Rallye de Nouvelle-CalÚdonie / FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Round 2 of 8
20 - 22 May 2005

VALIMAKI TAKES SECOND VICTORY WITH MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION
Lancer Evolution drivers take top four positions

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Jarkko Kalliolepo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Jussi Välimäki claimed maximum points in the second round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship - the Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie - his second victory from two outings this season. The Finn took the outright lead when Team MRF Tyre team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi hit problems in the second leg.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Jarkko Kalliolepo
Round two of the 2005 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship took the crews to the small island of New Caledonia, nestling in the Pacific Ocean to the east of Australia. Of the 13 crews entered, eight were registered in the series, but the 19 special stages provided a mix of challenging conditions for the contenders, with torrential rain during the opening leg.

It was an event where most of the crews hit problems at one time or another and Välimäki had his share, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver losing time in the first leg with a broken front differential. Despite repairs in service, the Finn was unable to catch team-mate Taguchi, who was the class of the field in similar machinery, until forced into retirement.

"It was a very tough event, we learnt a lot and one of those is patience, you never know what is going to happen", said Välimäki at the finish. "There was so much rain, it was so wet and slippery and it was difficult to catch Katsuhiko, so we have a tactic to wait and see what’s going to happen. Then my team-mate had an engine problem. For us it’s victory again. I am happy so let’s try and make it a hat-trick and win the next event in Rotorua, because I enjoy and know very well the New Zealand roads".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Katsuhiko Taguchi ended the opening leg with a comfortable 40 second lead and was set to romp to his first 2005 victory. However, in SS13, the car overheated and the Japanese was forced out of the event.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Chee Hong Kan / Bernard Chin
"We were driving quite slowly in the second leg, because of our lead, but on stage 13 we noticed the temperature going up, but we got to the end of the stage", said Taguchi. "After that we discovered the radiator fan was broken and there was a hole in the radiator. We couldn’t re-start the engine again and we were out. I think my luck is in another country at the moment - I have to finish the next event in New Zealand".

In a surprise second position was Malaysian based Kan Chee Hong and co-driver Bernard Chin, entered with the Wan Yu Rally Team from China. Normally used to driving in the wet and slippery Malaysian jungles, the conditions were not a problem to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver, but the fast New Caledonian stages were something completely new. "The roads are slippery, the same as in Malaysia, but here the speed is so fast", said Kan. "We didn’t expect to get a good result; I just came here for the experience as we must save the car for the next rounds in New Zealand and Japan.

After problems in the opening leg - when a hose became disconnected from the intercooler - Geoffrey Argyle eventually finished on the podium, in third, in similar Mitsubishi machinery.

"We’re really happy with our result, after losing 7-8 minutes with the intercooler pipe problem", said Argyle. "We’ve got another good haul of points for the championship. The next rally is our home event and we can and will do well there".

Fourth went to Kan’s team-mate, Chinese driver Fan Fan. Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, Fan drove a controlled event at his own pace and reaped the rewards.

The third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the crews to New Zealand for the Rally of Rotorua (June 17-19).

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Jussi Välimäki A / Jarkko Kalliolepo FIN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:23:11   
 Jean-Louis Leyraud / Cyril Brinon F  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:24:05  54 
 Patrick Christian / Frédéric Perraud F  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:30:41  7:30 
 Eugène Creugnet / François Caillard F  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:30:43  7:32 
 Chee Hong Kan A / Bernard Chin CN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:32:34  9:23 
 Geoffrey Argyle A / Jane Black NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:36:09  12:58 
 Yves Lefevre / Philippe Delrieu F  Subaru Impreza N/4 2:44:38  21:27 
 Fan Fan A / Yong He CN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:45:50  22:39 
 Julien Lenglet A / Karin Galinie F  Honda Integra N/4 2:50:40  27:29 
   Katsuhiko Taguchi A / Mark Stacey J/AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Brian Green A / Fleur Pedersen NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Dermott Malley A / Stephen Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
   Daniel Palau / Thierry Song F  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 R 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia / CN=China / F=France / FIN=Finland / J=Japan / NZ=New Zealand /
A: drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points - R: Retired