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2006
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship

Report

FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 5: MALAYSIAN RALLY
TWO MRF MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION’S ON THE PODIUM  
20 AUGUST 2006 FINAL RELEASE
FINAL RESULTS
OVERALL LEG 1 RESULTS

Jarkko Miettinen / Tuomo Nikkola
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
 

Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
 
MRF Mitsubishi finished a very strong 2nd and 3rd in the 5th round of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the Malaysia Rally held near Johor Baru, South Malaysia. With the event held in Palm Oil plantations only kilometers from the equator, the conditions were hot, steamy and sticky. Humidity is 90%, the ambient temperature 35-40 degrees Celsius and inside the rally cars it can get to 50 degrees!! This makes Malaysia Rally one of the toughest events, and to make conditions even harder for the crews there is the tropical rainstorms, that can dump millions of litres of water onto the stages in a few minutes, turning dusty roads into slippery muddy tracks.

From the start the MRF Mitsubishi team immediately set the pace with Katsu Taguchi winning the first two stages of the event, gambling on running mud tyres after some overnight rain had dampened the roads. However the Japanese drivers lead evaporated a few kilometers into stage 3 when Taguchi and navigator Mark Stacey had to change a punctured tyre in the stage loosing them 4 minutes. Adding to the teams woes was Jarkko Miettinen having a very slow accessed time on Stage 1, after a fellow competitor starting in front of them, crashed and blocked the track and then on stage 2 the Finnish crew suffered a double blow with a mal-functioning turbo that lost further time.

With luck running against them both MRF drivers set about reasserting themselves at the head of the event, regularly setting fastest times on the remaining stages and hauling themselves back into contention. Miettinen, was in second place at the end of Day 1 and while disappointed with his poor start happy to be in the second, "We’ve had a lot of moments today and perhaps some bad luck as well, but happy to be here in a good position my new co-driver and I found a good rhythm in the afternoon stages and we set two fastest times". After his earlier problems Taguchi finished Day 1 in 4th place, but his sights were firmly focussed on catching third placed and fellow Japanese driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa "it was great to lead the event, a pity we had the puncture but now we are 40 seconds off third place and that’s our target for tomorrow and if rain comes anything can happen". Other Mitsubishi drivers doing well in the Malaysian mud were young Subhan Aksa from Indonesia in 5th spot and Dermott Malley holding 7th.

After a rest halt back in the city of Johor Baru, the crews toured back to the stages on Day 2 to find the stages relatively dry and dusty. Taguchi immediately let his intentions be known with fastest overall times for the 1st set of stages and climbing back to third spot. Miettinen was suffering the effects of the previous days heat, but by mid-morning was feeling much better and ready to protect his 2nd spot. The rain stayed away for the remainder of the day and all the Mitsubishi drivers held their positions. Taguchi was fastest driver of the day and picked up 3 valuable points for the winning the leg and raised the question - what might have been, if he’d not had the puncture on the first day. Miettinen had his best finish of the year and was very happy with the development of the car, "the car was very very good, I really like the new Lancer Evo IX. I’ve never driven before in these really hot conditions, that was a small problem for me".

Subhan Aksa held onto his 5th spot for his best finish of 2006 and Dermoot Malley put in a typically determined drive to come 7th.


 FINAL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Vehicle Grp
Pos
Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
AP
Cody Crocker
Ben Atkinson
Subaru Impreza N
1
2:50:43 **:**
2
AP
Jarkko Miettinen
Tuomo Nikkola
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX N
2
2:53:17 +2:34
3
AP
Katsuhiko Taguchi
Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX N
3
2:54:09 +3:26
4
AP
Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Tadashi Misaizu
Subaru Impreza WRX N
4
2:55:37 +4:54
5
 
Rizal Sungkar
Anthony Sarwono
Proton Pert N
5
3:03:17 +12:34
6
AP
Subhan Aksa
Hade Mboi
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
6
3:04:59 +14:16
7
AP
Eli Evans
Chris Murphy
Subaru Impreza WRX N
7
3:07:39 +16:56
8
AP
Dermott Malley
Linzi Malley
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
8
3:18:41 +27:58



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