AUSTRALIAN driver Chris Atkinson will head to the International Rally of Queensland in six weeks’ time boosted by his first outright victory in an international event, after dominating the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in Malaysia at the weekend.

Atkinson and his factory-backed Proton S2000 had an almost trouble-free run in the two-day Malaysian Rally, crossing the finish in Johor Bahru late yesterday one minute 36 seconds ahead of Indian MRF team Mitsubishi driver Guarav Gill. Proton teammate Alister McRae, of Scotland, was a strong third despite overheating problems on Saturday.

The win put Atkinson in the early lead of the six-round Asia Pacific Rally Championship, which next visits the Sunshine Coast for the International Rally of Queensland – his home round - on 13-15 May.

The Monaco-based Gold Coaster, 31, scored several podium places, including a best of second, during a 2005-2008 stint with the Subaru World Rally Team. He also won the Group N category in WRC Rally Australia in 2004, the Asia Pacific Super 1600 title in 2003 and 2004, Rally Queensland in 2004 and Australian Rally Championship Privateers Cup in 2002.

His first outright international win, shared with Belgian co-driver Stephane Prevot, came aboard a Proton Satria Neo S2000 much improved by engine and suspension developments engineered off-season by the British MEM team, which builds and runs the cars for Proton.

The Protons withstood blistering heat and humidity in the Kota Tingii forest; McRae’s overheating problem was due to debris blocking the water radiator.

“This result has been coming for a while. Last year we saw just how quick the car was in the APRC and now we’ve delivered the score which everybody in Proton deserves,” Atkinson said at the finish.

“We weren’t willing to risk anything so we just settled down and counted the stages off, especially after we dropped some time with a puncture in the first stage this morning.

“As a driver, you always want to be on the limit and racing, but this was a result for Proton and the people of Malaysia. They have made us so welcome over the past week, to be able to take two places on the podium is a fantastic result for Chris (Mellors, team principal), the MEM team and all of Proton.

“It’s the best possible way to start the season As soon as we got into the car to drive it with the new suspension and engine, we knew it was going to be special. Very special.

“The secret to our success here for Alister and me was the way the car responded. That’s why we could win by such a big margin.”

Veteran New Zealand driver Brian Green finished fourth in Malaysia, followed by Aki Hatano of Japan and Fan Fan of China. Japanese drivers Akira Bamba and Kosuke Takashino made a strong start to the new APRC Junior class, finishing eighth and ninth outright in Cusco Team-entered Proton Satrias.

The Malaysian Rally has set the scene for a thrilling second round of the APRC in the Sunshine Coast and Mary Valley regions, according to Event Director Errol Bailey.

“To have a home-grown hero in Chris Atkinson returning as the championship leader is a huge attraction for rally fans. Last year the Protons had some problems, but they have started this season in winning form,” Mr Bailey said.

“The works Proton team made a big impact with their professionalism on their first visit to Queensland in 2010, but this time Chris and Alister will need every bit of skill and luck to get their second win on the trot.

“This will be our most competitive rally ever, with up to 16 international entries in a total field of around 80 cars.

“In addition to the Protons, we’re expecting the defending Queensland winner Guarav Gill and the defending champion Katsu Taguchi, from Japan, plus some of the best steerers from Britain, Japan, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, Malaysia and New Caledonia.”

Tickets for the International Rally of Queensland are on sale now at rallyqueensland.com.au, with discounts for early-bird purchasers. Adult general admission prices are from $15, with tickets to the Party Deck corporate hospitality suite priced at $135.

The rally program includes the spectacular Caloundra Rally Shootout presented by Caloundra RSL and Hella under lights on Friday and Saturday nights and the Mary Valley forestry stages near Imbil, an hour’s drive north from event headquarters at Rydges Oasis Resort.

Other places where the public will see the cars include an evening display at Bul**** Beach, Caloundra, on Wednesday 11 May, a service stop on Saturday morning at Kenilworth in the coast hinterland, a meet-and-greet on Saturday afternoon at Cooroy and the Hella Service Park at Imbil Showgrounds.

INTERNATIONAL RALLY OF QUEENSLAND PROGRAM *

Wednesday 11 May -

Evening (time t.b.a.): Rally car display, Bul**** Beach Esplanade, presented by Caloundra Chamber of Commerce (free)

Friday 13 May -

5.30pm: Caloundra Rally Shootout and rally show presented by Caloundra RSL Services Club and Hella; 7.30pm Super Special Stages 1-2 start (tickets required)

Saturday 14 May -

8am: Kenilworth, competitor service stopover (free)
7.25am-All day: Mary Valley Forestry Stages 3-10 at Imbil Spectator Park (tickets required)
All day: Hella Service Park at Imbil Showgrounds (free)
3.30pm: Cooroy, rally crews meet-and-greet and car display (free)
5.30pm: Caloundra Rally Shootout presented by Caloundra RSL Services Club and Hella; 7pm Super Special Stages 11-12 *(tickets required)

Sunday 15 May -

9am-All day: Mary Valley Forestry Stages 13-19 at Imbil Spectator Park (tickets required)
All day: Hella Service Park at Imbil Showgrounds (free)
3pm: Official finish and podium presentation, Hella Service Park at Imbil Showgrounds (free)

(* Times are for first car on course. Exact times may change slightly if circumstances require.)

TICKET PRICES
(General Admission tickets discounted 20 percent until 9 May)

Friday/Saturday/Sunday 13-15 May -

Event Super Pass (All General Admission areas, all weekend)

Adult $35
Child (under 14) $10

Friday 13 May -

Caloundra Rally Shootout (night)

General Admission
Adult $20
Child (under 14) $5
*
Party Deck (I
ncludes two-course dinner, drinks, superior viewing, parking)
Adult $135
Party Deck Table of 10 $1215.00 (pay for 9, get 1 free) *

Saturday 14 May -

Mary Valley Forestry Stages
(day)

General Admission
Adult $15
Child (under 14) $5

Caloundra Rally Shootout
(night)

General Admission
Adult $20
Child (under 14) $5
*
Party Deck (I
ncludes two-course dinner, drinks, superior viewing, parking)
Adult $135
Party Deck Table of 10 $1215 (pay for 9, get 1 free) *

Sunday 15 May -

Mary Valley Forestry Stages (day)

General Admission
Adult $15
Child (under 14) $5

On-line tickets and spectator information are available at www.rallyqueensland.com.au.








More...



Never pay again for live sex! | Hot girls doing naughty stuff for free! | Chat for free!