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While Cody Crocker and Ben Atkinson were wrapping up the Asia Pacific Rally Championship title, Queenslander Anthony McLoughlin and Chinese driver Liu Cao Dong were wrapping up the 2006 Chinese Championship.  Their result was even better when their team, KST, won the 2006 Teams Championship as well. All in all it turned out to be a good weekend and an even better year.

Here's Anthony's story:

"We started the event with a slender two point lead over our team boss, Mr Wei, in a Lancer Evo 8. Basically we just had to finish ahead of him to win the championship. Before the start of the event, the conditions weren't looking good with cold, wet and slippery conditions awaiting us on the special stages. To make matters worse, the stages themselves were very tight, twisty and narrow with very large drops on the outside of the corners. As an example, one of the stages was 16km long and took most of the top crews around 20 minutes to complete!

For us, just knowing we had to finish meant we focused on getting the car well prepared and our notes perfect and safe. Once again we had the engineering support of John McLean (ex chief engineer for Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg) from Prodrive. John has helped us a great deal over the last two events. He is also Irish, so I think he has brought us a little luck as well!

The event was made up of 17 stages totalling 240km in length. It was a very challenging and gruelling 240km which took over three hours of rallying to complete. We were once again contesting the event in Dong's 2006 Group N Prodrive-built Subaru.

The event started well for us with two special stages on the Saturday afternoon which saw us 10th overall and, most importantly, opening up a 20 second lead over the other championship contenders. Sunday was made up of nine special stages. We consistently set top ten stage times in the trying conditions and managed to keep ourselves out of trouble.The event fast became "survival of the fittest" with many of the top crews running into trouble. Our only dramaas for the day were two flat tyres which both happened on the road sections. We finished the day eighth overall and had created a nice 4min 30sec lead in the Chinese championship.

Day Two saw another five stages, the last stage cancelled for safety reasons. Nerves were now starting to set in, knowing we only had to finish to win the championship with no pressure from behind. As we found out, championships are not handed to you on silver platters and little gremlins started to appear. The start of SS12 was delayed by 30 minutes and on the start line our intercom failed. We had to do the 16km stage using hand signals! Despite the problems, we still manged to extend our lead over the other CRC drivers. The rest of the day went reasonably smoothly despite hitting a dog on the road section to the last stage, but this is a common occurrence in China!

There was drama right up to the last stage when Takuma Kamada broke his suspension on the second corner of the last stage. This allowed us to move up to fourth outright.  At the end of the stage we had built a lead in the CRC of over five minutes and the championship was ours.

Dong, who only turned 22 three days before the rally, drove a very smart and mature event, keeping otu of trouble. Credit also has to go to the strength and reliability of our Prodrive Subaru which performed faultlessly in such tough conditions. For me it has been a great year and a dream come true to win a national championship. The Chinese championship is fast becoming one of the best championships in the world. It now attracts up to ten international drivers per event with drivers like David Higgins, Martin Rowe, Juha Salo and Takuma Kamada to name a few.

At present the future looks good with a deal confirmed to once again co-drive for Dong in the 2007 CRC in a new 2007 Prodrive Subaru, as well as the possibility of doing a number of APRC events."


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