The uncertain weather played no part in deciding the course of the first day of the Malaysian round of the 2010 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. The drivers pushed their cars to the limit as they drove through the lush green palm plantations of the Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi.
Alistair McRae, with co-driver Bill Hayes, guided the Proton Satria Neo S2000 to take a 27-second lead going into the final round on Sunday. The 39-year-old Scot won with a time of 11:30.2 minutes, with Japan’s Katsu Taguchi second overall in an MRF.
India’s Gaurav Gill, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, clocked the third-best time as he bids to finish the Malaysian leg for the first time and secure a possible podium finish.
The 28-year-old Gill faced problems with the brakes. Having led until the fifth stage, he lost precious time in the closing stages.
“My brakes overheated,” he said. “They worked for the first four stages, though not very effectively. After the fifth stage, my car literally had no brakes. I went off the road several times and was lucky to finish. I had the same problem in last year’s Malaysian round of the APRC,” he explained.
Taguchi, who won two stages in the day, was awarded 10 more seconds by the stewards after losing time.
Yellow flags were waved after Chris Atkinson crashed in the first stage, and Taguchi was asked to slow down as per the rules. He finished at 2:04:34 seconds.
The 38-year-old Taguchi drove the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X for the first time, having driven the EVO IX model previously.
“My car had understeer during the first four stages due to incorrect setting. This was rectified at the service, and in the remaining stages we were very competitive,” he said.