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After two victories in two events, Team MRF are looking to build on their dominant start to the 2012 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship at this weekend’s International Rally of Queensland.

Team drivers, Chris Atkinson and Gaurav Gill, have one win apiece in their Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia S2000s, and will be looking to further extend their championship lead.

Atkinson, in particular, is determined to win his home event after electrical problems saw him finish second at the previous event in New Caledonia, with team-mate Gill taking victory.

“Rally Queensland is one of the events I’ve been looking forward to the most,” Atkinson said.

“It’s always great to compete on home soil – both for myself and the team – and after not finishing the event last year, I’m very excited about the rally.

“Together with the Race Torque team, I’m learning the car all the time, and every time we drive it we’re improving it a little bit.

“While there will be no major technical improvements for Rally Queensland, we’re continually fine tuning the car to make it faster.”

The former Subaru World Rally Team driver said that he expected the Australian round of the series to be a lot easier on cars than the New Caledonian rally.

“With narrow and tricky stages, Queensland is an event that you really need to be quite precise with your driving, but I’m confident we can push for victory.

“The road conditions on the first two events were like chalk and cheese, but the Skoda was the fastest car on both of them, so that bodes well for Queensland,” he added.

“I would have liked to have won in New Caledonia, but finishing second to my team-mate was great for the team and for my points tally, and hopefully I can reverse the finishing order this weekend.”

Gill’s victory in the last round was his fourth APRC win, but was his most special.

“It makes me proud as an Indian that I can match and beat guys like this,” he said.

“This win has helped prove the point that we guys can defeat the rest, with 25 per cent of their infrastructure and experience.

“That just shows how good a job our team has done,” he added. 

Team MRF’s major challengers will once again be the factory Proton team, with drivers PG Andersson and Alister McRae. Andersson has been fast on both events, while McRae has suffered his share of bad luck.

Atkinson and Gill will test the Super 2000 Skodas on Wednesday, before the event start on Saturday morning.

Leg one’s schedule involves nine stages with a total competitive distance of 118 kilometres, the longest of which is the 27.06km Derrier stage, which is run twice.

After a regroup in Caloundra on Saturday afternoon, Leg two commences with two runs around the Caloundra Airport spectator stage.

The leg continues on Sunday, with a further eight stages, the last of which, Big Derrier, is the longest of the event at 34.46km.

All up the Asia-Pacific Championship crews will contest 19 special stages for a total competitive distance of 235.86 kilometres.

Event data:
Round: 3/6, FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Caloundra, Australia
Stages: 19
Liaison distance: 518.68km
Competitive distance: 235.86km
Total distance: 832.03km
Shakedown: Nambour Showgrounds (Friday May 25, 0800-1200)
Pre-event press conference: Nambour Showgrounds (Friday May 25, 1200)
Time difference: Australia is GMT +10

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