Four-time FIA Asia Pacific Rally Champion (APRC) Cody Crocker will return to the International Rally of Queensland on 13-1 5 May as the star of a three-car team from Japan.

Crocker, with champion co-driver Ben Atkinson, will drive a Subaru Impreza WRX for Cusco Racing after spending the past year out of regular competition.

Also in the team will be Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia, in a Mitsubishi Lancer, and Japanese driver Akira Bamba, under the Cusco Proton Junior Team banner.

The news confirms the International Rally of Queensland will deliver a world-class field for round two of the six-nation APRC.

Although entries are yet to open, it has been confirmed the factory-backed Proton Motorsports team from Malaysia also will return to chase victory with two Proton Satria Neo S2000 cars driven by Australian Chris Atkinson and British Rally Champion Alister McRae of Scotland.

The contest between old rivals Crocker and Atkinson, brother of Crocker’s co-driver, is expected to be a highlight of the event.

Crocker is one of the most popular and successful Australian rally drivers of recent years, having also won the Australian Rally Championship in 2003-04-05.

Atkinson drove for the Subaru World Rally Team, achieving a best event result of second outright, before switching to the British-run, Malaysian-backed Proton team for the APRC and this year’s pan-European Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

“It will be great to get back to Queensland. I have obtained a Prodrive-built Subaru from Indonesia and it will be run by Cusco,” Crocker said.

“I didn’t do much in 2010 except some rally driver training in Indonesia – this is a big opportunity for me. My goal is to help Cusco win the new Teams Cup.

“It will also be good to team with Rifat. He’s not only a great driver but also the funniest guy in rallying.”

Sungkar, who ran his own car at the 2010 International Rally of Queensland, will drive one of Cusco’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Xs with Australian co-driver Scott Beckwith.

The rally will be one of Australia’s biggest international motorsport events in 2011. Other teams are expected to come from India, New Zealand and New Caledonia, as well as from around Australia.

The International Rally of Queensland is benefiting from Significant Regional Event Scheme (SRES) funding under the Events Queensland Regional Development Program (EQRDP).
 
The EQRDP is an investment program designed to extend the flow of economic and social benefits of events to regional Queensland. The SRES celebrates and supports those events that have a particularly strong track record of growth and economic success for their region.
 
A state-wide initiative, the program is committed to enhancing existing events in regional Queensland, as well as assisting in the establishment of new events.
 
Since the EQRDP began in 2001, more than $15.3 million has been invested in 705 regional events, an indicator of the important role these events play in their communities and wider Queensland.

IROQ also is supported by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

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