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Rediff.com  » Sports » Champion Karamjit to skip Canberra rally

Champion Karamjit to skip Canberra rally

April 20, 2005 17:51 IST

Malaysia's Karamjit Singh, the three-time winner of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), including last year, is not listed for the first round of the 2005 APRC series, to be held in Canberra from April 22 to 24.

The last date for entries was April 15 and Karamjit's name was not listed. He has still not registered with FIA for the APRC this year, but has till May 15 to do so, just before the New Caledonia round.

Meanwhile, both Jussi Valimaki (Finland) and Katsu Taguchi (Japan) of team MRF Tyres (India) completed their three days of testing and were happy with the set-up of their respective cars.

Jussi was particularly happy with the MRF tyres, which he tested for the first time. After the test session, he said: "I don't find any difference between MRF, Michelin and Pirelli rally tyres."

Taguchi too was satisfied with the two-day test and preferred to concentrate on fine-tuning his car on Wednesday.

Nine drivers have so far registered for the 2005 Asia Pacific Rally Championship with further entries expected by the New Caledonia event.

The major news is the entry into the championship by Japanese driver Toshi Arai in his Sanden Subaru Impreza.

Arai currently leads the Production Car World Rally Championship and, in current form, will be hard to beat .The car is reported to have advantages over the Mitsubishi cars in terms of torque and weight, the Subaru is approximately 60 kilograms lighter.

The MRF team returns with Taguchi in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. Having won in China and finishing second Overall in the 2004 championship, Taguchi is a top contender for the title.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how quickly will Valimaki, nick-named 'Fast Jussi', a former test driver for Hyundai and very experienced in European events, adapts to new roads and conditions.

New Zealander Geof Argyle returns with the Silverstone Tyres team and is joined by Brian Green. Both drivers will run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8's. Kiwi Dermott Malley is running his own team this year and has Argyles co-driver from 2004 Steve Smith sitting alongside him.

Chinese driver Fan Fan, who had a successful run in India last year, enters the championship. His team-mate will be Malaysia's Chee Hong Kan and both drivers will run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. Due to a conflicting event in China, Fan Fan and the Wan Yu Rally team will not be at Canberra and will begin their campaign at New Caledonia.

The registered drivers for APRC 2005 are:

Geof Argyle (NZ)/Jeremy Sinclair (co-driver), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ); Chee Hong Kan (MAL)/Bernard U-Min Chin (MAL), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN); Fan Fan (CN)/Yong He (CN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Wan Yu Rally Team (CN); Dermott Malley (NZ)/Stephen Andrew Smith (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, M Rally Team (NZ); Toshi Arai (Japan)/Tony Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza, Arai Motorsports (Japan); Katsu Taguchi (JPN)/Mark Stacey (AUS), Mitsubisshi Lancer Evo 8, MRF Tyres (India); Jussi Valimaki (FIN)/Jarkko Kalliolepo (FIN), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, MRF Tyres (India); Brian Green/Fleur Pederson (NZ), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Silverstone Competition Tyres (NZ); Mitsuhiro Kunisawa, Japan.