he said. . “The roads were sometimes narrow and sometimes wide and fast. But it was both challenging and enjoyable,” he said.

Taguchi totally dominated the event, winning both legs and finishing six minutes and 26 seconds in front of nearest APRC rival Rifat Sungkar from Indonesia also driving a Mitsubishi. For Sungkar in only his 2nd APRC event, this was a fantastic result "It took a little while to get dialed into the high-speed roads, but this event the car has gone much better, so I'm very happy".

Dermott Malley and wife Linzi from New Zealand were third and the 2nd time Malley has been on the podium in the past year, after a similar result achieved in last year's Rally of Hokkaido. Chinese driver and team-owner Fan Fan was 4th, followed by Indonesia Rally team driver Subhan Aksa. Aksa was lucky to finish after suffering a mysterious illness on Leg 1, that left him dizzy and dehydrated.

Katsuhiko Taguchi
Photo: Seiki/World Rally Press
New Caledonia was another disastrous event for MRF Mitsubishi team's second entry Jarko Miettinen. The Finnish driver had a narrow lead over Taguchi going into the 4th stage and then on a slow hairpin bend, the nose of the car nudged the inside bank and tipped the Mitsubishi onto its roof. Although a very slow speed roll-over the bonnet was crushed and engine damage sustained, putting the crew out of the event permanently. A clearly disappointed Mittinen said afterwards “I did not push hard. I was very careful. But a small driving error saw me hit the wall. It was a big disappointment,”.

New Zealander Mark Tapper moved into 2nd position with Miettinen retirement and with Taguchi way out in front and a safe distance back to 3rd, Tapper was content to maintain his position and collect his first APRC points. That plan evaporated in the water-splash on stage 6 when water ripped off the fan blades and penetrated the radiator. 'We slowed right down and went through the water in first gear - I just can't believe it!! The first time through it we went much faster with no damage" said Tapper afterwards. A similar problem lead to Brian Greens retirement in the 2nd of the Wan Yu Rally Team cars.

With Taguchi winning both legs (leg 2 was shortened for safetky reasons) he now leads the APRC drivers championship with 23 points, followed by Sungkar and Cody Crocker equal on 16 points. The MRF Mitsubishi team is dropping the next APRC event Rally of Rotorua (May 26-28) and will return for Round 4 Rally of Hokkaido.

Provisional Results - Résultats Provisoires
Crew Nat Vehicle Group
1 01
2 03
SUNGKAR Rifat - MOHAMAD Herkusuma
3 07
MALLEY Dermott - MALLEY Linzi
4 04
FAN Fan - FANG Jun Wei
5 06
AKSA Subhan - MBOI Hade

   # : APRC registered

New Caledonia challenge for Tapper

Mark Tapper & Jeff Judd
Auckland Rally driver Mark Tapper will get his first taste of international rallying on foreign soil when he starts this weekends Rallye New Caledonia.

The 25-year-old Auckland rally driver is aiming for a podium finish in the event, which is a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship but is realistic about the challenge in front of him. "This will be the first time I have competed outside of New Zealand, so it's going to take a while to learn the roads and conditions. There is strong competition from the likes of Katsuhiko Taguchi a past APRC champion and local expert Jean Louis Leyraud who started rallying before I was even born."

Mark will be partnered by Christchurch based co-driver Jeff Judd and will contest the event in the left hand drive Rally Drive NZ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, which he took to victory in the recent Possum Bourne Memorial Rally based around Pukekohe.

Mark Tapper
"Dale Perry from Rally Drive NZ has provided the car for the event, and we have also received great support from New Caledonian rally driver Patrick Christian. The support of Dale and Patrick has made this whole trip possible and I must say a big thank you to both for their efforts, along with PDL shipping who have transported the car and equipment to New Caledonia."

"I am really looking forward to the challenge of the event, and the international competition makes it even more exciting. Our number one aim is to finish the event and gain experience, if we can get onto the podium on our first attempt at the event it will repay the support of the people who have made this possible."

Eleven teams enter 2006 APRC - Eight for New Caledonia

Subhan Aksa
Eleven teams have registered for the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Originally nine drivers had entered the series, but over the past week with the deadline closing on 8th April, two kiwis have joined the list - veteran Dermott Malley and young Mark Tapper.

This will be Malley's third year competing in the APRC and he will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 run by Reece Jones Motorsport. Joining the championship for the first time is young Mark Tapper also in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 - Mark will be co-driven by experienced co-driver Jeff Judd. Tapper has twice been on the podium at Rally of Rotorua and has entered the APRC to gain more international experience and recognition.

With the Subaru teams of Les Walkden and Cusco Racing opting not to compete in Round 2 Rally of New Caledonia, eight APRC crews will take the startline in Noumea on Friday. The entry list is headed by the MRF Mitsubishi team who will enter two Evo 8's for Japanese Katsu Taguchi and Finnish driver Jarkko Miettinen. The Chinese Wan Yu Rally team makes its first appearance on the championship for 2006 with team-owner and driver Fan Fan joined by veteran New Zealander Brian Green. Rifat Sungkar and Subhan Aksa are entered for the Indonesia Rally team and kiwis Dermott Malley and Mark Tapper begin their APRC campaigns in New Caledonia. All teams will use Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's.

Katsu Taguchi
The visitors will find strong local opposition with entries from Jean-Louis Leyraud (Subaru), Christian Patrick (Mitsubishi) and making a welcome return is Julien Lenglet in a Subaru. Nick Marshall (Peugeot 106) is the only other international driver. The action starts on Friday 14th April with a ceremonial start and super-special stage in Noumea. A 5:00am start on Saturday as the crews head 200km north to stages around Poya and Sunday is the traditional red-soil area south-west of Noumea. After a final stage around the superspecial the finish podium is scheduled or 4.30pm on Sunday back in Noumea. Running one month earlier than normal, should mean warm temperatures and fine weather.

For further and results see: www.rallye-nc.net

Crocker and Subaru take early championship lead

By Brian Young 12MAR06

Crocker Wins
Australian Cody Crocker got his 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship campaign off to an ideal start by winning the first round of the international series The Subaru Rally of Canberra in his homeland of Australia. Crocker dominated the event leading from start to finish and winning every stage - par one. "Its never an easy win, we had some niggling problems, but the car went well and Ben (Atkinson) and I quickly got into a rhythm. A great start for the championship - lots of points and its always good to establish a lead early on. It was very demanding in the heat today, which is a good taste of what is to come in many of the rounds in the rest of the Championship".

Crocker's win was complemented by his young team-mate Eli Evans who finished a fantastic second on his debut for the Les Walkden Rally Team. Subaru's took first -second and third with Japan's Yanigaisawa bringing the Cusco Subaru home in third after some initial problems, including a major roll-over during testing.

Katsuhiko Taguchi
Katsuhiko Taguchi in the MRF Mitsubishi looked like making a promising start to his Asia Pacific campaign, holding a comfortable 2nd over-night, but then on the first stage of the 2nd leg dropped from 2nd position to 4th with turbo problems. "We are lucky as we had a turbo problem and our engine oil is almost gone, but we made it back to service. The mechanics did a great job to change the turbo in a 20-minute service break - perfect job. We lost a lot of time and dropped from 2nd to 4th position, however we still picked up 7 points for the weekend - lucky seven!! Mark (Stacey) and I worked well this weekend, the car went well and we're looking forward to next event in New Caledonia".

Rifat Sungkar from Indonesia bought his Mitsubishi home in 5th on his Asia-Pacific debut." Our goal was to finish and learn and we have achieved this and we're looking forward to the next events. Its so fantastic to drive on such fast roads". Sungkar's young team-mate Subhan Aksa was one of two retirees. Aksa over-shot a corner on the slippery first stage and couldn't extract himself from the sand. However he was able to restart on Day 2 and get valuable mileage.

Rifat Sungkar
For Finland's Jarkko Miettinen in the 2nd MRF Mitsubishi it was a debut and event to forget - yet for all that, Jarkko showed he could be a contender for the APRC crown with some very fast times on unfamiliar roads, a new team and new tyres. Near the end of day Miettinen was only 26 seconds away from Crocker and had beat him on stage 4, the long and fast Millpost 1. But then on stage 6 Miettenen disappeared off the time sheets - a gear-selector broke and he was left on the side of the road with no drive. After repairs he was re-entered for Day 2 to get some bonus points and slotted into the running order behind his team-mate Taguchi. When Taguchi was slowed by his turbo problems he created a blanket of dust, that Miettinen quickly caught. Early morning sun, dust and no wind meant pockets of zero visibility and that's what caught Miettiene out, catapulting over a steep bank after completely missing a fast corner. " We were probably going abit too fast and missed the corner" said a dejected Miettiene to the TV cameras. Considerable damage was done to the car, but Racetorque are hoping to have the car fully repaired and on the boat to New Caledonia."

The next round of the championship is next month on the tropical island of New Caledonia at Easter weekend. PHOTOGRAPHS: Go Here
TELEVISION FOOTAGE: Available from APRC.TV email Brian Young

Subaru Rally of Canberra - APRC results - Sunday March 12, 2006

1 CROCKER, Cody (AUS), ATKINSON, Ben (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX (N4) 2:27:18.6
2 EVANS, Eli (AUS), McADAM, Matt (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX (N4) 2:32:58.5
3 YANAGISAWA , Hiroshi (J), MISAIZU, Tadashi (J) Subaru Impreza WRX (N4) 2:36:26.6
4 TAGUCHI, Katsuhiko (J), STACEY, Mark (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII (N4) 2:38:54.1
5 SUNGKAR, Rifat (RI), HERKUSUMA, M. (RI) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII (N4) 2:42:43.8

Asia-Pacific Rally Championship calendar 2006

10-12 March: Subaru Rally of Canberra
14-16 April: New Caledonia (not competed by LWR)
26-28 May: New Zealand
7-9 July: Hokkaido, Japan
18-20 August: Malaysia
15-17 September: Indonesia
24-26 November: China

MRF Mitsubishi Team Announce Drivers

Mark Stacey (L)   Katsuhiko Taguchi (R)
Last years championship winning MRF Mitsubishi team have announced their drivers for the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi and Australian co-driver Mark Stacey return for a third year and will be joined by Finnish driver Jarkko Miettinen and co-driver Mikko Markkula.

Taguchi returns to the APRC with extensive knowledge of the unique mixture of conditions that are part of a rally series run over two continents and where the temperatures range from freezing to frying!! Taguchi has showed many times in the past 2 years he has the outright speed to regain the APRC crown that he won in 1999 and with outright wins in Hokkaido (2005) and China (2004) knows he has the ability to take the championship title.

Mikko Markkula (L) and Jarkko Miettinen (R)
While new to the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Miettinen has a wealth of Group N experience and top results from rallying in WRC events in Finland, Sweden and even the Mexican rally championship. The Finn consistently won the Group N category in last years very competitive Finnish Rally Championship and had an outright win on the international 2005 Lahti Rally. Miettinen will be partnered by co-driver Mikko Markkula. The pair have rallied together for 6 years and in 2005 Markkula gained further expertise as a factory co-driver with the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team.

As in previous years the MRF Mitsubishi team will be run by RaceTorque and managed by Lane Heenan. Beginning the year in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's, the team hope to have the latest Evo 9's for the 3rd round in Rotorua.

The Indonesians are Coming

Two teams from Indonesia have joined the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship and both will start their campaigns at the first round in Canberra in March,running Mitsubishi Lancers under the joint banner of The Indonesia Rally Team.
Rifat Sungkar
Rifat Sungkar is the most experienced of the two young drivers, with international rallying in Malaysia, Thailand and Australia. During a recent interview Rifat said, "We're really happy that local sponsor Pertamina (Indonesia State Oil company) has given us the opportunity to drive in six rounds of the 2006 APRC - we'll do all rounds except Japan. Last year I did the Malaysian Championship and finished 2nd overall and this year will be a totally new experience. I have no idea yet, what to expect - but I'm sure it will be both fun and interesting".

Subhan Aksa
Subhan Aksa at 19 years old, maybe young but he has 4 years Rallying experience behind him and he won't be fazed by the international travel as he is currently in his 2nd year of business studies at Hertfordshire University, United Kingdom - and will fly direct to each of the six Events from London. Aksa will be joined by regular co-driver Hade Mboi who is looking looking forward to the experience, "the team view this as a long-term project. We're very excited as this is our first opportunity to enter a championship of the level of APRC. Our main objective is to get as much experience and learn as much as possible". Aksa's team will do all events except for the final round in China.

The Indonesia Rally Team manager will be Jeffrey JP who also runs the Rally of Indonesia and commented 'for rallying in Indonesia this is great news to have a two car team like this compete internationally. This is part of our plan to get the World Championship back to Indonesia, to prove we have both the talent and organisation abilities."

While running jointly under the title Indonesia Rally Team (supported by Gudang Garam International), each rally car will be serviced by separate crews. Rifat Sungkar and his team will be run in the Pacific rounds by New Zealand's Reece Jones Motorsport and for the Asia rounds by Wan Yu Rally Team from China. Subhan Aksa will be run throughout the championship by Neil Allport Motorsport from New Zealand.
Aksa (left) and Sungkar (Right)

Malaysia Bid for WRC

Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib
The Malaysian government today (Thursday) announced an ambitious bid to host a round of the World Rally Championship within two years!! At a glitzy launch in the nations capital Kuala Lumpur, the Deputy Prime Minster Dato Sri Mohd Najib announced that that the nations largest palm-oil producer Felda, a government owned company would sponsor the Malaysian Rally championship and at the same time promote and build the infrastructure required to run a World Rally Championship event in Malaysia.

"We'll be running the events in close consultation with the world body, with no compromises in the high standard required and select the best region for the World Rally Championships." said Deputy Prime Minster at the launch. The first round of the national series sponsored by Felda will be held in Pahang in the east of Malaysia on March 24-26, while the international Malaysia Rally will take place August 18-20th as round 5 of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

The idea of leveraging the Felda name through car rallying came from the Deputy Prime Minister himself. Felda can provide the rally competition roads within thousands of hectares of palm-oil plantations and at the same time promote the name and brand to worldwide TV audiences. Felda currently accounts for 7.5% of the total palm oil production in the world.

Subaru Challenge for 2006 APRC

Cody Crocker (right) & co-driver Dale Moscatt
With current Australian Rally Champion Cody Crocker and Eli Evans the winner of the 2005 Subaru RS Challenge about to confirm their entries in the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Subaru looks to have a championship challenging team for the seven country series. With cars prepared by Les Walkden Rallying the Australian team has the drivers, the cars and the team to take on last year champions Mitsubishi.

Hiroshi Yanagisawa
To further strengthen Subaru's title hopes, there is an entry from Cusco Racing lead by Japanese driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa. The Cusco team has competed in 3-4 APRC events in the past but never enough to qualify as an APRC entrant. Cusco have the experience to mount a serious challenge and Yanigsawa is no stranger to the podium on international events - with several top finishes in New Zealand and a 3rd outright in China last year.

As yet there is no announcement from Mitsubishi, although an entry is expected from last years champion MRF Mitsubishi team with Japanese driver Katsu Taguchi to return. A major challenge has been confirmed by a leading Indonesian team with confirmation of drivers and cars due very soon. It seems likely that the Chinese Wan Yu Rally team will make a welcome return with Kan Chi Hong and Fan Fan, plus a number of kiwi drivers are yet to reveal their 2006 plans.

Walkden walks from Australian Championship

Les Walkden Rallying (LWR) has decided not to take part in the Australian Rally Championship in 2006 and the Tasmanian-based rally team will instead opt to compete in the Asia Pacific Championship.

The withdrawal of LWR from the domestic championship follows the recent move by the Australian Rally Commission (ARCom) to impose a Manufacturers' levy on the team because it was receiving sponsorship support from Subaru.

LWR, which operated as a satellite team for Subaru in 2005, has been declared a pseudo-Manufacturer by ARCom. Subaru Australia announced its withdrawal from the Australian Championship after winning a tenth consecutive national driver's title, declaring that it would pursue tarmac options in the future.

However, Subaru had some remaining obligations in rallying in 2006, including its agreement with LWR to run a satellite team, which involved a drive for a selected competitor from the 2005 Subaru Rally Challenge.

The ruling by ARCom has left LWR with no choice but to leave the ARC.

Walkden has decided that he will instead take his team to a championship where he can compete on equal footing with the other competitors and on a cost-effective basis.

"In the past few years, I, like so many others, have put an enormous amount of my own money into the Australian Rally Championship," Walkden said. "I did it because I wanted to, and I was keen to do so again in 2006, but the decision to rule me effectively a manufacturers' team leaves me with no option but to pursue our rallying goals in other championships."

"I am baffled how Les Walkden Rallying can be classified as a manufacturers' team, just because I have support from Subaru. It was the same last year, and yet they were happy to call me a privateer and presented us with the Privateers' Cup."

"Yes, Subaru have increased their support in 2006, but it is still very much a sponsor role, with LWR finding the rest of the cash."

"Surely no-one who knows anything about the sport is going to compare our operation with that of Toyota, Ford or Mitsubishi. Last time I looked, Les Walkden Rallying wasn't a publicly listed company on any stock exchange in the world, and nor do we manufacture cars."

"It takes our effort, our money, just to get to the starting line. I have to run a two car team, and Subaru's support only makes up a small part of the overall cost. The rest comes from other sponsors as well as Les Walkden, and that needs to produce a return on the investment."

"The rally enthusiast, the rally volunteer, the rally competitor, the event organizers, the event sponsors and the rally spectators must question the workings of ARCom. In just one year they have lost the series sponsor, the longest serving manufacturer team, the longest serving privateer team, the most successful junior series ever and there is no longer an event in NSW which happens to be the most populous state in Australia. There doesn't seem to be a lot of focus on the customer", says Walkden.

2006 APRC Series

With the first event in Canberra, Australia, only 7 weeks away, entries and interest for the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship is growing and in February we will report on teams and drivers as they confirm their entries. There is plenty of good news to report (and some pleasant surprises), however in all cases we are waiting for individual teams to make their own announcements prior to any news appearing on this website.


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 was 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 were 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).


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