Rally of Rotorua / FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Round 3 of 8
17 - 19 June 2005

MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION DRIVER VALIMAKI EXTENDS ASIA-PACIFIC LEAD
Välimäki and Taguchi second and third of the registered contenders
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers take six of the top 10 places in Rotorua

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Jarkko Kalliolepo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Jussi Välimäki claimed second of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contenders in the Rally of Rotorua, the third round of the series. The Finn extends his lead in the series and now has 18 points in hand to nearest rival and fellow Lancer Evolution driver Geoffrey Argyle.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Jarkko Kalliolepo
Välimäki’s Team MRF Tyre team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi claimed third of the contenders and holds fourth in the Championship standings.

The International Rally of Rotorua was hosted in what has been viewed as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful cities, famous for its rock pools and hot geysers. The event kicked off with a ceremonial start in downtown Rotorua on Friday June 17 and was immediately followed by the opening stages of leg one.

After the competitive action on Saturday and Sunday, the crews arrived back at the finish in Rotorua on Sunday afternoon, having completed a total of 10 stages and 251.28 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 756.74 kilometers.

The event also included the 47.38 kilometer Motu stage (SS 4), infamous when it was a feature of the FIA WRC event. It is the first time in many years the road has been run as one stage and is likely to be one of the longest stages in any FIA international event.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
Ten of the registered FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contenders contested the mid-winter wet event and Välimäki held fourth overall by the end of the first full day of competition on Saturday. The Finn went into the last day with a cautious approach, being that he was nearly two minutes adrift of outright leader Toshihiro Arai and had a clear advantage over Taguchi. Positions remained unchanged in today’s final leg, and Välimäki finished fourth overall, second the registered crews.

"The stages were very slippery and we had a few ’moments’ and damaged the tires", said Välimäki, who won the last round in New Caledonia. "The car handled fine though and it’s good to maintain our lead in the series".

Team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi climbed from seventh today to finish fifth overall, third of the registered contenders.

"It was very very muddy and slippery, but I quite like these conditions", said Taguchi. "We had a moment in the first stage, going too fast into a corner and ended up in a ditch. We were lucky not to hit any rocks and be able to get out with damage though".

The fourth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the crews to Japan for Rally Hokkaido (July 22-24).

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Toshihiro Arai A / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:54:31.5    
 Richard Mason / Hamish Fenemor NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:56:17.0  1:45.5 
 Jussi Välimäki A / Jarkko Kalliolepo FIN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:57:00.9  2:29.4 
 Katsuhiko Taguchi A / Mark Stacey J/AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:58:33.9  4:02.4 
 Hiroshi Yanagisawa / Tadashi Misaizu J  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:59:13.7  4:42.2 
 Brett Martin / Raymond Bennett NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 2:59:33.4  5:01.9 
 Chris West / Garry Cowan NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 2:59:34.3  5:02.8 
 Glenn Smith / Colin Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:00:14.5  5:43.0 
 Dean Sumner / Jeff Cress NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:00:36.7  6:05.2 
10   Geoffrey Argyle A / Jane Black NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:01:01.6  6:30.1 
11   Sam Murray / Stuart Jenkinson NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 3:03:08.3  8:36.8 
12   Dylan Turner / Sandeep Bansal NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:03:10.0  8:38.5 
13   Grant Barber / Bede O'Connor NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:11:47.0  17:15.5 
14   Dermott Malley A / Stephen Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:13:12.6  18:41.1 
15   Brian Green A / Fleur Pedersen NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:15:09.4  20:37.9 
16   Patrick Christian / Frédéric Perraud F  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:21:21.2  26:49.7 
17   Mitsuhiro Kunisawa A / Simone Bachmann J/AUS  Subaru Impreza WRX N/4 3:22:37.2  28:05.7 
18   Brent Taylor / Chris Ramsay NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:24:55.6  30:24.1 
19   Chee Hong Kan A / Bernard Chin CN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:25:29.6  30:58.1 
20   Julien Lenglet A / Karin Galinie F  Honda Integra N/4 3:26:16.5  31:45.0 
21   Fan Fan A / Yong He CN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3:32:22.3  37:50.8 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia / CN=China / F=France / FIN=Finland / J=Japan / NZ=New Zealand /
A: drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points