THE ACTION BEGINS IN JOHOR BARU

Published on April 3rd, 2011

Japan’s Yuya Sumiyama is the fastest of them all alongside Indonesia’s Rifat Sungkar on the opening day of the Malaysian Rally 2011 in Johor Baru.

Over the purposes built 2.5km dirt track for the special stage race on Friday, the two of them in a similiar Mitsubishi Evo X, clocked a similiar 2mins 02.1secs to finish at the top.

The achievement from the two of them will certainly give them the physcological boost as the Rally move into the rugged terrains of the Tai Tak Estate on Saturday and Sunday where the real action will take place.

The Scottish driver Alister McRae of the Proton Motorsports Team came in third fastest in 2mins 02.5secs with India’s Gaurav Gill in a Mitsubishi EvoX fourth in 2mins 02.7secs.

The best Malaysian finisher was Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya, the overall Malaysian Rally defending champion in a Subaru Impreza who came in 13th fastest in a time of 2mins 18.9secs.

“The special stage race is designed for the spectators who want a close up look of the car in action. So there is no need to go flat out and take unnecessary risks.

“But I feel comfortable in my car and finished the race feeling very good. That’s more important as we prepare for the real rallying action tomorrow and Sunday,” said Muhammad Rafiq.

A total of 35 cars took part in the special stage race, adjacent to the Angsana Shopping centre and the organisers were happy with what they saw.

“The special stage race gave the spectators the chance to catch the drivers in action from close-up. That’s the purpose. But we believe things can be done better next year to add more excitement to the fans.

“We are thinking of widening the track to allow for a two-car race instead of the one car system we just used. Having two cars side by side would be more competitive and more challenging,” said Clerk of Course Tengku Shaharin Abu Bakar.

words: MRC 2011  pix: Syafril Ismail

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