Young equal to huge challenge claims Team Ezy
Young New Zealander Mike Young who represents Sri Lanka’s leading motor racing team Ezy Racing in the current Asia Pacific Rally Championships (APRC) will have an unenviable task on his hands as the International Rally of Queensland begins here today in the remote village of Imbil, bordering the dense forests surrounding the Lake Borumba.
The 22-year old Young will be up against a immensely talented, experienced and highly accomplished set of opponents as the rally proper begins today following yesterday’s shakedown and ceremonial start of the night.
However, Ezy Racing’s team principal Shafraz Hamzadeen was rather confident of his protégé’s chances at the two-day event which will be the third leg of the prestigious rally series, ranked the highest such competition of the region by International Motor Racing governing body FIA.
“Young is a true champion, performing way beyond his age with an amazingly mature approach to driving. I am certain he will provide a strong challenge to the more powerful cars in the APRC category here. The Cusco Team which backs him up with technical support is a thoroughly professional unit and the combination of Young and his navigator Malcolm Read is a very formidable one. So, the chances of anything going wrong are very small. I am sure Young will punch above his weight and bring honours home,” Hamzadeen told after the ceremonial start held last night at Caloundra town centre.
Young’s biggest threat will come from the extra strong Indian team MRF which pits two of the most powerful rally cars on earth with two champion drivers for this year’s APRC.
The factory supported Skoda Fabia S2000 cars are purpose built rally cars that are capable of smashing the rest of the field into smithereens through their sheer power and pace, and have got two of the strongest drivers in the field too for the bargain.
Swedish World Champion Pontus Tidemand and 2010 APRC Champion Gaurav Gill will drive the two MRF cars and will start off today as the firm favourites. With just three points separating the two champions in the overall standings after three rounds, the event is likely to offer fireworks even within the strongest team.
Tidemand who is presently a Skoda factory driver was the World Junior Rally Champion in 2013 and at the age of 24 is already a two-time Swedish Rally Champion. The tall champion leads the APRC points standings and will start off the rally here as the strong favourite.
Gill, who won the APRC in 2013, is a three-time Indian champion and is the most experienced of the APRC drivers, having taken part in the event for the past six years without a break. Another new entrant, a New Caledonia-based Frenchman Jean-Louis Leyraud, will drive a factory supported Skoda Fabia S2000 similar to the MRF Cars.
However Young who is driving a four-wheel drive machine in competition for the first time this season, has earned the honours of starting third in the line-up in his Subaru Impreza WRX Sti.
Also in the field would be three strong purpose-built rally cars Citroen DS3 R3 driven by three Australian teams including famous champion Eli Evans who clinched yesterday’s Power Stage of the event. A car called Peugeot 208 Maxi manufactured in Brazil and driven by another famous champion Mark Pedder of Australia which won the Power Stage of the local rally in four-wheel drive category yesterday is another strong contender.
Together with the Eleven competitors for the Round 3 of the FIA conducted APRC, 55 cars have entered the event.
Among them, Tidemand and his co-driver Emil Axelsson and Indonesia’s Subhan Aksa and his Italian co-driver Nicola Arena, have competed in the FIA World Rally Championship, the ultimate level of the competition, according to the event’s Media Manager Chris Nixon.
Tidemand and Axelsson clinched a podium for Skoda in the WRC2 category at the recent Rally de Portugal, while Australia’s champion co-driver Dale Moscatt who will be Mark Pedder’s co-driver for this event will travel to Caloundra immediately after contesting WRC Rally Italia Sardegna next weekend.
The organisers who had originally planned to hold the event in the Beerwah forests much closer to the rally base in Caloundra, were forced to shift to Imbil after the Sunshine Coast received more than 100 millimetres of rain in the past week.
International Rally of Queensland – Rd 3, 2015 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship -
1. Team MRF (India): Pontus Tidemand (Sweden)/Emil Axelsson (Sweden), Skoda Fabia S2000; 2. Team MRF (India): Gaurav Gill (India)/Glenn Macneall (Australia), Skoda Fabia S2000; 3. Cusco Racing (Japan): Mike Young (New Zealand)/Malcolm Read (New Zealand), Subaru Impreza WRX; 4. Bosowa Rally Team (Indonesia): Subhan Aksa (Indonesia)/Nicola Arena (Italy), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X; 5. Team MRF (India): Jean-Louis Leyraud (France)/Scott Beckwith (Australia), Skoda Fabia S2000; 6. Team Citroen Australia (Australia): Eli Evans (Australia)/Glen Weston (Australia), Citroen DS3 R3; 7. Pedders Suspension (Australia): Mark Pedder (Australia)/Dale Moscatt (Australia), Peugeot 208 Maxi; 8. Fibertech Medical (Australia): Tony Sullens (Australia)/Julia Barkly (Australia), Citroen DS3 R3; 9. Innate Motorsport (Australia): Adrian Coppin (Australia)/Erin Kelly (Australia), Citroen DS3 R3; 10. Super Alex Troop (Japan): Atsushi Masumura (Japan)/Akiko Nakagawa (Japan), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X; 11. Ahresty Rally Team (Japan): Fuyuhiko Takahashi (Japan)/Shigeru Ikeda (Japan), Subaru Impreza WRC
2015 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship for Drivers – Standings after Rd 2
1. Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) 70
2. Gaurav Gill (India) 67
3. Michael Young (New Zealand) 26
4. Subhan Aksa (Indonesia) 20