It was a weekend to remember for Team MRF as its drivers — Katsu Taguchi and Gaurav Gill — drove their way to the podium for a one-two finish in the Malaysian leg of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) here on Sunday. This was Team MRF's first win in Malaysia.
The overnight leader, Alister McRae of Proton Satria, pushed too hard and suffered an engine blow-up.
Luck deserted the 39-year old Scotsman, who had gone into the final round with a good 17 seconds lead over the second-placed Taguchi, as he had a nasty bump, which damaged the radiator at the end of Stage 10. As McRae couldn't take further part in the competition, there was no pressure on the MRF drivers.
The agony did not end there for the Proton Satria team. The other entrant, Chris Atkinson, had an electrical failure but managed to finish the race.
“But that's rallying. You can have a perfect day and then you pray everything will be fine the next. But sometimes it doesn't work out that way,” said McRae.
With McRae out of the way, Taguchi produced a perfectly-judged drive in dry and wet conditions to keep the other contender and teammate Gill at bay.
Taguchi said his aggressive attitude right from the start to the finish helped him win this race. “I was disappointed with my performance yesterday (Saturday) as my car had understeer.
“Today (Sunday) most of the drivers slid due to the slippery conditions in the seventh and eighth stages, but we had no problems at all. We were aggressive right from start to finish,” said Taguchi.
Gill said he was delighted that his team finished one-two in the toughest race of the season because of the conditions and unpredictable weather.
“It's an awesome start to the season. The Malaysian Rally is the most demanding of all rounds of the APRC and I am happy to have finished the rally overall second, which was doubtful due to my brake overheating problem yesterday.”
Anthony Rodricks, Head of Motorsports-MRF Limited, said: “A Malaysian APRC round victory has always been eluding Team MRF. The victory has given us a lot of confidence and now we look forward to win the 2010 title.”
Coming in third was Indonesia's Rifat Sungkar in a Subaru Impreza WRX with Malaysia's Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya also in a similar vehicle, finishing fourth.
Final provisional results (After Stage 16): 1. Katsu Taguchi & Mark Stacey (Team MRF) 03.19:07; 2. Gaurav Gill & Glenn Macneall (Team MRF) 03.34:11; 3. Rifat Sungkar & Scott Beckwith (Subaru Impreza) 03.55:23.
Keywords: Asia Pacific Rally Championship