Having dominated the Pacific leg, Team MRF will look for a 1-2 finish in the Malaysian-leg of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship here.
The team has won all three rounds of the championship so far with Chris Atkinson (co-driver Stephane Prevot) finishing first in New Zealand and Australia and Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneall) claiming the honours in New Caledonia.
Atkinson is sitting pretty at the top with 101 points followed by Gill (63 points) and Brian Green (52) of Brian Green Motorsport Ltd.
The new Skoda Fabia S2000 has been fabulous for the team except for a technical glitch Gill had suffered in Queensland. Race Torque Engineering, which prepares Team MRF’s cars, has made few changes to the cars of Atkinson and Gill for this round.
The Malaysian Rally is traditionally one of the most difficult races of the season, with hot and humid conditions ready to push the teams to the limits. But Team MRF manager Lane Heena sounded confident about the team’s chances.
“Chris has a good lead, but Gaurav showed in New Caledonia that he has the pace to win on speed alone, and we expect both drivers to be pushing hard this weekend,” Heena said.
Meanwhile, Gill looked superb in the practice session ahead of the ‘Shakedown’ on Thursday.
Having finished second couple of times here, he wanted to break the jinx this time around.
“I was close to winning couple of times and want to break the jinx this time,” Gill said
Atkinson, who won the rally last year here with Proton, said: “it has always been a very challenging venue. More so when it rains.
But whatever the conditions, I am hoping for a podium finish.”
The threat for Team MRF will come from Proton rivals Pergunnar Andersson and Alister McRae, who won the championship last year.
Meanwhile, the sultan of Johor flagged off the cars in a colourful ceremony on Friday. Fans came in large numbers to witness the Special Stage one conducted under lights.
The remaining stages of the first leg will be held on Saturday.
Keywords: Asia-Pacific Rally Championship