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THE ASIA PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
 
A backdrop of blue, green and shades of gray forms the spectators’ paradise at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). Circuits comprise of winding roads up scenic mountains covered in picturesque greenery and others along expansive, gravel-covered beaches to which fans throng, cameras in hand, ready to capture the momentous event. The APRC is another international series under the FIA banner with 7 rounds in China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The championship was first held in 1988 with titles for best drivers, teams and car manufacturers. Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Subaru were all front running teams from the early years but in recent years, Malaysian car manufacturer Proton and Czech automobile manufacturer Skoda, have been giving them a run for their money. Australian Cody Crocker became the most successful driver in APRC history, winning his fourth consecutive title in 2009.

The APRC has some of the toughest circuits in the world of off-road racing where some of the wet stages see torrential rainfalls flood the roads making them muddy, slippery and downright impassable. Drivers also experience extreme heat and humidity coupled with a paradox of rough but slippery gravel-covered roads on which four-wheel cars are tricky to navigate.

This year’s APRC kicked off in high gear on April 17th in the Rally of Whangarei – New Zealand, and the just concluded round 2 Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie took place on May 15th – 17th. Next in the series is Rally Queensland – Australia on 19th-21st June, the Malaysian Rally on 14th-16th August, the Japanese Rally Hokkaido on 18th-20th September, Rally China on 30th October – 1st November and the series finale, Rally of India on 11th-13th December. It is a tight race as Swedish Pontus Tidemand tops the standings with 70 points ahead of his MRF-Teammate and former APRC Champion, Gaurav Gill of India, who currently has 67 points.