The 2011 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) moves to Longyou County of China’s Zhejiang Province for the season-ending stop from November 4-6, after intense competitions in Malaysia, Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Japan.
The championship also serves as the fifth stop of the China Rally Championship (CRC).
The championship, sanctioned by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and China State General Administration of Sport, is an international sports event, organized by the Federation of Automobile Sports of China (FASC), Zhejiang Sports Bureau, Zhejiang Tourism Bureau and Longyou County People’s Government and title-sponsored by the Longyou County Zhengguo Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.
Longyou, venue for the China Rally Championship three times from 2003 to 2005, first hosted the APRC championship in 2006, and its fine tracks, facilities and service have left the participants with a good impression. The county will be hosting the APRC championship for the sixth time this year. Participants this year will be 92, including some drivers who put up good performances at the World Rally Championship and the best Chinese drivers. Participation of domestic manufacturers such as FAW-Volkswagen, Shanghai Volkswagen Skoda, Dongfeng Citroen, Dongfang Honda and Chery will surely make the competition more exciting.
At the absence of Team MRF in Longyou, Malaysia’s Team Proton Motorsports, overwhelming so far in the APRC championship, will collect its first annual APRC title after the Longyou stop since it has accumulated a high score of 236 points to sit at the top of the standings. Focus will be on the Team Proton’s two star drivers – Alister McRae and Christopher Atkinson. McRae leads Atkinson, winner of three stops this year, by merely seven points. The two will fight it out who goes to the top of the podium in Longyou.
Speaking of the Longyou stop, defending champion McRae and teammate Atkinson both had only one concern: flat tires, which both had last year. But McRae is excited about a stage in Longyou, which consists of 40 hairpin turns over 18 kilometers. Atkinson is feeling very regretful for not being able to win the individual crown in the Japan stop. In Longyou, Atkinson only has one target: To win the stop and then eventually be crowned annual individual champion.
Apart from the Malaysia’s Team Proton,China’s Team Soueast Motor Kumho Team, back to the APRC this year, is also the team to be reckoned with. In order to achieve a fine result in Longyou, Soueast Motor Kumho Team, absent from the Japan stop, has recruited Finland’s Jari Ketomaa and Australia’s Nathan Quinn. Though Ketomaa failed to complete the race in the New Caledonia stop due to a mechanical failure, he finished third in the 2009 Longyou race and has fully displayed his potentials during the WRC competitions. And Quinn’s speed during this year’s competition is impressive. Besides, Fan Fan and Yuan Hao, a combination of the old and new, still have the chance to help Soueast Motor Kumho Team finish second in the team rankings despite the fact they are 30 points behind the second-placed team.
In the manufacturers’ standings, Proton is leading Mitsubishi by only six points.
In the Asia-Pacific group, apart from the leading duo of McRae and Atkinson, Team Pertamina Cusco Racing’s Rifat Sungkar and Yuya Sumiyama and Malaysia’s veteran Karamit Singh should by no means be underestimated.
There will be 13 special stages in the APRC Longyou stop this year for a total distance of 124.47 kilometers.
Racing on concrete road was introduced in Longyou last year, and this year the ratio of competition on concrete road over the entire distance will be increased. A two-way, new stage between Luojia and Sheyang, with 22.35 and 25.85 kilometers respectively and entirely concrete road, will be used. This and other gravel surfaces will make the teams tending to be neutralized on automobile adjustment and tire choice.
Also, most probably it will still be a battle in rain in Longyou since weather forecast predicts different levels of rain from super sprint on Friday to the completion on Sunday, thus increasing the chances of the drivers making mistakes. And as the sun sets earlier in Longyou, some drivers will feel the night chill by the end of the day’s race.
According to the schedule, the departure ceremony will be held at 10:45am on October 4 at the Rongchang Square, followed by the SS1 in the afternoon.
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