Dec 9, 2011
AN EXCITING FINALE IN JEMPOL
9 December 2011, JEMPOL - Defending champion Rafiq Udhaya and challenger Karamjit Singh are both headed for a nail biting finish over the weekend as the Malaysian Rally 2011 enters it's decisive race in Jempol, Negeri Sembilan.
As things stand, Rafiq and his Subaru Impreza are the current overall leader on 30 points after three rounds of races, Johor Baru, Kangar and Malacca but 11-time winner Karamjit Singh is lying second on 28, a mere two-point difference as they both square off in the fourth and final round.
The rest of the field gathered in Jempol today, totalling 25 all in all, knows they are not going to be able to catch up with the two leaders, given the gap in the points accumalated so far.
Australia's Cody Crocker, a former Asia Pacific Rally Championship winner could have been in contention with the 16 points he has after his performances in Johor Baru and Kangar in the opening two rounds but sponsorship issue has forced him out of the race in Malacca and he is not coming to Jempol either.
Then there is the Japanese combination of Aji Kim and Noriko Takeshita in their Proton Satria Neo who are lying third alongside the young Malaysian pair of Kenneth Koh and Nicole Gill, on 10 points each.
Count them out too because whatever happens, Aji or Kenneth are not going to overhaul the two pace setters, given that there are only a total of 16 points at stake in Jempol.
So the stage is set for a Rafiq versus Karamjit duel and revenge is certainly on their minds.
Rafiq and his co-driver Sean Gregory in their Subaru Impreza, wants to prove that they can get the better of Karamjit and consolidate their reputation as a worthy overall champion.
Karamjit in his Pennzoil-backed Mitsubishi Lancer on the other hand, wants title No 12 to shore up his reputation as the man to beat in Malaysian rallying.
But the one factor that both man has no control over and which could play an important role in deciding which way the title is headed for, is the weather.
The current wet spell is playing on the minds of both competitors and given the experience they endured last year at the same venue, they know that once the skies open up, things are no longer the same.
"I know the conditions are going to be treacherous once it rains. I remember last year we were caught in some very slippery conditions when it started raining.
"The weather man are predicting rain again this time. So we have to be well prepared. I am excited over the prospect of challenging Karamjit for the title.
"He is a good driver and it's obvious that I have to beat him if I want to retain my title," said Rafiq.