Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie / FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship - Round 2 of 6
Communique 2 30 May 2004 Leg 2

MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION DRIVERS 1st & 2nd IN NEW CALEDONIA
Argyle takes victory
Mitsubishi driver Kremer takes APRC series lead
Mitsubishi leads Manufacturers’ Championship

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Geof Argyle / Steve Smith
(Leg 2 - 30 May 2004)

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Geof Argyle took an emphatic victory in the Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie, winning the event by one minute and 52 seconds over fellow Lancer Evolution driver and reigning Asia-Pacific Rally Champion Armin Kremer. German-born Kremer’s second position was, however, enough to take the series lead after two of the six events and he now holds a narrow but significant two-point advantage over rival Karamjit Singh.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Armin Kremer / Timo Gottschalk
(Leg 2 - 30 May 2004)
The small island of New Caledonia, nestled in the Pacific Ocean to the east of Australia, played host to the second round of the series and no fewer than 38 national and international crews started the two-day event. With 10 of the 11 registered FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contenders vying for honors, competition was fierce from the outset and the route, which covered 12 special stages and 223.05 competitive kilometers, provided a mix of challenging conditions.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Armin Kremer, who finished the opening round in Canberra second of the series contenders, dominated the opening leg and claimed four stage wins. After setting fastest time in the opening stage of the second leg however, the German suffered differential problems and was forced to struggle through stage eight with only rear wheel drive for more than 23 kilometers. With additional penalties in service, the German dropped to sixth but mounted a huge come-back only to drop more time with a puncture in the last stage. Despite stopping to change the wheel, the Lancer Evolution driver powered to the finish in second position and takes the series lead after just two events.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Armin Kremer / Timo Gottschalk
(Leg 2 - 30 May 2004)
"We lost the lead because of technical problems but after a big fight managed to get back into contention for the lead", commented Kremer. "But then we had a puncture in the last stage which cost us the victory. But we can be happy because we are leading the series, Karamjit (Singh) retired with engine problems and we are in a good position at the moment".

Kremer’s team-mate and 1999 Asia-Pacific Rally Champion Katsuhiko Taguchi was forced into retirement in the opening leg. However he fought back in the second to win leg two’s bonus points. He holds fifth in the series classification with rally victor Geof Argyle in third position giving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers first, third and fifth in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship leaderboard. Mitsubishi also has a commanding lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

The third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the crews to New Zealand for the Rally of Rotorua (July 8-10).

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Diff.
1   Geof Argyle A  Steve Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:25:49   
2   Armin Kremer A  Timo Gottschalk D  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:27:41  + 1:52 
 Chris Atkinson A  Benjamin Atkinson AUS  Suzuki IGNIS Super 1600 A/6 2:27:51  + 2:02 
4   Daniel Palau  Thierry Song F  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:28:27  + 2:38 
 Jean-Louis Leyraud  Charly Brinon F  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:29:26  + 3:37 
 Vesa Mikkola A  Risto Niukkanen FIN  Suzuki IGNIS Super 1600 A/6 2:37:11  + 11:22 
 Brian Green A  Fleur Pedersen NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:38:04  + 12:15 
 Claude Clavel  Ludovic Cartot F  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:42:21  + 16:32 
 Nick Marshall  "Tilber" F  Peugeot 106 S16 A/6 2:53:42  + 27:53 
10   Steeve Octobon  Laurent Mitride F  Citroën Saxo A/6 3:00:06  + 34:17 
11   Christian Robelin  Gael Michel-Villaz F  Renault Clio Williams A/7 3:24:56  + 59:07 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia / D=Germany / F=France / FIN=Finland / NZ=New Zealand /
Names underlined followed by A indicate drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points