Rally of Canberra / FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Round 1 of 8
22 - 24 April 2005

VALIMAKI TAKES APRC VICTORY IN MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Jarkko Kalliolepo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Jussi Välimäki claimed maximum FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship points in the Rally of Canberra, the opening round of the series. New Zealander Geof Argyle finished second of the registered contenders and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers took the top four positions in the championship chase.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Geoffrey Argyle / Jeremy Sinclair
This year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes in eight events in eight different countries, each with its own unique cultural and rallying characteristics. Registered crews must undertake to participate in a minimum of three events in Asia and two in the pacific region, with scores from six of the eight events counting towards the series title. The championship is very much run in line with the FIA World Rally Championship, with organizers incorporating the ’cloverleaf’ format where cars return to a central base each evening, as well as the points-scoring system of 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point for first to eighth positions respectively. The series also runs to SUPERally regulations, where bonus points are awarded for the results in each leg, and any retired crews can re-start the subsequent leg.

The opening round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship took place in Australia’s national capital and saw seven of the 19 crews registered in the series take part. Both legs on Saturday and Sunday included 10 special stages in the hills to the west of Canberra, with leg one marginally the longest at 135.71 competitive kilometers. In total, the event took in 20 stages based around the Sutton Driver Training Center service park, and 265.44 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 774.62 kilometers.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Brian Green / Fleur Pedersen
In the opening day Välimäki claimed a narrow lead after a fierce battle with Japan’s Toshihiro Arai. The Finnish Team MRF Tire driver, in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, overhauled Arai in the penultimate stage to take a 1.8 second advantage into the second day of competition. In the second leg, the Finn struck trouble when he hit a log dragged onto the road and he was forced to run for another 40 kilometers with a badly handling car. As a consequence, the Lancer Evolution driver lost his lead to Arai but, after repairs in service, was able to attack to the end. At the finish, Välimäki - in only his first event with Team MRF Tire - finished second of the APRC contenders, just six seconds adrift of Arai, but was promoted to first when the Japanese driver’s Subaru was excluded for technical infringements.

"This was a good first rally with a new team, new car and new tires and I’m very happy with the result", said Välimäki. "I am sure with some more time we can get faster".

After a mixed opening leg, in which he suffered a puncture after hitting a rock, New Zealander Geof Argyle finished third of the FIA APRC contenders in similar Lancer Evolution machinery. During Sunday’s final day of competition, Argyle was happy to settle for third and all-important championship points, but he too was elevated up the leaderboard following Arai’s exclusion.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
"The gap was too big to the next competitor; it wasn’t worth risking the car. I kept a conservative pace to save our gear which means we won’t have much work to do before the next event", said second-placed Argyle, who is looking forward to defending his title at the next event the Rally of New Caledonia - an event he won last year.

Argyle’s Lancer Evolution team-mate Brian Green finished third of the contenders after a trouble-free run. "Apart from dust it was a good weekend", he said. "Everything feels quite good, even though it took a while to get used to the gearbox, but I’m now on top of that and we’ve been able to have a great time".

Dermott Malley, another New Zealander, took fourth of the series contenders in his Lancer Evolution. "It is such a beautiful car to drive - I love it!!"

Japan’s Katsuhiko Taguchi - Välimäki’s Lancer Evolution team-mate - was forced onto the sidelines in the first leg. "We went wide on a corner in SS2 and hit a bank, but carried on to the end of the stage", he said. "At the re-fuel point we noticed a log sticking out of the radiator and then the engine would not re-start". The Japanese re-started the event on Sunday under SUPERally regulations, but was again forced out after a jump at full-speed resulted in a heavy landing and a visit to hospital for precautionary checks. Both Taguchi and co-driver Mark Stacey were however released without injury.

The second round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the contenders to the Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie (May 20-22).

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Cody Crocker / Dale Moscatt AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:55:41.9   
 Dean Herridge / Bill Hayes AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:56:10.8  28.9 
 Juha Kangas / Julia Rabbett AUS  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:57:54.4  2:12.5 
 Jussi Välimäki A / Jarkko Kalliolepo FIN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:58:15.0  2:33.1 
 Scott Pedder / Glen Weston AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:02:08.0  6:26.1 
 Geoffrey Argyle A / Jeremy Sinclair NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:02:32.0  6:50.1 
 Brian Green A / Fleur Pedersen NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:13:33.8  17:51.9 
 Dermott Malley A / Stephen Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:19:17.1  23:35.2 
 Mitsuhiro Kunisawa A / Simone Bachmann J/AUS  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 3:22:43.3  27:01.4 
10   Chris Snell / Jenna Kelley AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:24:50.4  29:08.5 
11   Masaki Yamada A / Masako Sakane J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:25:55.9  30:14.0 
12   Denis Stevens / Amy Stevens AUS  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 3:32:07.1  36:25.2 
   Andrew Pannam / Paul Flintoft AUS  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 R 
   David Hills / David Callaghan AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Satoru Ito / Paul Bennett J/AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Atsushi Masumura / Seiichiro Yayanagi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Toshihiro Arai A / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 E 
   Katsuhiko Taguchi A / Mark Stacey J/AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Brad Goldsbrough / Paul Humm AUS  Subaru Impreza STI N/4 R 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia / FIN=Finland / GB=Great Britain / J=Japan / NZ=New Zealand /
A: drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points - R: Retired - E: Excluded