Double blow for Team MRF in APRC
Johor, Malaysia -Team MRF from India drew a blank as both their Skoda Fabia S2000 cars driven by championship leader Esapekka Lappi (co-driver Janne Ferme) and Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneall) retired in the fourth round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) that saw only one finisher in Michael Young (Malcolm Read) here Sunday.
The dominance of the MRF Skoda team ended Saturday during the Leg 1 run. After enjoying victories in the last three rounds of the Championship, the two MRF Skodas fell victims to the punishing Malaysian terrain.
First to go was Gill in SS-4 — he hit a stump and was stuck. Lappi got off to a tough start when he made a lot of mistakes on SS-2 and trailed Gill by a minute. However, the Finn’s rally ended midway in SS-5 when his engine seized.
Also bowing out was India’s Sanjay Takale (Sean Gregory) in a Subaru Impreza which expired in SS-5 when running in fourth position with a fan belt failure.
With other APRC-registered competitors also retiring due to various problems, it left Young as the sole runner in this category.
It was a drew result for New Zealander Young who drove a Toyota Vitz RS for Cusco Racing. Knowing that the rally was his to win, he drove the final 89km of competitive stages Sunday as steady as he could to go into the APRC history books as the youngest outright winner of an APRC round.
Apart from Young, who ran away with the outright APRC win, there were three other survivors registered in the Asia Cup category.
Japanese Shuhei Muta of Cusco Racing, Thailand’s Chaiyan Longton (Suzuki Swift) and the EVO X of Japanese Tomohide Hasegawa who admitted this year’s Rally was the toughest they have ever encountered.