Taguchi clinches opening APRC leg, Gill finishes 2nd
It was celebration for Team MRF after the conclusion of the Malaysian round of the 2010 Asia Pacific Rally Championship on Sunday. Katsu Taguchi, the team’s Japanese driver, set a time of 03:19:07.7 seconds to win the rally, while Gaurav Gill followed him to secure second place, and a much-deserved podium finish. Pertamina Rally’s Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar came in third.
“It was a really fantastic result,” Taguchi said. “There was no problem with the car and I made no mistake driving it. We had good pace in these tropical conditions,” the winner said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Gaurav, who racked up a podium finish with his impressive driving, said that it was a good result for the team overall. “I started off on a good note with fast times. But I lost time due to brake problems again,” he said.
Calling it “the toughest rally of my career”, Gaurav gave a thumbs-up after roaring to the finish line at the end of Special Stage 16 at the Tai Tak Plantations. “The Malaysian Rally is the most demanding of all rounds of the APRC. I’m happy I finished it. We are all on a high note and I am already looking forward to the next round,” he said.
Rifat, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX, struggled with the car throughout the stages. “We struggled a lot and the weather was quite challenging. It was extremely slushy and slippery, which made it very hard to control the car. So I’m happy with the third place,” he said.
Intermittent rains threatened the drivers, with the skies opening up during the earlier stages of the day. Otherwise it was humid and sultry, the hot conditions causing the teams to switch strategies.
Proton R3’s Alister McRae, who finished the leader on Saturday, had an engine failure on Stage 11.
As the Scot revved up the Proton Satria Neo S2000 to start the stage, the engine blew up, also blowing up his chances of finishing the rally. The next round of the APRC is slotted for Hokkaido (Japan) on May 22 and 23.