Team MRF set for encore at Malaysian Rally

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After dominating the three-round Pacific Cup, team MRF will be looking to fortify their leader position in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship when the Malaysian Rally gets vrooming in Johor Bahru, the southern-most tip of Eurasian mainland on Saturday.

Having won the rallies of Whangarei and Queensland, MRF’s Australian driver Chris Atkinson with Belgian co-driver Stefan Prevot heads the overall tally with 101 points and his Indian teammate Gaurav Gill, who took the honours in New Caledonia is second on 63 points.

The Malaysian Rally is considered to be one of the toughest in the six-round APRC as hot tropical climate with over 95 per cent of humidity can be a punishing ordeal for the drivers.

The rally had a ceremonial flag-off on Friday evening with the drivers entertaining a crowd of hundreds over a special stage of 2.5 km on gravel adjacent to the Angsana Shopping Complex.

Night rally was being re-introduced in the country after 20 years and for the first time made part of the Malaysian leg of APRC.

The drifting machines did bring a horde of motor-sport enthusiasts to their heels, but it was hardly a warm-up. With the real stage 1 set to resume, far away from Johor’s township, at the Tai Tak Plantations in Kota Tinggi, all eyes will be upon the two MRF drivers in their Skoda Fabia S2000 cars.

After being forced out of action from the previous leg in Queensland due to an electrical failure in the car, Gill with Aussie Glen MacNeall as co-driver seems desperate to be back on track.

“I finished second in two previous occasions here, but this time I want to go one step further,” said Gill, whose controls exuded with confidence during the shakedown.

“Precise driving and high levels of fitness are essential if you have to come out successful in this leg,” said Gill. Meanwhile his teammate Atkinson hopes to widen the lead with some intense rallying over the weekend.

“It has always been a very challenging venue. More so when it rains. But whatever the conditions, I am hoping for a podium finish,” said Atkinson.

Team MRF manager Lane Heena believes both Atkinson and Gill can make the most out of the Malaysian leg.

“Chris has a good lead, but Gaurav showed in New Caledonia that he can win on speed alone and we expect both drivers to be pushing hard this weekend,” said Lane.

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