After a disappointing round in New Zealand, Team MRF will look for a podium finish in the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) here on the Sunshine Coast.
The event, which started late in the evening with two Super Special Stages under lights at Caloundra, on Friday, will next hit the forests in the Mary Valley over the weekend.
MRF driver Gaurav Gill, is currently second with 60 points in the drivers' standings while teammate Japanese Katsu Taguchi holds a reduced lead of 22 after a troubled run in New Zealand.
After winning the first two APRC rounds in Malaysia and Japan, the 1999 champion, Taguchi, lost his momentum in Whangarei, finishing sixth as a misfiring engine slowed his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The Indian national rally champion also had a bad outing when his gearbox broke down and threw him out of the reckoning.
Their misfortune, though, has opened an opportunity in Queensland for the Proton R3 Malaysian team featuring local Chris Atkinson, formerly with the Subaru World Rally Team, and British Rally Championship winner Alister McRae. The Briton finished second in New Zealand.
Gill, when asked about the Proton challenge, said he is ready to give them a run for their money, "I am confident about winning this one. I've been here last year as well."
Talking about the character of the track, Gill said that unpredictable weather could create a problem for the drivers. "Intermittent rains have made the track wet and slippery but today the sun shone bright and that dried the track. So, one may have to think twice before making the right tyre choice."
Sixteen gravel Special Stages will be run over Saturday and Sunday. The total competitive distance of 276 kilometres includes two stages of around 35 kms -- among the longest in international rallying.