APRC - Round 1 : International Rally of Whangerai, New ZealandThe opening round for the APRC, Season 2013', having stages similar to that ran last year for the WRC. A set of fantastic super-fast-flowing gravel stages awaits for the competitors. However, there are some big & important changes in the competition this year.
Proton Motorsports decided to bow-out of the international motorsport and want to concentrate on their home-ground. After-all it is where their cars have the bigger market and have to impress their potential customers.
Team MRF has joined hands with Skoda Motorsport who will provide the factory support, and in the newly formed joint-venture they have also brought the star driver from Finland, Esapekka Lappi who will be driving one of the two cars. While the Team MRF's home grown talent from India, Gaurav Gill will drive another Skoda Fabia S2000.
APRC basically has now been restructured from the formerly Group N production championship, to the next level, where S2000 cars and R4 cars will compete for the overall honours.
This move of FIA with the Production Cup, has encouraged to bring more competitors to the series. Encashing to this opportunity was last year's 2wd champion driver, India's Sanjay Takale who has upgraded to 4WD this year in a Subaru Impreza N4.
"Four-wheel cars are the pinnacle of world rallying. I wanted to begin my APRC pursuits with 2-wheel drive class to get used to the circuits, and it was but natural to graduate to 4-wheel drive in the next season," says Takale,
He would be in direct competition with the Cusco Team who are dominant since Team MRF switched to S2000's. Sanjay Takale adds to his plight explaining, "We don't have even a single sedan in India with 4-wheel drive, which makes it all the more difficult to get used to a car that is more powerful and needs greater control."
In the 2WD competition, there is good news as Toyota has entered into the competition, with their flagship model Yaris/Vitz. This was announced last year in October and also we had reported about this intention of their return to the rally stages.
ERC - Round 5 : Tour de Corse, France
The fifth round of the European Rally Championship heat lands on the historic Tour de Corse, Corsica. The island in the Mediterranean is famous for the winding narrow tarmac roads, that trademark characteristic aura to make it into thrilling rally stages.
All of the likes of the drivers/codrivers have arrived here and the recce is mostly done. The action begins early tomorrow at 08:23 with the opening stage, SS1 Le Fangu - ND de la Serra [27.53 kms], and other 5 more stages, SS2 Erbajolo - Pont d'Altiani 1 [24.57 kms], SS3 Barchetta - La Porta 1 [23.24 kms], SS4 Taverna - Pont de Castiria [15.28 kms], SS5 Barchetta - La Porta 2 [23.24 kms], SS6 Erbajolo - Pont d'Altiani 2 [24.57 kms], with the service between two stages at Corte Airport.
Live results can be tracked here. Stay tuned for more updates.