Tag Archives: APRC

Emma Gilmour and her Suzuki Swift Maxi are ready for Whangarei Rally

Emma Gilmour is looking forward to giving her radical Suzuki Swift Maxi a full competition debut at this weekend’s Rally of Whangarei.

The turbo-charged four-wheel-drive Swift completed just a handful of special stages at last month’s Otago Rally, running a modest pace as one of the course-opening zero cars rather than as an official rally entry. Further tests since that event – the most recent completed on Saturday – have the new machine ready to take to the stages as a fully-fledged entry for the Whangarei event.

“We still have a way to go in developing the car to the full, but are now at the point where we are confident of being able to showcase its potential in competition this weekend,” says Gilmour. “Naturally I am hoping we can be fully competitive against the fastest of our rivals, but our main aim is to try and complete both days of the rally, and so maximise it as an opportunity for further development.”

The Swift is the first of a new generation of machines prepared to a Super Rally formula that many pick will be the future of the sport in this country. It started life some months back as a stock-standard Suzuki Swift Sport road car, but has now been completely re-engineered as a state-of-the art rally car.

It has had a 170mm stretch in wheelbase to provide dimensions that maximise handling; structural strength and occupant protection is provided by over 47 metres of chrome molly tubing, fabricated into a massively strong roll cage; key sub-frame and suspension components have come from overseas, as has the car’s competition gearbox and front and rear limited slip differentials. There’s also an astonishing change in the engine bay, where the 1.6-litre non-turbo engine removed from the donor car has returned as a 1.8-litre (courtesy of an increased stroke) with a Garett turbocharger and custom-made exhaust manifold, radiator and intercooler.

Emma Gilmour portrait_Geoff Ridder

Gilmour and the new car have been seeded fifth in the national championship component of the event, which also counts towards this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

While the car is all new, it’s a case of back to the future in the cockpit, where Scottish international co-driver Claire Mole will sit alongside Gilmour as her navigator for the first time since 2009, when she played a key role in Gilmour’s run to runner-up honours in that year’s Asia-Pacific championship.

“We have enjoyed some great successes competing together in the past, so it is really special having Claire re-join me as I give my new car its proper competition debut,” says Gilmour.

On the other hand, Gilmour admits to feeling a little disappointed for her regular co-driver Glenn Macneall, who will miss out on being in the Swift this weekend as he is contracted to co-drive for top Indian driver Gaurav Gill on this year’s Asia-Pacific Championship events.

That means that this weekend Macneall will actually be competing against the car he has been instrumental in developing as part of Gilmour’s rally team.

Mind you, Macneall has not escaped direct involvement in Gilmour’s Whangarei campaign; it was he, along with Lindsay Tressler, who was charged with taking the Swift (towed on a trailer behind the team service truck) on the long drive north from Dunedin to Whangarei earlier this week.

After a ceremonial start at the Cameron Street Mall on Friday night, this weekend’s Whangarei Rally gets underway in earnest on Saturday morning. Competitors will contest 16 high-speed special stages totalling some 280km over the course of Saturday and Sunday, ahead of a mid-afternoon finish at the Quayside Town Basin.

Haydon Paddon is the top seed in the national championship component event, while Finnish speedster Esapekka Lappi heads the sixteen-strong Asia-Pacific championship contingent.

Photo by Euan Cameron.

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Quest for APRC title starts at Whangarei this weekend

A diverse field of competitors from countries such as New Caledonia, Finland, Australia, Japan and throughout New Zealand tackle this weekend’s opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) being held in Whangarei from 18 to 19 May.

The International Rally of Whangarei is the first of seven rounds for the 2013 APRC title and also runs as the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).

Contenders have a journey of 730.40km that covers the fast flowing roads of the greater Whangarei and Kaipara districts. Contested over 16 special stages cars vary from the latest model to early era variants competing to set fastest time for the lure of championship points and glory.

Heading the line-up that begins with a ceremonial start at Whangarei’s Cameron Street Mall from 4:30pm Friday is Finnish pairing Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm. Driving a factory backed ŠKODA Fabia Super2000 specification car it is the 22-year-olds first time to New Zealand and roads made famous by prior rounds of the World Rally Championship. Part of the two-car MRF Tyres team, Lappi says he is looking forward to driving over roads regarded as similar to those of his home country: “Yes, for sure it’s a very nice opportunity to get more experience at many different kinds of rallies, and also to get to know those roads and conditions on the other side of the world. I can’t wait!”

Arriving early in the week to acclimatise and de-jet lag Lappi and Ferm have small goals in mind having not yet worked with the team and the car.

“I think this first event will be in a way a ‘running in’ thing. Everything is new, and this is first time for me when I fly to a rally overseas. So hopefully everything goes well and we could get good points from there. I am really looking forward to it!

Driving the second car will be India’s Gaurav Gill, joined by New Zealand based Australian born co-driver Glenn Macneall. A regular to the series and New Zealand, the pair will start second car on the road, behind Lappi.

Third car away will be Queensland pairing Matt van Tuinen and Erin Kelly driving a production specification Subaru STI. They are also dual entered to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship – although the majority of van Tuinen’s peers will run behind the international specification cars in a separate field.

There are a number of first-timers to the event and the region’s roads. Japanese pairing Hiroshi Asakura and co-driver Takumi Takahashi are backed by performance car part brand Cusco, bringing a Subaru STI to New Zealand for their first full season in the APRC.

New Caledonia based Frenchman Claude Clavel also joins the APRC for his first season with countryman co-driver Phillipe Delrieu. Using a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 run by New Zealand based Team Ralliart it will be Clavel’s first time at the Whangarei event, although he did traverse some of the region during last year’s Rally New Zealand.

Perth based 20-year-old Kiwi Michael Young will be first two-wheel-drive on the roads. Joined by Tasmania’s Daniel Wilson the pair has big ambitions for the season as they debut the Cusco backed Toyota Vitz (known as the Yaris in New Zealand). Contesting the Pacific Cup sub-category, that they won the New Zealand round of in 2012, the pair intend on furthering past results and experiences and completing the four rounds scheduled for 2013.

In direct competition to Young and driving the event for the first time will be Japan’s Yuya Yamamoto with co-driver Kohei Izuno. Yamamoto will drive the only Proton entered for 2013 after the shock and recent withdrawal of the factory supported top two-car team.

Stepping up to a four-wheel-drive Subaru, India’s Sanjay Takale starts his second season in the APRC by journeying to New Zealand and the quest for improved results.

“I am up for the challenge,” says Takale. “My biggest competitor will be Hiroshi Asakura of Japan from Cusco Racing. If I do well, it will be a confidence booster for my future plans.”

Of the 16 teams in the international portion of the field four of them are dual entered to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship – due to their car eligibility. Included are two of the latest specification R2 Ford Fiesta’s of Christchurch’s Josh Marston (co-driver Mal Peden) and Tauranga’s Phil Campbell (co-driver Venita Fabbro). Mt Maunganui based David Holder (co-driver Josh Theobald) is in an earlier generation Fiesta.

Nelsons Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn, currently third overall in the NZRC standings are entered in their Subaru STI.

The rally itself gets underway on Friday 17 May with a pre-event autograph session in the Cameron St mall from 3:30pm. The cultural welcome and ceremonial start begins at 4:30pm with all the competing crews and cars taking part before being parked for the night ahead of Saturday’s action. Leaving Whangarei from 8am the route takes competitors over roads around Parahi in the south-west, Waipu Caves and Brooks – including the ‘Hella’ jump on Swamp Rd. They return to Whangarei for the brand new 1.25km Pohe Island ‘Super Special’ stage before a 20minute service break at the Town Basin. The route is repeated in the afternoon with the cars then parked overnight following the service break.

Sunday begins at 6:55am and heads south through Waipu Gorge and on to Marohemo and Batley road, visiting Paparoa and Cassidy road before returning to Whangarei for a 20 minute service break. The teams repeat the stages in the early afternoon, returning to the Quayside Town Basin for a ceremonial finish from 3:15pm.

Article image by Euan Cameron.

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.

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Spectator attractions key part of International Rally of Whangarei

Hayden Paddon - Picture by Euan Cameron.

Rally fans can enjoy multiple spectator vantage points to watch New Zealand’s best rally drivers take on the cream of the Asia Pacific region during the 15 to 17 July running of the International Rally of Whangarei.

The event features as the fourth rounds of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) and, for Clubmans category competitors, it also counts as a round of the Top Half Rally Series. Continue reading Spectator attractions key part of International Rally of Whangarei

Evans to defend title at IROQ?

The Proton R3 Rally Team are aiming for a strong weekend in Queensland - Picture by Proton.

Story: Evan Rothman

With a host of international rally crews contesting the International Rally of Queensland this weekend, Australia’s best will be looking to outpace their rivals over the event’s 18 stages.

At the top of this list is Simon Evans and co-driver wife Sue Evans (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) who are the reigning Australia Rally Champions. Last was twelve months ago that Evans powered their way to a storming win in this event to take the overall honours in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) category by one minute and the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) category by two minutes! Continue reading Evans to defend title at IROQ?