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13 July 2003
2003 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship / Round 2
Rally of Rotorua

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Advan Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Fumio Nutahara claimed maximum points in New Zealand’s Rally of Rotorua, the second round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and has taken the lead in the series after a nail-biting battle to the finish. The Japanese driver finished second overall, highest of the Championship contenders, and holds a five point advantage over German Lancer Evolution driver Armin Kremer.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Held in the heart of New Zealand’s winter months, the twisty mountains roads were awash with melting snow and ice from a freak storm earlier in the week, making conditions treacherously slippery for the competing crews. Nutahara however got on the pace immediately, a measured drive and clever choice of tires enabling him to set fastest time on the opening stage of the event, the famous Motu. The Japanese kept his cool amid a host of more experienced drivers, leading the Asia-Pacific contenders throughout the event, until the third leg when a hard-charging Karamjit Singh mounted a serious assault.

Singh, the defending FIA Production Car World Rally Champion, overhauled Nutahara during the final day of competition but the two were neck and neck throughout the leg, exchanging the lead in the battle for maximum Asia-Pacific Championship points. Going into the final stage, Singh held half a second advantage over Nutahara but the Japanese driver powered his Lancer Evolution through the 9.75 kilometer stage, sensing victory was within sight.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Remarkably, after nearly three and a half hours of competition, the pair reached the finish tied in second position, Nutahara ultimately taking the maximum Asia-Pacific Championship points having claimed the fastest time in the opening stage of the rally.

"I am very, very happy with the result in this rally as there are many fast local drivers", said an overwhelmed Fumio Nutahara. "It is unbelievable to have tied with Karamjit! Overall, I am very happy".

Nutahara’s achievement was all the more impressive, being that he was competing in Mitsubishi’s standard production car, whereas Singh was driving a more powerful Group A version, badged as a Proton Pert.

The FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship contenders now have a long break until the third of the six round series. Nutahara will be back on home territory when he contests the Rally of Hokkaido on Japan’s northern island (September 12-14), another gravel event which is also muted for inclusion in next year’s FIA World Rally Championship.


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Total Time Difference
 Bruce Herbert / Rob Ryan NZ  Subaru Impreza   
 Fumio Nutahara* / Satoshi Hayashi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 1.50.3 
 Karamjit Singh* / Allen Oh MAL  Proton Pert  + 1.50.3 
 Andrew Hawkeswood* / Paul Fallon NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 2.11.8 
 Richard Mason / Hamish Fenemor NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 3.58.0 
 Armin Kremer* / Fred Berssen D  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 4.25.2 
 Glenn Smith / Colin Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 4.38.5 
 Domenico Caldarola* / Paolo Cecchini I  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 6.34.8 
 Lewis Scott / Mike Reid NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 7.17.3 
10   David Doppelreiter* / Ola Floene A/N  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 7.38.3 
11   Mark Tapper / Jeff Judd NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 9.53.9 
12   Nikolaus Schelle / Gerhard Weiss D  Suzuki Ignis Super 1600  + 10.51.9 
13   Daynom Templeman / Kingsley Jones NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 12.04.7 
14   John Lloyd / Pauline Gullick GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 12.37.0 
15   Rex Vizible / Dave Robb NZ  Subaru Impreza STI  + 14.01.1 
16   Dean Sumner / Bede O’Connor NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 16.09.3 
17   Brian Green* / Fleur Pedersen NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 16.51.6 
18   Malcolm Stewart / Mike Fletcher NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 17.29.4 
19   Atsushi Masumura* / Yuichi Sasaki J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 19.27.1 
20   Grant Barber / Len Fisher NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 19.27.6 
21   Geof Argyle* / Steve Smith NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 19.31.9 
22   Lloyd Owen / Warren Algie NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 20.04.3 
23   John Giltrap / Grant Marra NZ  Subaru Impreza WRX  + 21.20.9 
24   Takemi Matsuno / Akio Nakata J  Subaru Impreza  + 27.39.9 
25   Dmitry Lagunov / Steve Wilcock RUS/NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 40.45.6 
26   Andrei Lagunov / Tania Styles RUS/NZ  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution  + 41.44.2 
* Drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points
A=Austria/ D=Germany/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ J=Japan/ MAL=Malaysia/ N=Norway/ NZ=New Zealand/ RUS=Russia/