Team MRF set to dominate again
Noumea (New Caledonia), May 14 (IANS)
This weekend's second round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship presents a new challenge for Team MRF drivers Pontus Tidemand and Gaurav Gill, but they are hoping for another strong finish.
Driving their Skoda Fabia S2000s, the pair finished first and second in the first round of the championship in New Zealand in April, and will be hoping for a similar result on the small Pacific island event.
Swedish driver, Tidemand (co-driver Emil Axelsson), dominated the first round on his APRC debut, while his Indian teammate Gill (Glenn Macneall) recovered well from earlier problems to snatch second place on the last stage of the Rally of Whangarei.
"It is always great to get a good start to the season," Tidemand said ahead of another debut event for the 24-year-old.
"We aim to help AKODA take home the championship title in the APRC and to score points early makes it easier for the rest of the series.
"This year consists of many new experiences since every event is completely new for me, and Rally New Caledonia is no exception.
"Our biggest goal this weekend is to make it all the way to the finish line and, of course, to do it as best as we can with a result as good as possible. I look forward to another challenge!"
Gill has won Rally New Caledonia twice, in 2012 and 2013, and finished in second place last year. The 2013 Asia-Pacific champion is determined to reclaim his event title this year and, in doing so, bridge the gap on his younger team-mate.
The team will also run a third Skoda Fabia S2000, for New Caledonian star Jean Louis Leyraud (Scott Beckwith), who is currently second in the Pacific Cup behind Tidemand.
Team manager for Team MRF, Lane Heenan, said: "We had a great start to the season in New Zealand with a 1-2 result, and we're confident of a similar showing this weekend.
"New Caledonia is always a tough event. The road conditions can be very rough, and if it's wet it throws another variable into the equation.
"However, the combination of the Skoda Fabia, MRF Tyres and two of the best drivers in the world should stand us in good stead."
Team MRF's main opposition in the Rally New Caledonia will come from Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, and from local drivers Emmanuel Guigou (Renault Clio) and Eric Riandet (Peugeot 207).
Rally New Caledonia is located to the west side of the main island, Grande Terre.
Friday's start ceremony and the first two stages, a super special run twice, takes place near Noumea.
On Saturday and Sunday, the event moves north and the remaining stages will be run in the area between Poya and Farino, with the service park in Bourail. In total, competitors will face 16 special stages totalling 245kms.