Buckle up guys! This weekend is going to be an exciting one, with two International Rally Championship rounds held at two different ends of the planet. The opening round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the 5th round of the European Rally Championship is just a few days/hours away!
APRC – Round 1 : International Rally of Whangerai, New Zealand
The opening round for the APRC, Season 2013‘, having stages similar to that ran last year for the WRC. A set of fantastic super-fast-flowing gravel stages awaits for the competitors. However, there are some big & important changes in the competition this year.
Proton Motorsports decided to bow-out of the international motorsport and want to concentrate on their home-ground. After-all it is where their cars have the bigger market and have to impress their potential customers.
Team MRF has joined hands with Skoda Motorsport who will provide the factory support, and in the newly formed joint-venture they have also brought the star driver from Finland, Esapekka Lappi who will be driving one of the two cars. While the Team MRF‘s home grown talent from India, Gaurav Gill will drive another Skoda Fabia S2000.
APRC basically has now been restructured from the formerly Group N production championship, to the next level, where S2000 cars and R4 cars will compete for the overall honours.
Season 2013 will now see the re-introduction of the Production Cup, thus providing the older Group N competitors a chance to win in their own series. Also the FIA has ramped up to encourage the Group N competitors, and have extended many homologations to cater the needs.
This move of FIA with the Production Cup, has encouraged to bring more competitors to the series. Encashing to this opportunity was last year’s 2wd champion driver, India‘s Sanjay Takale who has upgraded to 4WD this year in a Subaru Impreza N4.
“Four-wheel cars are the pinnacle of world rallying. I wanted to begin my APRC pursuits with 2-wheel drive class to get used to the circuits, and it was but natural to graduate to 4-wheel drive in the next season,” says Takale,
He would be in direct competition with the Cusco Team who are dominant since Team MRF switched to S2000‘s. Sanjay Takale adds to his plight explaining, “We don’t have even a single sedan in India with 4-wheel drive, which makes it all the more difficult to get used to a car that is more powerful and needs greater control.“
In the 2WD competition, there is good news as Toyota has entered into the competition, with their flagship model Yaris/Vitz. This was announced last year in October and also we had reported about this intention of their return to the rally stages.