Jul 14, 2012
MR12/FIA-APRC : RALLY BIG GUNS READY FOR SHOWDOWN IN JOHOR
13 JULY 2012, JOHOR BAHRU- As the big guns of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) gather in Johor Bahru for the Malaysian leg of the championship, the gravel roads of the Tai Tak Estate, is expected to test the resolve and skills plus the patience of the competitors, to their very limit.
And they know things could change overnight on a venue where little mistakes could be punished severely but huge rewards could be reaped if things go your way.
And that's where the likes of Australia's Chris Atkinson, the championship leader, is hoping to thrive on.
Driving a Skoda S2000, Atkinson is the leader after three rounds of the championship in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia with a total of 101 points and he knows too well of the task confronting him this weekend.
After all he was part of the Malaysian Proton Motorsports Team two years ago which swept the field to win the title at the very same venue.
"It has always been a very challenging venue. More so when it rains. But whatever the conditions, I am hoping for a podium finish," said Atkinson who will have Belgian Stephane Prevot as his co-driver.
Atkinson leads the championship on a total of 101 points with India's Guarav Gill second on 63 pts and New Zealand's Brian Green, third on 52 pts.
Then come the Proton Motorsports driver Alister McRae in his Proton Satria Neo 2000 who is lying joint fourth together with Sweden's Per-Gunnar Anderson on 48 pts each.
But expect a stiff challenge from Green's Subaru Impreza and McRae too.
Especially McRae who has the experience of driving under such trying conditions of the gravel track of the Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi where a slight mistake could inflict heavy punishment.
As Malaysia's leading rally driver Karamjit Singh said: The Tai Tak Estate can be a very unforgiving venue. More so if it rains. But if it stays dry than it can be very rewarding especially those with a powerful car.
Karamjit with co-driver Vivek Ponusamy have been entered for the race with a Proton Satria Neo under the Proton R3 Cusco team instead of his usual turbo-charged Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI which he normally drives in the Malaysian Rally Championship.
"But whatever the make of the car I am determined to have a go at the championship," said Karamjit.
A total of 16 cars have been entered for the APRC championship and 21 cars for the Johor Bahru round of the Malaysian Rally Championship; which will run simultaneously.
All eyes will be on China's Fan Fan who will be behind the wheels of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X where he will be defending his Malaysian Rally title he won at the very same venue last year.
Driving under the GSR Air Asia Rally Team, Fan Fan was supposed to have raced at the Kangar leg of the Malaysian Rally last month but because of his car's late Customs clearance, he was denied the opportunity.
"But everything is solved now. I am looking forward to the Johor Bahru leg of the Malaysian Rally," said Fan Fan. And for the first time in the championship, the organisers have decided to hold a 2.5 km Special Stage race at the Plaza Angsana under the floodlights.