ŠKODA teams in the big APRC final in China
The factory-backed team ŠKODA MRF is optimistic ahead of the grand final of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
The final race of the APRC season will take place around Longyou in eastern China. The current overall leaders Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall (IND/NZ) and the second ŠKODA duo Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) will battle it out for two titles – the manufacturers’ and the drivers’ championships – from 1 to 3 November. A triumph would be the perfect finishing touch to an outstanding 2013 rally season for the Czech automobile manufacturer, as it already has the European Championship title* under its belt thanks to Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ), as well as five other national and regional titles.
“China will be another very special challenge, as the rally alternates between stretches of gravel and asphalt. We have a clear aim, and that’s to win in the manufacturers’ standings. And it goes without saying that I will also do everything I can to bring my and Glenn’s fight for the drivers’ championship title to a successful conclusion,” says 31-year-old Gaurav Gill of India. He scored his second victory of the APRC season in Japan recently, following on from his win in New Caledonia. ŠKODA is at the top of the leader board in the manufacturers’ rankings, with a 13.5 point lead ahead of the final race in China – just like Gill in the drivers’ rankings.
ŠKODA’s leadership in the manufacturers’ standings this season is in part thanks to the nifty Finn, Esapekka Lappi, who is the second ŠKODA driver to have clinched race wins in this APRC season in New Zealand and Australia. He is currently ranked fourth overall in the APRC.
More recently, the 22-year-old also demonstrated his exceptional talent by coming second in the legendary Rallye Sanremo within the European Rally Championship (ERC).
“We are in a very positive frame of mind thanks to this ERC success and will now do everything we can to clinch the APRC championship for ŠKODA.” If they pull it off, they will have successfully defended ŠKODA’s title, as Chris Atkinson (AUS) won the APRC manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships for ŠKODA in 2012.
China Rally Longyou will take place in the province of Zhejiang in the east of China. It covers a distance of 230.92 kilometres and features 13 stages. The mix of track surfaces, with both gravel and asphalt, means the rally will be extra challenging both for the drivers and the ŠKODA MRF team mechanics.
There will be three additional teams competing in the China Rally Championship in a Fabia S2000 with the support of ŠKODA China: the British duo Niall McShea/Marshall Clarke and two Chinese pairings, Xu Jun/Liu Sheng and Jiang Zhiyang/Xie Zhijiang.
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