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2006
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship

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FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 2: RALLYE DE NOUVELLE CALEDONIE
VICTORY AND APRC POINTS LEAD FOR MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION  
16 APRIL 2006 LEG 2 RELEASE
FINAL RESULTS

Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
 

Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
 

Jarkko Miettinen / Mikko Markkula
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
 
 
Katsuhiko Taguchi totally dominated this weekends International Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie in the MRF Tyres group N Misubishi Lancer Evolution. The Japanese driver not only took outright victory but won both legs of the 2nd round of the 2006 FIA Asia-Paciifc Rally Championship giving Mitsubishi and himself a clear lead in the Championship race. Based on the beautiful Pacific island of New Caledonia, the event started on Friday evening in warm conditions finishing two days later in the capital city of Noumea.

After the start ceremony, the first competitive stage was a Super-special held at the "Hippodrome", where Katsuhiko Taguchi immediately took the fastest time in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Early the next morning competitors drove 200km north of Noumea, where they would tackle 9 stages and 156 km of competitive rally stages. The weather was fine, but overnight rain had left the course wet and treacherous giving drivers a hard time interpreting the road conditions. Taguchi was cautious on Saturdays opening stage (SS2) allowing his Finnish MRF team-mate Jarkko Miettinen, also driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, to take fastest time and the rally lead. On the next longer (24.5km) and rougher stage (SS3), Taguchi turned on the heat beating his team-mate by 4 seconds and it looked like the MRF Tyre duo were set for a great battle. However on SS4 the unexpected happen when the Miettinen rolled his car at a slow hairpin and as a result of the damage sustained the Finn was forced to retire.

Now it was up to Taguchi to keep up the pace and avoid meeting the same fate as his teammate. When it came to speed, Taguchi had no rivals at this point and he opted to play it safe. Nevertheless, he managed to set the fastest times in all remaining stages for Leg 1 and headed back to Noumea with a comfortable six minute lead. Unfortunately Sundayís Leg 2 had been reduced to only one stage due to safety problems. The one remaining stage was a repeat of Friday nights Super-Special and as it comprised the whole leg, the 3.75 km stage was worth 3 points to the fastest APRC driver. With such a big lead Taguchi could have taken it easy, but instead he gave it all and showed considerable skill and speed to win the superspecial by 1 second from his nearest rival Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar also driving a Mitsubishi. By winning both Legs 1 and 2 Taguchi took the maximum 16 APRC points and now leads the driversí championship with 23 points.

After the event Taguchi commented, "The first day Saturday, was really tough but I concentrated on driving no matter what kind of road conditions were waiting. After Jarko (Miettinen) retired I took it easy but kept up the pace and Iím really happy that I won. Last year I damaged the radiator fan when going through the river but this year I was ready and I did not encounter any trouble. I'm going to skip the 3rd round, the Rally of Rotorua this year but I'll be back on the 4th event the Rally Hokkaido. I won that event last year so of course I hope to put all my effort into taking a 2nd consecutive victory."

Seven APRC registered drivers participated in the Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie and all drove Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions. Rifat Sungkar from Indonesia took 2nd (4th overall) after a great drive on only his second APRC event. New Zealand's Dermont Malley and wife Linzi were 3rd in APRC, (5th overall) followed by Fan Fan from China. First to seventh place in the final results were filled by Mitsubishi Lancers.

The next round of the APRC is the Rally of Rotorua (May 26-28) in New Zealand.


 FINAL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Vehicle Grp
Pos
Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
AP
Katsuhiko Taguchi
Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
1
1:47:30.0 **:**.*
2 Patrick Yanai
Franck Guillermet
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
2
1:50:03.0 +2:33.0
3 Patrick Christian
Frederic Perraud
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI N
3
1:50:33.0 +3:03.0
4
AP
Rifat Sungkar
M Herkusuma
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
4
1:53:57.0 +6:27.0
5
AP
Dermott Malley
Linzi Malley
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
5
1:59:26.0 +11:56.0
6
AP
Fan Fan
Jun Wei Fang
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N
6
2:00:02.0 +12:32.0
7
AP
Subhan Aksa
Hade Mboi
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
7
2:00:51.0 +13:21.0
8 Julien Lenglet
Karin Galinie
Subaru Impreza N
8
2:08:12.0 +20:42.0



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