The third round of the Chinese National Rally Championship took place in Kaiyang last weekend, in central western China. The event saw mixed results for Xu Lang and his Australian co-driver, Dale Moscatt, as they attempted to gain an early hold on the 2006 championship title.

For leg one, Xu Lang and Moscatt secured fourth outright and were first of the Chinese national teams. Leg two was looking equally as promising as the team entered the final stage still in fourth outright and closing in on the top three after a stage win on the penultimate stage. However the lure of a podium finish may have proved too strong. Five kilometres into the final stage a “slow 3 left” was attacked a little too aggressively and the result was an unfortunate and immediate ‘DNF’ result.

“’To finish first, first you must finish” is the old analogy, but Xu Lang was caught out by this corner, sending the Lancer off the road backwards. It then spun around, hitting a rock and causing extensive damage to the front and right hand side of the car.

“It demolished the intercooler, oil cooler, sump guard, some suspension components, as well as a few panels,” explained Dale.

Early in the day, Xu Lang had collected a tree with the co-driver’s doors, breaking the glass and stoving in the panel work on the car.

“After that incident the team had re-aligned the car and all was back to working order. I was thinking how lucky we were to get away with that, both physically and also time wise, with only a minimal loss,” Dale said.

“In that last stage there were quite a few rocks which had been dragged out onto the racing line for the repeat run. We actually ran wide not long before the accident trying to avoid one of these and maybe that put Xu Lang out of his good rhythm, because the second accident only happened a few corners later,” he added, obviously disappointed.

Xu Lang and Moscatt now hold onto a very slim chance of winning the championship. Of the remaining two rounds, one has been cancelled, leaving just the final Longyou Rally near Shanghai to run. This event is also a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and should make for a great event, as Xu Lang can assess his speed and skill against the best the APRC has to offer.

For Dale, the disappointment of last weekend will quickly fade as plans for the remainder of the season take shape. He will pack four rallies into just five weeks, including two WRC events and the Mt Buller Sprint, in the four weeks prior to the final Chinese round. While Rally Australia will be contested alongside Xu Lang as event ambassadors, Rally New Zealand will see Dale team up with UK driver, Natalie Barrett, in her Evolution Lancer.

In between these two WRC events, Dale is looking forward to competing with Grant Denyer in the Mount Buller Sprint as part of Team Mini. The team made great progress with pacenoting during the lead up to the recent Targa West event, but withdrew after just two stages, as did all three factory teams upon the news of Peter Brock’s accident.

Xu Lang and Dale Moscatt would like to thank their sponsors and supporters: Honghe Rally Team, Yokohama Advan Tyres, Telstra Rally Australia and Motul Oils.

Photo: Honghe Rally Team

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