Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is GO

The Rally of Whangerei, the first round of the FIA Asia-Pacific rally, recently concluded in New Zealand with Chris Atkinson of Team MRF India winning in his Skoda Fabia S2000 along with his team mate Gaurav Gill, also in a Skoda Fabia S2000, in third place. For those not in the know, this is a small primer on the FIA APR Championship. Basically a regional championship, the APRC has drivers and teams participating not just from the region but from around the world. Comprised of six rounds, the APRC country venues for 2012 are as follows - New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia, Malaysia, Japan and China. No, India is not part of the APRC as yet but if one is to go by the results of the first rally, India is very much on the radar thanks to MRF Tyres and Gaurav Gill.

Primarily a championship for Group N cars which undergo very little modifications – more safety and handling oriented rather than upping power - this year’s championship also has a Super 2000 class which includes cars with turbocharged 1.6litre engines where the cars are much more powerful and have better performance than the Group N cars but cost a fraction of what it costs to campaign a fully modified WRC car.

APRC has primarily been a Group N championship, in that the favoured cars have been the current world leaders in Group N rally technology. However with teams opting to take advantage of the R4 regulations (allowing closer competition with the S2000 cars), and the inclusion of Class 2 cars (both S2000 naturally aspirated and S1.6T), competition will be fierce. This provides a platform for more manufacturers to be showcased in the series.

The APRC is actually two three-round championships in one, the Asian and the Pacific. One can compete in one and or both. S2000 cars include the Skoda Fabia, the Fiat Grande Punto, the Proton Satria Neo (the car that prompted MRF to switch from the Mitsubishis they have been campaigning last year) and the Ford Fiesta. What is common to these S2000 cars is that they all develop close to 280bhp of power. The championship runs under similar competition format to the FIA World Rally Championship and according to FIA regulations. Most events follow the FIA format of a central service area with “cloverleaf” legs. Parc Ferme’s are established at end of each leg or day. Points are scored on the basis of finishing order in each round to calculate overall points, using the same formula as for World Rally Championship. (25,18,15,12,10,8,6,4,2,1). The 2011 season was won by the late Colin McRae’s , Alistair McRae.Automobile News

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