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Finland’s Jussi Valimaki and Japan’s Katsu Taguchi will spearhead the MRF Rally Team’s assault on this year’s Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Valimaki will be partnered by co-driver, Jarkko Kalliolepo, while Australian Mark Stacey will call the pacenotes for Taguchi.

Valimaki and Kalliolepo won the APRC champions titles in 2005 for MRF Mitsubishi and make a welcome return after a year in the World Rally Championship. Taguchi has the most experience of any driver in the APRC - a drivers’ champion in 1999 and a regular competitor since 2003.

In a surprise move, MRF Tyres has entered a third car in the championship, to be driven by Gaurav Gill, a promising driver from New Delhi, India.

MRF expects Gill to spend 2007 learning and gaining experience of the diverse conditions in the Asia Pacific region and hope this opportunity will lead to a more competitive international drive in 2008. Gill is to have some training and testing sessions in the UK or Finland before the first APRC event in April on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

“We are going to try to finish each and every rally and collect the maximum points for the driver’s championship for Team MRF,“ Gill said.

A co-driver for Gill is yet to be finalised.

The MRF team will use the latest-spec Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 cars prepared by Australian company, Race Torque Engineering.

The MRF Mitsubishi team has won the championship twice before - with German driver Armin Kremer in 2003 and Jussi Valimaki in 2005.

2007 Asia Pacfic Rally Championship events

(1) New Caledonia-April 13/15,2007

(2) Rally of Canberra, Australia - June 1/3,2007

(3) Rally of Hokkaido, Japan - July 6/8,2007

(4) Malaysian Rally, August 10/12,2007

(5) Rally of Indonesia, Makassar, September 7/9,2007

(6) China Rally, November 12/13 November, 2007

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