Vicky Chandrok, President of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship Working Group, has explained to Martin Holmes how the FIA seeks to inject new energy into this regional championship.
With the aim to attract more entries, the group are hopeful that the change this year will put the APRC heading in the right direction.
“The Asia Pacific has had a lot of logistic challenges as it is so widely spread," Chandrok said.
"What started happening was that people would do an event or two and then run out of steam due to the large costs of transporting their vehicles to events. We started discussions with the FIA about different kinds of format.
"Finally, we came upon the format of having the FIA APRC Pacific Cup and the Asia Cup independently, so that people can take part in an international event and win an international trophy, and if they take part in any two events they qualify for the APRC final, which becomes a Shoot-out.
"The winner of the final becomes the winner of the APRC championship.”
MH: On account of China possessing traditionally a late date in the season, presumably it was logical to go there for the Final?VC: “This year we are going with China, but hopefully every event will have a shot at hosting a round of the final, depending on their quality of event. I expect the event standards to go up,”
MH: Regarding entry levels, what is the position about admitting non homologated cars into the APRC?VC: “I expect national competitors to start taking part because we've also given the liberty now for the national classes to run in the international event, provided they've been approved by the national ASNs and conform to Article 253 in terms of safety.
"They don't need to go through the process of homologation with the FIA as long as they are satisfied. If they certify national classes within their country they are more than welcome to take part.”
Mike Young in his Cusco Racing Toyota Vitz during last year's Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
MH: How can you address the imbalance of performance between homologated and non homologated cars?VC: “With the FIA Technical Department we have come upon a weight formula for taking care of any disparity in terms of performance, for example between AP4 and R5 cars, R2 cars and so forth.
"The minimum weight for the AP4 cars with a 34mm restrictor is now 1380 kilos and so they've got a weight penalty of about 40-60 kilos depending on their engine size.”
MH: Some countries run 1600cc AP4 cars, others 1800cc.VC: “We tried the formula in China, the last round of the APRC last year (2018), where the national championship cars (for example the bigger engined Golf GTi cars) were given a weight penalty.
"We calculated that the variation in performance created by these weight penalties ended up within about 21 seconds at the end of the rally.”
MH: The formula will be monitored at Otago by the APRC and the FIA themselves through their regional rally manager, Jerome Roussel.VC: “We will encourage the national classes in each of the categories to be competitive and persuade them to ship the cars they use in those events to the final in China this year.”
MH: Do you expect that this will work?VC: “We expect that entries getting up to double digits would be a good start, for people registering for the championship. I expect as the year goes on not just competitors, but even organisers, will work towards this new format and personally I think we will be back to seeing the days of, say, a couple of dozen cars on the grid from next year for sure.
"I was pushing these changes quite hard myself because the old system wasn't working for whatever reason, and the survival of the APRC itself was at stake.”
MH: This year there are eight rallies within the framework of the APRC, two in New Zealand, Australia and Japan, one each in Indonesia and China.VC: “This year we lost Malaysia, they lost their sponsor and we are missing India. We have added Indonesia and we have Thailand as a contender event and should be on the calendar for next year.”
MH: And the crux of the matter, will there be more teams in the series?VC: “The entire focus is to get more teams involved rather than having one or two people dominating the championship.
"To that end this year I think we will have Proton, the Hyundai team with Hayden (Paddon), the Ralliart NZ team, we expect Cusco will enter one two-wheel drive car and a four-wheel drive car, and we are in contact with various privateers.”
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