This coming weekend, from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 August, the Pertamina Rally Teams campaign for the 2009 Asia Pacific Rally Championship moves to the beautiful island country of New Caledonia.  

Located in the Pacific Ocean close to Vanuatu and Fiji, the New Caledonia event, which has a reputation for catching out the leading teams, will be somewhat of a new experience for both driver Rifat Sungkar and co-driver Scott Beckwith.  

“I have only competed in New Caledonia once before” noted Rifat “and not only was that some years ago, but the rally was not fully run for organisational reasons.  So, while it is all new to Scott, most of it will be new to me too.”

Nonetheless, the team are confident of a good result – and improving upon a disappointing weekend for the team at the previous round in Queensland, where the pair experienced their first non finish together.  

“The Queensland event was not kind to us at all” said Rifat.  “We had a puncture on the third stage on Saturday, which cost us a lot of time, and put us right out of contention for the event.  On Sunday, we really doing well, going much faster and setting competitive times, when again on the third stage of the day, we had an engine management sensor fail – so the engine just shut down, and that was the end of the event for us.”  

“Clearly stage 3 is a bit of a jinx for us!” laughed Scott. "Both days in Queensland, and on top of our gearbox failure on stage 3 in Malaysia earlier this year!  But, we have the view that our three pieces of bad luck are done – so now we can focus on doing our best and getting a great result for the team, and for our sponsors, in New Caledonia”  

“Absolutely,” agreed Rifat.  “We know the car is strong, and the team has solved our problems from Queensland, and made sure the car is ready to rally – so nothing should stop us getting a top result – I just need to go out and drive the car now!  Seriously, on Sunday morning in Queensland, we really had a rhythm, and it gave us great confidence that we have the speed we need to do really well in new Caledonia.  If all goes our way, standing on top of the podium at the end of the weekend is a realistic aim – and that is what we will be there for!"

The event totals 230km of special stages, kicking off on Friday with a series of short special stages close to Noumea, the capital city of New Caledonia.  The event then moves to the forests Southeast of the city for the action on Saturday and Sunday.    

The team is very grateful for the ongoing commitment and support of Pertamina, Indonesia’s largest producer and retailer of quality fuels and lubricants, and for the support of Oakley, Tag Heuer, and Bullocks Tools.

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